Tag Archives: train

Nach Österreich, Nach Wien!

I boarded the train at Budapest Keleti station at 15:10 bound for Vienna (Wien) WestBahnoff in Austria. I arrived at 18:00 after falling in and out of sleep along the way. I was able to see that the Austrians were greatly invested in renewable energies such as wind and solar. I wasn’t able to get too many clear shots because the train was traveling too fast, but I’ve included a shot of only of the many wind farms I saw along the Austrian countryside. I don’t remember if I was still stuck in sleep mode, but the subway station confused me. Perhaps I was to accustomed to the London model, where subway lines rarely, if at all, share the same track. But there was the green line and the brown line, both on the same track, in German.

Possibly helpful tip: Make sure you’re really awake before leaving a station :-)!
I stayed at the Wombat’s City Hostels Vienna At The Naschmarkt. It was a one of the nicest hostels on my entire trip, comparable to the MEININGER Hotel at Berlin Hauptbahnhof. It was set out more like a hotel than most of the other hostels I’d stayed at during my travels. With many floors, roomy elevators and large security doors dotted along the wide hallways, everything just seemed so much cleaner and happier (although I’m not quite sure how buildings can be happy, you’ll know what I mean when you’ve experienced it). Any additional cost in comparison to the other hostels in the area would’ve been completely justified, but the hostel was reasonably priced below most of any nearby competitor, outshining others in value and ratings. It’s really close to the Kettenbrückengasse rail station. Needless to say, that night I took advantage of the proximity and headed off to a nice shopping district nearby.

I also probably shouldn’t say, but this was another stop at which I committed the travel sin of eating at an American fast-food chain. This time it was McDonald’s and ordering my trusty Big Mac, I didn’t even bother looking for Austrian menu inclusions!

Video Post: My First Night Train (Prague to Budapest)

Although it would be my last time traveling through the Prague subway, I was so excited that I would be traveling on my first night train! My next stop was Budapest, Hungary, and although there were many earlier trips I could have chosen, I decided to pay the 14 euro reservation fee for a bed in a couchette on the overnight train. I don’t know what the full fare would have been, but I’m happy I had a Eurail pass and didn’t have to worry about that :-). My main reason was to cut lodging costs. I needed to get to Hungary and I needed to sleep: night train solves all. Cheaper than the cost of a hostel stay, I was able to save all around on money and time and I recommend it to anyone who’s interested in backpacking.

The only negative in my plan was the long wait I had in the train station between my last scheduled daylight activity and the train that left almost at midnight. Being closer to the North pole in the summer meant that the “day” was much longer throughout all my European adventure than it would have been in Florida at the time. At least, that sounds like something I remember from high school geography that sounds like it’s right!

Well, after paying to use the restroom and finding that one of them had been closed for the night (I have no idea why, if you have to pay to enter any way), and being offered narcotics while thinking that I had lost my luggage to a closed storage facility, I finally saw my train on the arrivals board!

Given permission to board the train, I searched the door tags for my room and found to my surprise that the other bed would be left unoccupied that night. I made a video of my exploring the amenities offered in the sleeping cabin that I hope will convey the comfort and utter awesomeness I felt that night!

VideoPost: Leaving London

About Tickets

One of the things that I hadn’t thought much about was trains/train companies and the way they decided who used which set of tracks. I’m still really not all to sure, so if you understand it all, I would be happy to hear from you. I have noticed, however, that many of the lines in England have a single service provider. I am to sure if that is a result of certain rights peculiar to certain companies (government contracts for example) or if those companies have delegated those right via group bargaining process between all parties involved. Or perhaps, it is simply a factor of demand and the amount of supply the companies can provide while maintaining efficiency. What if I wanted to start a rail company what would be the process and how would I receive access to the lines, would I pay a private entity or would I be responsible only to the government? I like asking questions like these (sometimes much to the exasperation of those around me at the time). And sometimes the answers to what some of my closest friend would deem as “non-important questions” become all too important for people like me in deciding whether to continue with your travel plans as (half-)planned.

You see, I was made aware that there were only a few options available for me to get from London to Brussels, Belgium that didn’t involve feathers and Icarus-like aspirations or scuba gear and waterproof luggage. Planes involve too much hassle and the prices weren’t looking to good either. However, the epoch of the BritRail pass and British trains had ended for me. No, not because a giant body of water separates the British Isles from the Continent, but because that modern marvel of human engineering, the Chunnel, was serviced by Eurostar and not the British national rail. This meant that that journey would require another train purchase beyond the amounts paid for the BritRail and Eurail passes. Luckily, I had some knowledge of this beforehand and had made provisions in my budget. What may please you as much as it did me was the large discount I got simply from having a Eurail pass when purchasing my Eurostar ticket.

The Justification

As you will learn, I need to justify expenditure to myself through careful examination of alternatives and sufficient understanding of the prices offered for products or services. Going back to musings at the beginning of this post, I researched and saw that the Chunnel had resulted in quite a large cost to the company that had headed its construction and maintenance. The ‘separate jurisdiction’ accorded the Chunnel (i.e., not accepting passes from either of the national territories it operated through) seemed only fair in light of this information and subsequently, I had no regrets in buying the ticket.

The Absentmindedness

I had purchased my ticket about a week before my travel date and had, for the most part, forgotten about my departure. Not smart! The night before I left, I was feverishly packing and searching the internet for tips related to my journey seeing as I wasn’t sure when I would have internet access again. This led to my two-hour bit of shut-eye commencing at 2AM and ending at 4AM. It’s not a good feeling having two hours of sleep for an early morning in which you have to check out of your hostel, walk to a bus top you have never seen, to get to a train station (London Bridge) that did not open until 5:30 (fund this out after I rushed there for 5AM). Through all these worrisome incidents, however, I remained calm and arrived at King’s Cross station just in time to walk across to St. Pancras International Station, which both share practically the same address. Its beautifully ornate red-brick facade was a welcoming sight in the dim dawn light. I was able to quickly find the Eurostar ticket-printing machine and head to the international boarding area. Customs wasn’t too much of a hassle, and I was able to find WiFi a nice seat in the packed waiting lounge…

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