A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Hooptedoodle #59 - A Martyr to International Co-operation

St Anton Bahnhof, with a few Japanese (not mine) in evidence

Today was the day of the holiday when I skulked off on my own to Innsbruck, which involved a fairly early train journey. Being of a naturally nervous disposition, I arrived at the station about 30 minutes before my train was due, and - yet again, I regret to say - it was just as well.

St Anton is an unmanned station, which has one - that's ONE - automatic, touch-screen ticket machine which (as I have found on previous occasions) requires post-graduate degrees in logic and European geography to operate successfully. When I arrived, there was a party of approximately 12 Japanese tourists failing to come to terms with the technology - understandably - and becoming very agitated since their train to Bregenz was due in about 10 minutes. When I arrived they were shouting in various languages at poor Hansi and Georgl, who were busy polishing the floor with a sit-on machine, and had no interest in tickets or tourists.

I normally try to hide somewhere in these situations, but my own train was certain to be bang on time, and there was no way anyone was going anywhere until these Japanese visitors were attended to. So - to my astonishment - I found that I had been recruited to get some tickets out of the machine for them. One of their number had a few words of German and a very few words of English, and he had the battered look of someone who had been sadly exploited over recent days - obtaining food, information and other of life's necessities for his very animated friends. Amazingly, considering my ineptitude with machines and the difficulty of assembling coherent thought when a dozen desperate people are all shouting at once in Japanese, I got the ticket info into the machine. Good so far, and now we had to pay for the tickets.

The machine dismissed their credit cards without comment, and - more alarmingly - also ejected their Austrian banknotes. I had panic-stricken visions of having to pay for their tickets until I spotted the bit on the screen that indicated that 50-euro notes were not accepted. We also found out that any smaller notes which were other than fresh from the mint were rejected too, but eventually the spokesman, bless him, organised a pooled supply of 10s and 20s, and also organised for two of the party to flatten them out into acceptable condition, and we made it. All that was needed then was to make sure they all got their bags up the stairs to the platform and they were off. Rather foolishly, I found myself waving them off, and then tried to get my heart-rate back to normal before purchasing my own ticket. In passing, I must say that Japanese tourists always seem to have very big bags - Japanese airline rules about maximum baggage weights must be a lot more liberal than FlyBe's.

My day trip to Innsbruck was good, if a bit hot. As I sat on the wonderful, cool, silent train (Zurich-Vienna express), I promised myself - yet again - that in future I will hide behind the trolleys, or pretend to be dead until the danger has passed.

Innsbruck, today


  1. Your trip sounds delightful. And, I must admit, your experience with the put-upon Japanese brought forth a few chuckles on my part. Sad though that ticketing in so many rail stations on the Continent has been reduced to this kind of maddening automated experience. It was more fun years ago when there were actual people on the other side of counter.

    Best Regards,


  2. What is the betting the ticket machine was originally designed in Japan?

  3. What a funny experience, so well described it had me genuinely laughing out loud! I can just picture the gaggle of frustrated Japanese tourists surrounding you :-)

    Lovely pics.


  4. Gentlemen - thank you for your kind comments - I am now back in the UK.

    Unbelievably, this post attracted a spam response from (allegedly) the ElitePalm people, promoting their bus-ticketing equipment.

    I guess the 'comment' was from a robot, but - if you are still out there, my new chums at ElitePalm - I hope your bottoms fester.