Autumn 2021. In theory we could travel to other continents, but destinations we had in mind such as Japan or the United Kingdom were impossible to plan ahead. Instead we organised a rail trip to Eastern Europe, travelling to Berlin, Gdańsk, Wrocław, Karlovy Vary, Pilsen, Bratislava, Poprad, Vienna, Linz and Salzburg. By travelling to Germany, Poland, Czechia, Slovakia and Austria, we explore an area which was in the (not too distant) past bonded together by the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation and by Austria-Hungary.
If Berlin was leg 1 of our 2021 Rail Tour of Imperial Europe, Poland leg 2, Czechia leg 3 and Slovakia leg 4, then Austria – including Freilassing just over the border in the German Free State of Bavaria – was leg 5.
As we did with other leg wrap-ups, time for some impressions.
Change of pace
2021 is some thirty years after the formal end of the East-West divide in Europe, yet you still sense differences. After some two weeks in the ‘East’, with Gdańsk, Wrocław, Karlovy Vary, Pilsen, Bratislava and Poprad, Vienna offered a totally different vibe. More impulses. And yes, Vienna wás calm.
But how people behave, react. What they wear. How teens and students behave. We can’t put our finger on it scientifically, but it feels different. Heritage is just different.
Now. Well. Austria was very different on matters of coronavirus countermeasures. In October 2021, you only needed to wear a face and nose covering mask on public transport and in shops in Austria. That included museums. But not just any mask: an FFP2 mask. Timothy got sent away at Schönbrunn. Luckily the gift shop sold FFP2 masks for the fair price of 1.20 euros. But otherwise Austria was very open. We did need to show proof of vaccination, recent testing or recent recovery. We were both fully vaccinated so that was no issue.
At the same time, in 2021, in Belgium there was a lot whining about the ‘pasjesmaatschappij‘, ‘pass society’. What time wasting argument. It worked and works.
We saw more crowds. People went out later in Austria than in Poland, Czechia and Slovakia. We saw more partying. In Linz university students were enjoying Feierabend – free night before a day off. Beinig drunk and some on the brink of fighting.
In Salzburg we saw many (other) tourists. We hadn’t seen such crowds since shopping days in Melbourne and Sydney 2020.
We were lucky to have really nice weather to end our tour, which obviously helps the experience. So yes, Austria was a nice and sweet dessert to our trip in ‘imperial Europe’.
Previous adventures in Austria
- Nightjet Vienna/Innsbruck to Brussels, or how we got thrown off the train in Aachen.
- Ferdinandeum Tyrol State Museum in Innsbruck.
- Imperial Palace Hofburg Innsbruck.
- Ibis Innsbruck.
- Habsburg Schloss Ambras Castle in Innsbruck.
- REVIEW | Austrian Airlines economy class Vienna to Brussels.
- REVIEW | Austrian Airlines Business Lounge Vienna Airport.
- Reliving the era of the great railway journeys, travelling overnight on Nightjet.
- From the Stelvio to Stavanger: a farewell to my Honda.
2021 Rail Tour of Imperial Europe
- POTSDAM 2021 | Schloss Sanssouci.
- 1945 Potsdam Conference’s Cecilienhof Palace.
- Potsdam 2021.
- REVIEW | InterContinental Berlin.
- BERLIN 2021 | Pergamon, ‘Das Panorama’.
- BERLIN 2021 | Humboldt Forum in the Berlin Palace.
- BERLIN 2021 | The Bundestag in the Reichstag.
- Berlin 2021.
- By train from Berlin to Gdansk via Szczecin.
- Stopover in Szczecin.
- REVIEW | Restauracja Ritz in Gdańsk.
- REVIEW | Holiday Inn Gdansk.
- GDAŃSK | Museum of the Second World War.
- GDAŃSK | European Solidarity Centre or Europejskie Centrum Solidarności.
- A walk through Gdańsk.
- Gdańsk 2021.
- POLAND | PKP Intercity Gdansk to Wroclaw via Warsaw.
- Wrocław Museum of Architecture.
- The Dwarfs of Wrocław.
- Poland 2021.
- By train from Wroclaw to Karlovy Vary.
- Karlovy Vary.
- REVIEW | Hotel Imperial Karlovy Vary.
- Czechia’s Great Spa Town of Europe Františkovy Lázně.
- CZECHIA | Pilsen Historical Underground Tunnels.
- CZECHIA | Pilsner Urquell Brewery Tour.
- CZECHIA | Pilsen.
- CZECHIA 2021 | Cheb and its castle.
- Hotel room for one.
- By train from Karlovy Vary to Prague via Pilsen.
- Czechia 2021.
- RegioJet from Prague to Bratislava.
- Bratislava Castle.
- REVIEW | Crowne Plaza Bratislava.
- Bratislava on a rainy Monday.
- ZSSK Fast Train Tatran from Bratislava to Strba.
- The Tatra rack and electric Railway from Strba via Strbske Pleso to Poprad tatry.
- SLOVAKIA | AquaCity Poprad.
- REVIEW | Hotel Seasons AquaCity Poprad.
- Slovakia 2021.
- Poprad – Bratislava – Vienna with ZSSK’s intercity train.
- VIENNA | Restaurant Steirereck.
- REVIEW | InterContinental Wien.
- VIENNA | Luxury Sisi’s in Schönbrunn Palace.
- The Hofburg in Vienna.
- Vienna’s Furniture Museum.
- Vienna 2021.
- Pöstlingberg & Grottenbahn in Linz.
- REVIEW | Motel One Linz.
- AUSTRIA | ÖBB RailJet from Linz to Salzburg.
- BAVARIA | Lokwelt – Locomotive World in Freilassing.
- REVIEW | Hotel Sacher Salzburg.
- SALZBURG | Mirabell Palace and the Mozart Residence.
- SALZBURG | Hohensalzburg Fortress.
- Salzburg Cathedral + Salzburg Residenz = DomQuartier museums.
- SALZBURG | Formula 1 cars and the Flying Bulls at Red Bull’s Hangar-7.
- AUSTRIA | Salzburg 2021.
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