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.
Three weeks, some twenty-six trains, nine train operators, nine hotels and host cities. Many, many rail kilometers, countless meals and way too many desserts. This sums up our 2021 Rail Tour of Imperial Europe. In a transition year from COVID-19 lockdowns to more pragmatic coronavirus countermeasures.
We’ve seen and experienced very different takes on tackling the pandemic. And as in Belgium and perhaps everywhere, there we sometimes big discrepancies between theory (the law) and practice by the public.
Other than coronavirus countermeasures we did found common traits in the countries we visited.
Being early. Getting up early, starting the day early and having supper early. It caught us out in Wrocław a bit, when wanting to have dinner at Grape Restaurant. We booked online, got confirmation, but missed a mail saying it was full. Then adapt your online booking system, only allowing same-day bookings by phone. Anyway we could have a table, but not the full multicourse dinner.
It was 7.30 PM. Not 9, not 8.30, not 8. 7.30 PM. Hardly “late”, you’d think.
Another common practice was the ‘German style’ duvet on the bed. Folded, not long enough to go over your mattress and not very wide either. At Hotel Imperial in Karlovy Vary, for instance, that was really annoying.
Speaking of Hotel Imperial. That hotel was ‘late’. Gym opened only at 8AM during the week and 10AM on Saturday and Sunday. The pool had also restrictive opening hours. As did the funicular. Hotel Imperial felt like boarding school.
Off the beaten track
Okay, stating our choice of cities is traveling ‘off the beaten track’, is exaggerated. It’s not that Berlin, Gdańsk, Wrocław, Karlovy Vary, Pilsen, Bratislava, Poprad, Vienna, Linz and Salzburg are unknown, or ‘hidden gems’. But some of them are not top of mind when people travel to Poland, Czechia, Slovakia and Austria. Slovakia as a whole is not an A-list destination.
We willingly looked for destinations we hadn’t done or were more or less original. These were all pleasant surprises.
So, after 60+ posts, it’s time t wrap up. We thoroughly enjoyed this trip. The first long railway adventure since the pandemic. We were lucky with the weather too. It was just so nice to be away.
On to the next adventures!
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.
- Austria 2021.
- Salzburg – Frankfurt by DB Intercity.
- RAIL TOUR OF EUROPE | How easy is touring Europe by train? .
8 Comments Add yours
Beautiful photos! Thank’s for share Timothy.
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Thank you Elvira. Have a great day.
A pleasure Timothy
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