I did feel sorry for the retired couple, as they had to leave the train in St Polten they weren’t exactly thrown off the train but were rather shattered to find that the special offer tickets they had heard about were not available on the train but had to be purchased in advance from a special outlet so they missed the Salzburg train.
This sort of local knowledge I was able to tap into thanks to my Viennese friends who had heard about the chance to take a 200 kilometre trip to Austria’s second best know city Salzburg for just €9.99 each way!
As he said “The petrol would cost more than that and that it is a very restful journey and in some style too!”
Some offers are too good and it is often said if it is such a good offer there must be some catch… I have to say I did not find any. What I would change was my departure and return time to make more time in the city. People aged 60 or above can travel from Monday to Thursday fort the special price depending on your desired route. The ticket is available from one of 3,000 tobacco stores throughout Austria.
The local knowledge I had gained was that the special offer did require you to buy the tickets in advance from one of the many Tabak booths around Vienna and this was something that the couple who boarded the train in Huttledorf, a suburb of Vienna failed to do so they decided to leave the train in St Polten to buy the special tickets there and catch the next train. People aged 60 or above can travel from Monday to Thursday for the special price depending on the desired route. The ticket is available from one of 3,000 tobacco stores throughout Austria.
This service to Salzburg is run from Vienna’s west station or Westbahnhof, the trains whisk you west at speeds up to 200kph stopping at around 8 stations.
GET ON THE SALZBURG TRAIN
The view from the train of the farming areas along to route are broken by a brief stop in the industrial city of Linz and then glimpses of lakes and mountains come into view as you near Mozart’s home city.
The train itself a double decker and with limited but adequate catering of beers, wines, coffee, tea and a small selection of sandwiches and snacks served in your seat by the attendants that double up too, as they do check or sell tickets as well! The normal advance fare is over €20 and certainly the reduced special €9.99 offer is pretty amazing Having to prove my age too did give me a very pleasant surprise, as the young female attendant insisted on seeing my passport to in fact make sure I was indeed 60!
The modern and very well fitted out train does help to make the 2 hour 40 minute trip a pleasing experience. You can even keep check of the time progress on the route although my experience of German and Austrian trains are that they do tend to run pretty very well to time, as each carriage has a video display screen to keep you informed of it’s progress so it is somewhat redundant, but never the less useful to some.
GET GREAT VALUE ON THE SALZBURG TRAIN
The investment in railway infrastructure and their upgrading work is very visible over the whole route something that the UK should take a look at! The company that operates this private service is called Westbahnhof introduced this service and it seems to be proving to be very popular, I had the impression it’s a little Richard Branson like, the idea that is, not that the train has a goatie beard!
Arrival in Salzburg at the modernized station and you are a short bus ride or if you prefer walk to the nearby shopping and tourist centre. With the whole area dominated by the castle and the river Salz cutting through the valley it’s a delightful and fairly compact city to look around. The narrow shopping street of Getreidegasse with its up-market shops and some very famous restaurants is a busy, eye catching and popular area.
The castle which has such excellent view points over the city can be reached by walking, but many prefer the cable car costing €11. Something that after traveling 200 kilometer’s for €9.99 a 2 minute cable car ride did not seem to be such a fantastic deal. I walked!
Stopping for a lunch at the Steigl brewery located part way up the hill, the garden view is pretty good, but from the castle is stunning. As the German border is close by some of the mountains surrounding the city are in fact in Germany just a few kilometer’s away.
With annual arts and music festival Salzburg draws visitors from all over the world so do pick your time carefully. If you plan to stay for a few days the hotels can get very full during the key event periods.
One of Salzburg’s must do’s is a visit to the coffee house in one of the main squares, Alter Market and Cafe Tomaselli, a place where local knowledge helped and a pleasant afternoon tea or rather coffee break was had. Whilst the busy visitors marched to and fro stopping to look at the street entertainers, one with his apparent if unique gravity defying flying Mozart impression, that seemed to fool quite a number, but by applying a little logic the puzzle was soon solved from the floral covered balcony view point.
The return to Vienna was right on time, journeying to the refurbished Westbahnhof station, part modern shopping mall, part station, well worth a short visit in its own right.
Getting back to the city I did wonder how that retired couple got on?
Was their day as enjoyable as mine?
I hope they got their excellent value for money trip for €9.99 in the end, I know I did!