The lazy days

Vienna Travel Blog

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Railway preparation HQ
Well, to start with, I'm alone now in Vienna, after my Sweet Bunny left for Romania. So what do I do? Well, I prepare to visit Austria. Now, it's not the first time I'm here, and I know this country pretty well. One of my objectives, for almost three years now, has been to visit every Land capital in Austria (there's nine of them, including Vienna). Up to now, I got 7, which means Klagenfurt and Bregenz have been left out. So this year I'm planning to remedy that.

How do I travel in Austria? Well, I'm using a very good offer of the Austrian Railways, called "OEBB Sommer Ticket" (which of course means Summer Ticket. For 49,90 EUR it gives you full access between July and September to all the trains in Austria (barr some narrow-gauge and mountain railways), from 8:00 to midnight on weekdays and the whole day on Sat and Sun. And I mean all the trains, as in Austria there are no surcharges, even for the one I love most, the ICE (which is a German creation, but more about it later).

The other thing about Austrian trains is that you don't need a seat reservation, you just hop on. Which has the great advantage of not keeping you at the station, in case you're running late, but the disadvantage that nobody knows their place, which I find rather sad. So, at intermediary stops, you get these lo(ooo)ng lines of people just moving around the train looking for a place. Now, there are places even in the more crowded trains, but human psychology comes into play - so people are very shy to ask for that free one next to somebody else.

The result - only the unscrupulous get the best places, while shyer people are left to walk the whole length of the train in search for an unoccupied pair of seats.

My bet: always better to have a reserved seat! It costs only 3,- EUR, and it guarantees you a good position, and, if you ask for it, a seat and a window place. Only drawback - for some silly (and here I'd use stronger language) reason, you can only make them at staffed offices, which means long lines.... Why?!?

Back to that wonderful ticket, there's one caveat: you have to have a VorteilsCard to get it. That's a discount card, which entitles you also to around 50% discount on any Austrian normal ticket (1st class included), and other benefits. And no, you don't need a credit card or an Austrian address to get it. So there,. now you all know the cheapest way to travel in Austria.

Back to myself, I'm organising my little travel kit, which consists of (remember it's for daytrips, so no pjs :p):
- newspaper (The Economist)
- MP3 player (with Carla Bruni, Katie Melua and some jazz on)
- mobile phone (no, can't go without it...)
- agenda
- photo camera (this is a new addition; my Sweet Bunny made me think hard about it so I decided I should start taking photos of my trips)
- railway timetable

The last item is the interesting one. You can get it for about 8,- EUR at any ticket office. It also has a supplement which is far thinner and that's what I'm taking with me, along my travel itinerary excerpt.

Why would you buy that when you have internet timetables you ask? Well, first because you don't have to be glued to the net at all times. But mostly, because it can give you travel ideas, or at least different ways of getting to your destination. Say, for example, you'd like to get to Salzburg. Well, the normal trip is ok, rather linear affair. However, if you look over the front-page map, you can find a better way to do it, which is through the mountains. And that's a great scenery!
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Railway preparation HQ
Railway preparation HQ
photo by: EmyG