There’s nothing much better (apart from being upgraded on a plane flight) than travelling across Europe by train. These guys really know how to do it properly. What a way to travel!
We caught an Austrian Railways train from Vienna yesterday. It had originated in Budapest and we reached its termination point in Munich 4 1/2 hours later. This trip took us virtually right across southern Austria and across the border into Bavaria, in southern Germany. The train departed exactly on time at 10:14 and we arrived exactly on time and according to the timetable.
It is extremely comfortable to ride on a spotlessly clean train, seated in leather seats and watch the countryside slide past. The train was so quiet that as we left each of our stops, it was difficult to discern that it was actually moving. We travelled at around 160 kms / hour and at one stage reached 200 kms. It didn’t feel as if we were travelling at anywhere near these speeds. How did we know we were going that fast? Because, along the carriage were a series of TV screens that continuously displayed timetable information, moving maps of our route and current speed. These also provided safety information and updates on connecting trains at each of the four cities at which we stopped. Each seat had its own power supply so most people were watching movies, or working on their computers or iPads. I took advantage of the power supply to edit many of the photos that I have taken so far.
The staff on the train all spoke excellent English and even provided a service to our seat of food and drink items from the restaurant car just a little further along the train. What a nice way to travel – not even having to walk along the train to order a coffee or a glass of wine.
It is clearly winter in this part of the world. Although it has been unseasonably warm with temperatures of around 8 – 10 degrees, it is now getting cooler each day and it will probably begin to snow later in the week. Outside the window, we could see the undulating farmland of this region and in many parts, the fog created a rather erie atmosphere and definitely told us that it was much more comfortable inside, rather than outside. All of the farms had great big barns in which to keep the cattle over winter and some had very large unfenced paddocks which were lying fallow before they would be planted with crops after the winter snow has melted.
Our hotel (Sofitel) in Munich is right next to the central station, so it was only a walk of 100 metres or so from the train to the warmth of the hotel lobby. It is actually in a renovated postal building – very modern and stylish but with some architectural features such as bright coloured walls and dimly lit lift lobbies, that I don’t fancy very much. It does have a great breakfast, however!