With a tiring day at Prague, we chose to wake up a bit later and take the late morning train which departs 10:39 am from Prague. This time, we took a short taxi ride which wasn’t that long but it wasn’t a really cheap ride for such a short distance and duration. Upon reaching the train station, we were still early and due to the different currencies for Czech Republic and Europe, we decided to spend most of the Korunas. It should be noted that most places accepts Euros in place of Korunas so don’t change too much if one is just staying a day or two in Prague. There’s a pattiserie shop and several snack shops in the main railway station in Prague. After getting our breakfast and some juices, we proceeded to our platform to board our train to Vienna. Unlike the train that brought us to Prague which was owned by the Hungarian Railway Company, the train that brought us to Vienna was from the Austrian Railway Company. This meant newer and modern train, with a cabin arrangement similar to the ICE Train in Germany that plies between Hamburg and Berlin. There was also a dining car in the train for the long journey and I have expected lunch to be had on the train.
The journey from Prague to Vienna took around 5 hours due to the relatively low speed tracks that it runs on within Czech Repubic. It doesn’t help that most of the journey passes by Czech territory. However, one highlight was that this train will pass by Brno, which is the second largest city in Czech Republic. The train passes by several other townships like Kolin and Pardubice as well providing an overview of the cities and towns of Czech Republic. In comparison to the hills and valleys that we pass by on the way to Prague, the scenery of central Czech is relatively plains, though the great weather and rolling hills as well as the numerous stops along the cities makes this a good journey to see where the Czechs live.
The town of Brno seems to be an interesting stop for those looking for an alternative to crowded Prague. The approach to the main railway station was great and with the station located right in the city centre, it provided passengers with a view of the city. In fact the spires of Brno’s main cathedral can be seen from the station itself. This might perhaps be a stopover for visitors intending to travel through to Vienna and thus making the journey into 2 shorter and less hurried trips. After stopping at Brno to alight and take passengers, the train once again departed, passing through more rolling hills before reaching the last major city before entering the Austrian territory – Břeclav.
The train station in Břeclav has an old school feel to it, reminding me of those train stations I read as a kid in the children’s story books. A small nondescript station with a small office and several benches. The solitude and surrounding farmlands give a sense of tranquility to the area. As we enter Austria, though, there appears to be more industrial areas, and since I began to get hungry, we headed to the dining car where I ordered an omelette for lunch. Since I had eaten some croissants, wafers and other snacks during the train journey, the plate of omelette was filling enough for lunch. It didn’t taste as great as the breakfast I had on the way to Prague, but it was still good. The side dishes of potatoes was nice while the cabbage and paprika mix was really unappetizing.
With lunch completed, we returned to our seats and there was still sometime left before reaching Vienna. The approach to Vienna went through industrial areas including the furniture warehouses, stadiums, and several interesting factories. One instance was the Bombardier factory which had a model of its tram undergoing testing in the backyard facing the railway track. The Canadian company Bombardier, it seems, makes some of the trams and subway trains in service at Vienna and some German cities. Another great view to take note is when the train passes the Danube, where passengers are treated to a view of the United Nations Office at Vienna in the distance. Before entering the Vienna Meidling Train Station, the train passed by this huge construction area, which I then realized would be the future location of the Hauptbahnhof or the new Vienna Main Railway Station. Travelers to Vienna by train should be welcomed by this new train station which looks futuristic enough and give Berlin’s Hauptbahnhof a run for what its worth by 2012. For now, our train will stop at Meidling, which is further from the Innere Stadt or the Inner Ring where most of Vienna’s attractions are located at. Meidling isn’t any spectacular though it has several hotels around the station, otherwise, it seems more of a residential area. It is easy to transfer via the U-Bahn from this station, though to catch a taxi, it is a short walk to a small street across the station entrance.
This train ride is perhaps one good way to explore Czech Republic on the way to Vienna. Moreover the comfortable and modern train substitutes for the great scenery that we can see from Berlin to Prague. The duration of this train journey was a bit too long than I thought to be comfortable and the food provided at the dining car was average. It would perhaps be a very great train ride if high speed tracks are in place and a more varied quality food menu was on offer.