As the name of this article already says, this was a trip where I traveled by train, following the river Donau (Danube) between 5 different European cities, in 4 different countries:
- Munich (Germany)
- Salzburg (Austria)
- Vienna (Austria)
- Bratislava (Slovakia)
- Budapest (Hungary)
I was inspired by the BBC’s series ‘Great Continental Railway Journeys’ hosted by Michael Portillo, which was broadcasted in Belgium every Sunday evening in 2015 and which was, for me, the perfect way to end the weekend. Watch the episode here: https://gloria.tv/video/gMqNNN3ot7zX6jcfHnVb6Wze8.
Creating a travel plan
For work, I had the opportunity to attend a seminar on Digital & Direct (or B2C) business in Munich. The first thing I thought was:
“Jeeey, I’ve never been to Munich before! And extra jeeey: it’s in Bavaria!” (where one of my favorite, over-the-top but very entertaining tv-shows is filmed: Sturm Der Liebe, which basically means ‘The Storm of Love’, that says it all. 🙂
Of course the traveler in me came out and I started looking where the seminar would be held. Turns out it was about 50 kilometers from the city center and right next to a beautiful lake, where the company has its own training center.
Without a doubt in my mind, I decided to stay a few days longer in Munich. And when looking more closely into all the things I could visit, I noticed something that would change my whole solo trip: it was ridiculously easy to take the train to other cities such as Salzburg, Vienna, Prague, … And while I was looking for information on the internet, I found the BBC series mentioned earlier. The start of my very own ‘Great Continental Railway Journey’! 🙂
Packed for business for the first days and casual chic for my solo trip, well prepared (I also love to go with the flow, but due to limited time, I want to know what is out there before I start exploring, so I don’t loose precious exploring time) and a calendar of candy my boyfriend made, I was off for just over 2 weeks of solo travel fun! 🙂
Business in Munich (Germany)
I love working on an international level: the different languages, cultures, habits, … There are not many occasions to travel for my job, but still: I enjoy every moment, even though business travel also has its frustrating moments, of course, just like when you’re at work at home. And there are always people you get along with and others you’d rather not talk to at all, but the big majority of these colleagues are really nice to work and even hang out with during lunch or dinner :-). The topics were interesting and the weather, food, scenery were all gooooddd. Very tactical: they made each room as tiny as a match box, purely functional, designed to get you out. The room literally seemed to be screaming: “Go & network”. Pretty clever for a business venue.
Time for me-time in Munich
After an intense couple of seminar days, it was time for my Journey to begin. I shared a (very expensive!) taxi with some colleagues to the centre of Munich and checked into my 1st hostel, Wombats. My 1st experience with this chain and I have to say: it was a very nice place, the room (I usually choose dorms of 3 to 6 beds) was big enough, it had an indoor ‘garden’ and the bar was nice, as was breakfast (which was in the same area). Hostels in Munich are not cheap (dorms starting from 25 EUR/night) and I recommend you book a room well before arriving, since I noticed rooms where getting booked very quickly. And this was in April (2015), long before the famous Oktoberfest.
Since I love to get to know a new city on foot, I joined the hostel’s Free Walking Tour the next day. The tour guide was from South-Africa, so I could talk some Dutch (Dutch/Flemish and Afrikaans are related languages, so we understand each other, with some effort) 🙂 . Lunchtime! An authentic bratwurst with a German beer is the perfect way to satisfy your appetite before exploring the city further. Before lunch, I had the opportunity to see the Glockenspiel on the Marienplatz. The tower of the Rathaus comes to life every day at 11:00 and 12:00. More on Munich here.
- Friday: Walking tour and some walking on my own (Wombats hostel, 1 night)
- Saturday: Take the metro to the Fernsehturm im Olympienpark (Euro Youth Hostel, 2 nights), check out the surfers at the Englisch Garden
- Sunday: Free Museum Day (Brandhorst and Alte Pinakoteek), lunch at the Chinezische Turm in Englischer Garten, and hop on the train to Salzburg
In volume 2:
‘The hills are alive in Salzburg’ & ‘In the pursuit of Mozart, on to Vienna’
In volume 3:
‘Small and lovely Bratislava in Slovakia’ & ‘Dive into Budapest, Hungary’
You can find more information about this journey, including tips on where to go for lunch/dinner and what to visit, on my Facebookpage.