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Calling all (eco conscious) party animals! Guest blogger Emily Rycroft from Global Cool tells us how to travel to Vienna, one of Europe’s hottest club destinations, on a traincation. Selected stop-offs in Paris and Munich mean you can get the party started asap…
The average person works 5 days a week for 44 years. That’s around 91,250 hours of knuckling down for the daily grind. Doesn’t all that hard work deserve a break? We want your holiday to start from the moment you’ve left your doorstep (after checking the cooker is definitely off for the zillionth time). So we bring you the Traincation – taking a vacation by train instead of plane – a flight free holiday with some very extra special perks.
The party train to Vienna: London to Paris, Paris to Munich, Munich to Vienna. We’ll keep you filled in on hot nightlife spots, drinking dens and cheap eats to try out en route. Fancy it? Find cheap hotels in Vienna.
London to Paris
Tickets for the London to Paris Eurostar are only £69 return at the moment and the early bird catches the worm – book in advance!
A morning train to Paris will allow you to amble from Gare du Nord to Gare de l’Est with enough time to have a pit stop along the way at Le Café A (148 rue du Faubourg Saint-Martin). From the outside you would never imagine this former convent is now a fantastic secret bar. Through the back is the most beautiful courtyard garden, with leafy trees to sit under with a bottle of wine (around €20). It also has Wi-Fi so you can just relax and let the afternoon float away.
Alternatively get a late afternoon Eurostar and spend the evening and next day in Paris. Head on over to La Boule Noire (120 Boulevard Rochechouart) an unusual bar renowned for its eclectic musical picks. It has gone from a dance hall, to a cinema, to the home of Cabaret, but now it is an intimate music venue, which has attracted the likes of Bloc Party, Jack Johnson and Queens of the Stone Age. After a late night, have a lie in and maybe indulge in a little flea market shopping at Les Puces, The Flea (Porte de Clignancourt, note: open Saturday & Sunday only). Keep your eyes open for street stalls selling crepes for around €3 and try the Nutella and banana flavour. Find a cheap Paris youth hostel.
Paris to Munich
Whichever option you choose, an evening aboard the City Night Line sleeper train to Munich is your next adventure. Try and get a sleeper carriage as they are easily the most luxurious with squashy beds and ample storage space, your own shower and toilet. Book your carriage in advance through Rail Europe and you can get a bed for as little at €90. We’d recommend trying to snap up your tickets at least three weeks before travelling. Pile into a carriage, grab your glass of wine/beer and continue the festivities! You’ll arrive refreshed (and hopefully not too hungover) at Munich the following morning, just in time for a rousing brunch.
For a traditional and reasonably-priced Bavarian meal try the Rechthaler Hof (Arnulfstraße 10), located literally across the street from München Hauptbahnhof (Munich station). For a quick bite we recommend the liver dumpling soup (€3) and the ‘Hawaii’ toast (€7). We know they don’t sound all that appetising but you’re on holiday and we dare you to try something different – you won’t regret it. Make sure you try a few pints of Spatenbräu beer too- but beware it is strong!
The beauty of travelling by rail is you can spend as long or as little time as you fancy at each stop without having to worry about missing a specific flight. If you are in Munich between 17 September and 3 October 2011 you must check out Oktoberfest, the laregest beer festival in the world. If the main tents get too busy for you, find the Atomic Café (Häberlstrasse 19), for a fantastic venue with a very hippy 60’s feel. Expect to be entertained by anything from disco to punk-rock or even some independent live music. Or just take a wander into the centre of town and find one of the many tents for a few more beers and a good old boogie.
If you’re travelling outside of the Oktoberfest period but still want to party never fear – Munich has a great night life to keep you entertained. Check out Hofbräuhaus (Platzl 9), one of Munich’s oldest breweries. They sell beer by the litre here, and the Hofbräu Original is only €7.30.
Find a Munich hostel within stumbling distance of Oktoberfest and top nightlife spots.
Munich to Vienna
The journey from Munich to Vienna takes around four hours travelling on the Austrian RailJet train. It is fully air-conditioned with a well-stocked bar in the middle carriage. If you buy your tickets from a website outside the UK like www.bahn.de, you can get some great savings for this journey and travel for as little at €40. By the time you arrive in Vienna you will already have countless stories to share with your new friends from the journey – much more fun and entertaining than being cooped up on a plane with recycled air, luke-warm meals, a child kicking the back of your chair and broken headphones.
Eating in Vienna
Get a taste for something a little different in Vienna and pick French cuisine. The Café der Provinz (Maria-Treu-Gasse 3) serves the best brunch in town. For just €11.50 feast on a buffet of spelt bread, fresh eggs, cheese, meats, fruit, organic waffles, crepes and pancakes, drizzled with syrup and cinnamon. This chic café is open all year round, but the special brunch is held on weekends and most public holidays. This is a great way to fill your belly on a budget and line your stomach for the partying ahead!
Shopping in Vienna
A trip to Vienna would not be complete without picking up some serious bargains along the way. Avoid the expensive shopping districts and instead heat to one of the many vintage stores. Humana (Lerchenfelder Straße 45) is the biggest second hand store in Vienna, so spend some time rummaging through the mounds of clothing and trinkets, and find yourself a good bargain. Who needs brand new Burberry when you can have pre-loved Louis Vuitton?
Get your groove on in Vienna
If you want a good bar head to Café Carina (Josefstädterstraße im U6 Stationsgebäude). It’s a fantastic underground venue hosting several secret gigs (nb Pete Doherty has played here before!) Grab yourself an Ottakringer Gold Fassl beer for around €6-7 and just enjoy the music. If you’re up for more of a boogie try Fluc Wanne (Praterstern 5). The club is actually inside a tunnel and plays good quality indie dance music well into the wee hours of the morning.
Once you are in Vienna make sure to make the most of the fantastic transport links to see the sights. Vienna has a fantastic network of cycle paths and over 1000 Citybikes for hire (only €2 per day with a Citybike Tourist Card. There are also the ‘Faxis’ which are three wheeled rickshaws to get you around if you’ve had a few drinks. For the more adventurous check out the eco-friendly City Sedgeway Tours, or the Friday night skate. From 10pm each Friday, inline skaters from far and wide meet up at various locations to explore the city. Check nightskating to find the most current starting point.
There are other travel routes between London and Vienna. So if you have a little extra cash to spend then get single tickets for your outbound journey and travel home via Switzerland. Return from Vienna to Zurich through the Alps via the Arlberg Pass. There are a few trains to choose from but the best ways are either the RailJet train via Salzburg & Innsbruck or the EuroCity. After an overnight stay in Zurich, hop on a train to Paris and then pick up a connecting Eurostar home.
WIN! A pair of 10-day rail passes in our European Rail Pass Competition.
Thanks to mekkora and the venues for the images off Flickr! Please note, all images were suitable for use at time of publication according to the Creative Commons license