Sven and Andreas' vacations – Published for friends at Wordpress :)

Month: August, 2020

Interrail 2020 summary

Again… what a trip!

The 15 days of travelling through Europe went by quicker than we were able to recognize. And this time, with a bit less ambitious schedule and more time to see all these visited cities, it was much more quiet and less hectic than in 2018.

We have really seen a lot and learnt about places, persons and surroundings. Pieces of information that we did not have in our mind before – and impressions that we will never forget.

The trains were absolutely perfect this time. None of them left our planned start train station with a single minute of delay. And only once, we had a 35 minutes arrival delay. However, it needs to be noted: The trains were fairly empty, sometimes we were the only people in our coach or booking class. We need to underline that the amount of tourists we have seen during the trip in the trains was fairly low as well. I guess mainly due to the complete absence of citizens from outside of Europe.

Now to the questions and two answers each:

  • What was the best hotel room?
    • Maritim Hotel in Dresden – what a room!
    • aDLERS Hotel in Innsbruck – what a view!
  • Where was the best hotel breakfast?
    • Hilton in Vienna – mentioned twice!
  • Where was the best evening restaurant?
    • Sophienkeller in Dresden
    • Weitblick Restaurant in Innsbruck
  • What was the best train food?
    • DoN in ÖBB Railjet
    • Leberkäse with Austrian wine
  • What was the best bar?
    • Irish Pub in Berlin
    • Avalon Project in Vienna
  • What was the best train product?
    • Railjet ÖBB Business Class – mentioned twice!
  • What was the best tourist option in the train?
    • Panorama Coach SBB in the Eurocity Transalpin – mentioned twice!
  • Where was the best tourist option we took unplanned?
    • Horse carriage ride with Viakerei Süss in Salzburg
    • Alpha Romeo Spider tour through Prague
  • What was the most remarkable discovery?
    • The astronomic tower in Prague
    • Salzburg as city
  • What were the most interesting places seen during the trip (multiple answers possible)?
    • Hamburg Harbour
    • International Maritime Museum in Hamburg
    • Sanssouci Park in Potsdam
    • Monument for Sinti and Roma in Berlin
    • Semper Opera in Dresden
    • Clementinum in Prague
    • Beer garden U Fleku in Prague
    • Hofbräuhaus in München
    • Burg Hohensalzburg in Salzburg
    • Museum Albertina in Vienna
    • Crossing the Alps in a Panorama Coach
    • The Alpine lakes
    • Swimming in Lake Zurich
    • Gay bar in Zurich opposite of our hotel
  • Where did we get the best local transport options?
    • Hamburg – a full public transport network card included in the hotel room price!
    • Berlin – a full public transport network card included in the hotel room price!
  • Where did we get the best price/value option in a hotel?
    • Maritim Hotel in Dresden – mentioned twice!
  • Fastest velocity during the trip:
    • Paris – Forbach by TGV doing 320 kmh or 200mph

As last point I would like to give some advice out of our experience to our fellow INTERRAILers, no matter of which age and which origin:

  • Travelling alone and travelling with two or more people by INTERRAIL is a complete different experience
  • It is good to have a planned schedule ahead. Train and hotel reservations are a great help. Thank you,, for being a marvellous, easy and trustworthy travel companion with fair hotel prices with 1-day-in-advance cancellation policies during these difficult travel times
  • Have your different travel apps on your mobile devices up-to-date. Advisable to have in our trip were
    • INTERRAIL Rail Planner
    • Deutsche Bahn
    • Ceske Drahy
    • ÖBB
    • Several different national and international news portals to check upon the latest CoVid-19 travel restrictions information
  • Some trains require additional reservations for quite a substantial fee. These reservations need to be printed and carried along. Attention: they are only valid for that mentioned train and cannot be easily transferred to another one. Better be on-time when using such a train, otherwise it might be quite a hassle
  • Have redundancy for face masks and desinfection alcoholic gels while travelling
  • Keep your travel documents with you and safe at all times

I would like to thank all of you following or commenting about our travel blog over the last 20 days. It has been an experience that needs to be done again, that is absolutely for sure.

KEEP SAFE AND HEALTHY at all times! See you next time!

Day 15: Zurich – Paris – Rambouillet

The last day of our European INTERRAIL discovery trip has come – and we have to say: It was absolutely great. Today, we took the direct TGV train from Zurich HB to Paris Gare de Lyon at 13:34 just after lunch.

In the morning, we took another walk through the city, having a look if we can buy some souvenirs or anything crazy from Switzerland – but no… no chance, not even a millimeter, just forget about it!

August 1st is Nationalfeiertag in Switzerland – the national public holiday. Hence all shops remained closed and only some coffeehouses or restaurants remained open.

Nevertheless, we took our small round across the city prior to checking out and walking towards the Central station – where we took our lunch before boarding the train.

The TGV ride via Basel, Mulhouse and Dijon towards Paris took four hours – inspite of partially using two independent LGV tracks between Mulhouse and Dijon and Dijon and Paris. Maximum observed speed was 318 kmh or close to 200 mph.

In Paris, we were nearly overrun by tourists on their way to the south of France as August 1st is a traditional day of starting French holidays. Hence we decided to take a taxi back to Rambouillet (120 Euros) from Gare de Lyon just to escape from these masses of people who did not respect at all the distancing rules. Coming home, you can imaging how happy our two cats Luna and Nera were to see us again back at home – by seeing the photos you can guess which one has which name.

Tomorrow, I will conclude the INTERRAIL 2020 blog session with a summary – like I did it two years ago.

It is great to travel and see the world – but it is also great to be back at home. 🙂


Day 14: Innsbruck – Zurich

The crossing over Arlberg pass presented the highest altitude point in our 15 days round trip at 1260 meters above sea level. We had a very enjoyable ride in ÖBB’s railjet in business class – passing through three different independent European countries today, namely Austria, Liechtenstein and Schwitzerland.

In Liechtenstein, one of the smallest countries worldwide, we took the whole amount of available public railroad kilometres in one go – without stopping even once between Feldkirch in Austria and Buchs in Switzerland.

The passing of the Arlberg area was impressive again as the Inn valley became narrower and narrower and the mountains around higher and higher. The summit is passed inside a tunnel – which also marks an European watershed between the Danube (Black Sea) and the Rhine (North Sea).

In Switzerland, we passed by two large alpine lakes, Walensee and Zurisee, prior to arriving in Zurich after close to 3:40h travel time.

In Zurich, we had our hotel around 800 meters away from the Central station, mainly due to budget reasons as Switzerland is pretty expensive in comparison with Germany, Czech Republic or Austria. Our hotel room was great and we enjoyed it. However, be aware that Zurich is not really a calm city at night, so you need to choose your hotel carefully.

In the afternoon, we went for a walk along Zurisee and had dinner in the traditional restaurant “Zeughauskeller” – with local beer and excellent swiss local food.

After a glass in a small bar in Zurich’s center area, we returned to Hotel Scheuble just after sunset.

Tomorrow, we have our last ride inside our 15 days continious INTERRAIL journey this year – the return to Paris.

Day 13: Graz – Innsbruck

TRANSALPIN – the name of our Eurocity train was the program for today. We took lovely seats in the panorama coach of SBB in our direct train from Graz to Innsbruck.

Six hours of passing through high mountains culminate always an impressive ride – loads of things to see as the mountainous world outside of us changed quickly. We passed by many towns and villages that are very well known for their beauty in the summer for swimming, hiking and calm holidays and their full scale alpine or nordic wintersports activities in the colder half of the year.

The most important ones are:

  • Schladming
  • Hochfilzen
  • Bischofshofen
  • Kitzbühel
  • Zell am See

The two most important passes we have crossed are Schoberpass at 849 meters and Grießenpass at 975 meters, prior to descending to the Inn valley via Brixental. The area around Zell am See with its lake surrounded by high mountains is absolutely remarkable.

In Innsbruck, we had a very lovely hotel room with a view in the aDLERS hotel close to Central station. In the late afternoon, we decided to have a massage treatment in the hotel spa followed by a dinner with a view while the sun was setting out on the terrace (12th floor) with a magnificent view over the tyrolian alps.

The weather was absolutely fine, 30 degrees centigrade and no jacket needed until midnight when we rited to our hotel room.

Tomorrow – the next step through the mountains… via Arlberg Pass to Zurich in Switzerland.


Day 12: Vienna – Graz

Today, we had a rather short trip by train, but a very remarkable one. We went over the Semmeringbahn and Südbahn with a Railjet by Ceske Drahy from Vienna to Graz in just 2:40 hours.

The Semmeringbahn is recognised as World Heritage by UNESCO due to its immense importance in railway engineering in the 19th century – as it was not seen as possible to build a train through this mountainous area based on friction traction at all. The way how the tracks are build into the hills and mountains of Semmering using viaducts and tunnels is absolutely impressive.

From the height of the Donau valley in Vienna at around 160 meters above sea level to Semmering pass summit, the railjet needed to climb 730 meters, prior to decending down to Graz at around 340 meters.

In Graz, we had a room in the IBIS hotel at the central station, hence it was absolutely easy to reach.

After checking in, we went immediately for a walk through the city as we had a thunderstorm warning for the evening hours. We visited the Schlossberg and took a nice walk through the city center of Graz prior to returning to the Hauptbahnhof area – just prior to the big rain falls.

We had a traditional “Kaffee und Kuchen” session in the Aida coffee house – with Eiskaffee and Sachertorte.

Due to the rain, we skipped going out in the evening – other than just jumping into the Italian restaurant close by to the hotel.

Tomorrow, we will have the big Alps crossing to Innsbruck!