In juli 2011 reisde ik met een InterRail-pas door Duitsland, Oostenrijk en Tsjechië. Van deze treintrip heb ik een (Engelstalig) reisverslag gemaakt.
After previous InterRail trips to Scandinavia and Italy, I now wanted to explore the cities of Central Europe. Munich, Vienna and Prague would be the main destinations. I used a 1st class InterRail Global Pass, valid for 22 days continuous train travel.
In advance I made 2 seat reservations at the train station in my hometown Utrecht, for the first and the last trip. We would start our journey by taking the ICE high-speed train to Munich. Reservation is not compulsory for this train, but I like to be sure of a seat on longer routes, especially with a lot of luggage. I also reserved the CityNightLine from Prague back to Utrecht, because these night trains tend to get fully booked quickly in summer.
Monday 11 July: Munich
Our trip began by taking a very early train to Frankfurt. Here we had to change for the train to Munich. Luckily we had enough time in Frankfurt for an (expensive) coffee. Around 3 pm we arrived in Munich, where we walked to the pleasant apartment that I had booked for 3 nights.
I really enjoyed the lively atmosphere in Munich. Even on a Monday evening all restaurants, bars and terraces were pretty full. In the city we admired the stylish buildings, the classy shopping streets, the nice parks, various interesting museums and good food & beer. Highlights were a trip to Schloss Nymphenburg (a baroque palace with lovely garden), a walk along the river Isar (many locals were sunbathing on the shores) and watching an outdoor movie on the monumental Königsplatz.
Thursday 14 July: Linz
The next destination: Linz in Austria. We took the comfortable Railjet train (approx. 2,5 hrs). The day before I had obtained seat reservations (recommended, not required) from the ticket machine at Munich station. An easy process which allows you to avoid the queues. In 1st class we received a complimentary chocolate bar, orange juice and (Austrian) newspapers.
In Linz we started to walk to our cheap hotel. After an hour we were still nowhere near the place, so we were happy when we saw a taxi. Later we found out that there was a tram stop right outside the hotel. Public transport was very well organized in Linz, overall a pleasant city, that was European Capital of Culture in 2009. We explored the old city centre, strolled along the river Donau, visited the great Lentos Kunstmuseum and took the old tram to the top of the Pöstlingberg.
Saturday 16 July: Salzburg
Today we planned a day trip to Salzburg, city of Mozart and The Sound of Music. We took a Railjet train (just over 1 hr), without reservation, but there was plenty of space. Of course we admired all the baroque beauty in the old city centre. The number of tourists was a bit overwhelming, so we skipped Hohenzollern Castle and climbed the Kapuzinerberg instead. At the terrace at the top, with great views of the Alp mountains, I had pancake with ice-cream, because it was my birthday.
Sunday 17 July: Vienna
We moved on to Austria’s capital Vienna. Again by Railjet train (approx. 1,5 hrs), which I reserved the day before at the station in Linz (3,5 euro per seat), though it was not very crowded in the train.
On our first day in Vienna it was extremely hot. We searched for shadow in the Praterpark and later made a walk on the almost deserted Donau Insel. In the next days we made long city walks, after which we treated ourselves to coffee & chocolate. When we were too tired, we took random trams (a Vienna public transport ticket for several days is good value for money).
I was really impressed by all the Art Nouveau buildings and we saw great exhibitions of Klimt and Schiele in various museums. Also impressive was the Belvedere palace. A nice surprise was that we managed to visit a concert by Morrissey in the stately Konzerthaus, with an after party in a nearby club.
Wednesday 20 July: Bratislava
Bratislava in Slovakia was our destination for a day trip. We travelled there by boat (‘Twin City Line’, departure from Schwedenplatz, approx. 30 euro). A nice alternation from train travel, though this part of the Donau river isn’t the most picturesque.
This was the most rainy day of our trip, so we did some shopping, visited a photo exhibition and checked our social media in coffee bars with Wi-Fi. When the weather got better, we walked to the (not too interesting) castle overlooking the city. We returned to Vienna with a regional train (only 1 hour, no reservation needed).
Friday 22 July: Brno
From Vienna we travelled to Brno, the 2nd biggest city in the Czech Republic, but much smaller than Vienna or Prague. We used regional trains (travel time approx. 2,5 hrs, reservation not required), with a transfer in Breclav.
The rest of the day we explored the centre of Brno, which is not very touristy but quite lively with many bars and terraces and even a small beach on the main square. By chance we came across an exhibition about The Beatles in the city museum. Though we were the only visitors and didn’t understand a word of what the attendants were explaining to us, it was very entertaining.
Saturday 23 July: Olomouc
We made a day trip to Olomouc (regional train, approx. 1,5 hours, reservation not required). This is a charming town with a historical centre. On Saturday afternoon it appeared to be deserted though: all shops were closed after 1 pm, there were hardly any people or traffic in the streets. We could explore the town in all peace and quiet.
Sunday 24 July: Prague
From Brno we took a regional train (R) to Prague, our final destination. Travel time was about 3,5 hours. The EuroCity train (EC) is 1 hour faster, but that would require advance reservation. By the way, the conductor of the regional train was the first to ask for our passports.
In Prague we stayed for 4 days. It wasn’t difficult to fill them in this vibrant metropole. I enjoyed the Jugendstil architecture and the numerous sights. We visited the Mucha Museum, admired the views from the Vysehrad hill, were impressed by the Jewish cemetery and explored the Mala Strana area with the John Lennon Wall. The enormous amount of tourists was sometimes a bit tiring, but you could avoid them by going a bit beyond the main tourist traps.
Wednesday 27 July: Going home
Our final day was coming to an end and we spent our last Czech crowns (the Czech Republic was our only destination that doesn’t have the Euro as currency). At the end of the afternoon we boarded the CityNightLine that was going to take us straight back to Utrecht.
We ended our Interrail trip in style: in a deluxe double cabin with our own toilet and shower. Despite the comfort I still had a hard time falling asleep, like I always have in moving vehicles. Nevertheless I was feeling quite fresh the following morning, when the train conductor knocked on our door to bring us the breakfast. Then I realized that our lovely InterRail trip was nearly over…