Today has been the first day of my Alpbach adventure. Getting up at 5am was quite a shock to the system, but I was really excited to know that by the end of the day I’d be in a beautiful country that I’d never been to before.
What I wasn’t to know though was quite how long it would end up taking me to get here. With hindsight, the first sign of trouble was not being able to check in to my flights online and instead having to do it at London City Airport. When I got to the airport at 7:45, I was also surprised quite how busy it was, suggesting that there were delays across many flights (this did indeed prove to be the case). My first problem though was that due to the airline overbooking the flight, I was on standby, so wasn’t guaranteed a seat.
Once I was checked in I headed to my gate and all seemed to be going relatively smoothly. I managed to get on the plane, but we boarded the Embraer E190 aircraft around 10 minutes late (nothing too extraordinary there). We were then rather disappointed though when we sat at the gate for about an hour before starting our taxi. Ultimately, I knew before I’d even left London City that I’d missed my connection from Frankfurt to Innsbruck, so I tried to settle into the 70 minute flight so I had enough energy for what was to come.
Upon arrival at Frankfurt I made my way through security and passport control to get back into normal airside so I could go to the Lufthansa Service Center to work out how I was going to get to Innsbruck. Getting to the Service Center took about half an hour and when I got there I realised I was in for a long wait, as it was using a ticketing system to address the problems of the large group of people there. Something like an hour later, I had myself a boarding pass for a 16:20 flight and had about two hours to kill until it took off.
The time dragged by, but eventually I made it onto the little Dash 8 and off we took for Innsbruck. The flight was very smooth and the Austrian Airlines staff very friendly. I managed a quick nap before we landed, when I met up with a French Alpbach student who’d introduced herself at the Frankfurt gate after spotting my rocket T shirt. Finally, I felt well underway to Alpbach. A quick shuttle bus took us to the station and then a nice S-Bahn to Brixlegg, where we bumped into one of the Summer School lecturers and shared a taxi to Alpbach.
After a bit of walking around the village and with help from a couple of locals, I managed to find my Guest House at about 20:00, so could finally relax after a very long day of travelling. Dinner was a pizza made from scratch at the pizzeria adjacent to the guest house, then it was time for some more relaxation before what is bound to be a long first day tomorrow, including an evening lecturer from former ESA Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain.