The travel home seemed to take a little longer than usual for our trips to Europe and it started with bang. Boris and I got up at 5 am so we could catch our 6 am train to Munich. I am not sure it even took us 5 minutes to get to the train station at that early hour. Most people just arrive shortly before departure time. We decided that since we had these big bags we had to lift up to the overhead luggage racks that we should go ahead and get on board and get settled so we wouldn’t crush anyone with our luggage.
The Salzburg train station is modern and easy to navigate and is now down one escalator. There are staircases and even an elevator, but our rolling duffles work well on an escalator so we used that. I have an older version of the large duffle that opens like a doctor’s bag so it is easy to locate things inside. That was the large bag I was pulling. In spite of the fact that there are some metal support rods that are coming out and scraping the ground, the bag is still otherwise in good shape and a favorite. Those rods worked against me this time. When we got to the top of the escalator, where the separated stairs go together to make the return trip down, one of the metal rods on my bag got caught between the stairs. The escalator stopped. Boris was behind me. He grabbed his bags and walked around me. Thanks for the support.
I tried to pull the rod out of the stairs without success. Fortunately, I was able to pull the rod out of the bag, and got my luggage to the waiting train. There was no one around. I would have told someone if the station hadn’t been deserted. In fact, no one else even got in the same car until 40 minutes into the trip. Boris decided that it was all captured on the security cameras and that I am now “wanted” in Austria. It did feel like I was escaping the country when the train pulled out of station. (Thats right, Liesl Von Trapp actually escaped Austria by train too.) I breathed a sigh of relief when we crossed the border. While in Austria, a metal rod stuck out of an unmoving escalator.
We had tickets to go all the way into central Munich, which is the station we had left from when traveling to Salzburg. However, on the way to Salzburg we had noticed another stop that indicated an airport connection. Munich East (Ord) Station offers a train (underground/subway, depending on your slang) connection to the airport. We got off at that stop about 15 minutes before the center station and literally could go to the other side of the platform to catch the train. It sounds easy, but we actually went down the elevator with the bags before we realized it was the same platform. Then, we went back up and 3 minutes later the train arrived. The careful reader will note that I used the elevator and not the escalator this time.
Train travel is a novelty for me. I enjoy it. The views on our Munich-Salzburg route were breathtaking. Some of the announcements/signage is in English and some is not. You have to be prepared to figure it out a little; part of the fun. All of the stations we used were modern and easy to navigate. They offered convenient lockers so you could travel to the city, lock up your bags for the day, tour, and turn and collect them later. Cost will vary; the ones we used in Munich were 6 euros each. We got two bags in each locker. Boris was expecting food on the train, which there was not. But there are so many food and drink options in the stations, just grab something and carry it aboard.
The only downside to doing the train and both flights on the same day is it made the travel time much longer. After arriving at the airport train stop, it was a short walk to the terminal. We arrived so early we had to wait for check-in to our flight to begin. After passport control and security, we enjoyed the lounge in the Munich airport. Boris did a little shopping. I leaned back in a great chair and dozed.
You can fly directly into Salzburg and plenty of people from our conference did just that. If you have the time, take the train and enjoy the scenery. The ride from Munich is less than two hours and you begin and end at convenient points in the city with multiple forms of public transportation. Even with our large duffle bags, we managed well (one escalator excluded).
You could spend several days in Salzburg alone, but if you limited on time it is also an easy day trip from Munich. Munich appeared to be a great home base for travel. There were multiple tour options within the city and for day trips. While there, I heard from a close college friend who was reading the blog and whose daughter was actually in Munich. Her group had based their touring out of the Munich. I too would have liked to have seen the fairytale-like castle at Neuschwanstein. Dachau Concentration Camp is another popular day trip from Munich. Day Trips to Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest were available from both Salzburg and Munich.
They say timing is everything. Sometimes it depends on your priorities. The off-season, as it is now, means lighter crowds. It is easier and faster to get around and access attractions. Natasha loves getting unobstructed photos too. The downside is that not everything is open in the colder months. The leafless trees meant I saw more, but wouldn’t it have been spectacular to see some of these places when things are green and the flowers blooming. Personally, I am going to look at it as an excuse to go again (assuming they will let me back into the country).
As for our accommodations, I was pleased. The Hilton Munich Park is a great option if you don’t need to be right in the old city. Be prepared to use public transportation to get to the major attractions. Natasha tries to accumulate points with a single brand to earn those free trips. In fact, some American chains are much nicer abroad than at home. The Schloss Leopoldskron is an option for Salzburg accommodations even if not part of a conference. The access to the estate may make it worth your stay there. I do offer one word of warning: bring your own toiletries. There was a built-in soap dispenser by the sink and one in the shower. Thats it. Rooms in the Schloss are large with big bathrooms; they are not modern. Rooms in the Meierhof have high ceilings with renovated bathrooms, but the furnishings are insubstantial modern.
If I were to do it again, I would still use the train but with add a stop off at the end and break up the travel (like we did at the front end of the trip). We take plenty of 24 + hour travel trips, but there is no reason to do that when going to Europe from the USA. This was a fabulous trip; now I just need another reason to go back.