Friday, January 16, 2015

In Austria: Public Transportation (is awesome)

One of the best things about our vacation in Austria was not having to drive anywhere for two entire weeks. Being in a country with a well-developed public transport system makes me realize how dumb it is that we don't have anything like it in the U.S aside from in NY, San Fran, and Chicago. Even the small cities in Austria make it work. Usually affordable, convenient, fast travel in which I don't put myself at risk each and every time I commute to work and play? Yes, please! Oh, dogs are allowed, too? Yes, yes, please! Transportation that doesn't pollute the air that you breathe? HELLO, yes, of course!
My parents don't own a vehicle in Vienna and they don't need one because of the public transport, which includes the underground rail, buses, tram, and the city train. On weekends and holidays the underground lines operate throughout the entire night, probably because it's no secret that people tend to let loose and drink alcohol on weekends and holidays, so the city makes it easy to not have drunk drivers behind the wheel late at night. Fewer drunks operating potentially lethal machines is a good thing for everyone.
While we were in Vienna we used an 8-day pass, which means it can be used any eight days out of the year and doesn't have to be consecutive days. Tickets for the public transportation cost about 2 Euros for any one-way trip within Vienna. You can use the underground rail and change lines as well as use the trains, trams, and buses all on the same ticket without an extra cost. The tickets have to be validated at the blue machines at the entrance of the underground stations and on the buses and trams before boarding any form of  public transportation. If you'll be in Vienna for a few days I suggest looking at the ticketing options to get the best deal.
On a whim one morning over breakfast we decided to travel to Salzburg and then on to Innsbruck. Since it was last minute we didn't have enough time to make dog-sitting arrangements so my parents' dog, Muñeca, had to come with us (which isn't a big deal in Austria where it's rather commonplace to travel with canine companions). We took the underground rail to the train station and there we purchased tickets to Salzburg from the OBB station travel office for four adults and one Hund (dog).
Since we were traveling as a family we were given a private cabin where we could all sit together. The ride lasted several hours due to stopping along the way but we were able to purchase beers, spread out, and enjoy the scenery from the windows. It was a comfortable, hassle-free trip and a fun way to travel.
We were only in Salzburg for a day and did all of our meandering by foot so I'm not familiar with the public transportation there, although we saw many buses and trams, including the awesome crow bus pictured above. I'd like to visit Salzburg again and go on the Sound Of Music tour (which no locals  take) and visit the fortress and when I do I'll check out this website to figure out how to get around. Incidentally, we had the pleasure of getting a ride to the train station from our hotel with the sweetest taxi driver ever. We traveled by train to Innsbruck from Salzburg on the evening of the 23rd which was apparently when everyone else was traveling, presumably to make it home by Christmas Eve. I don't have any photos of that trip because the train was absolutely packed and we all sat apart from each other so I didn't want to bother with my camera. 
After haggling with the ticketing agent at the station for a seating arrangement all together, the train ride back to Vienna from Innsbruck on Christmas day was wonderful. There were very few travelers on board so we were able to lounge around and relax (which made us question why it had been a pain to reserve seats together). We brought along food and drinks and had lunch on the train.
My mom used her iPad, my dad napped, Chris worked, and I lost myself in the book I was reading, All The Light We Cannot See (so good), taking intermittent breaks to watch the countryside pass by through the window, and after a couple of hours we were back in Vienna. Such easy traveling! So if you ever decide to make Austria a travel destination, know that not only can you rely on it's public transportation, you'll probably enjoy it, too.
Happy Friday everyone! Enjoy the weekend!


Anonymous said...

Oh simpler times... bring me back to the train. So relaxing. Cheers to future adventures that take advantage of public transportation and legal consumption of beer in public.


Coot said...

Wow! How cool! And I can't believe the Wunderhund can actually sit on the seats! Is there a pet section, 'cause what I was wondering if it's a problem for people who have allergies?