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Monday, 11 October 2010

InterRailing for Glampackers - Graz to Brno

Austria and Czech Republic and home.

21st September

Austria was a delight to watch from the train. Either gentle pasture with the odd collection of sheep, or dramatic valleys and mountains with waterfalls and lakes.
Bad Warersdorf is a natural thermal water resort in central Styria that takes the phrase ‘back to nature' very seriously, with plenty of opportunities for those of you who prefer doing your water sports naked. Quellenhotel, our wellness hotel was one of those places where you just strolled around all day in a terry cloth robe sampling the different saunas and whirlpools as the mood takes. There is something rather liberating about using a Jacuzzi naked, but that's another story.
With both of us feeling very well after our intensive two days of wellness, we moved on the Eisenstadt, the home town of Haydn in Burgenland, Austria's newest region.

For Haydn lovers it is a veritable treasure trove, but there is also an amazing Palace there the former home of yet another European wealth dynasty the Esterhaze family.
The town is very quiet and not somewhere I would recommend for lovers of nightlife, although coming across a show by an ACDC cover band in the community centre was something of a welcome surprise. Not sure if Haydn would have approved though....
The train onwards to the Czech Republic was a simple process with a quick change at WienerNeustadt and we were over the border in no time and on to our final country.

Moravia, the Czech Republic's southern region, has often been overlooked due to the fame of Prague in northern Bohemia, but now, with its wines gaining a global reputation for high quality, (the whites in particular, are simply delicious), the area is growing in popularity.
But there is more to it than wine. The Liechtensteins lived here before getting their own principality, and left behind some of the grandest palaces and gardens you will ever see. The little town of Lednice has the Liechtenstein legacy all over it, with their vast estate and palace dominating the countryside. The extensive gardens and indoor conservatories are jaw dropping with flora and fauna brought in exclusively from all over the world. These people were so filthy rich they even built huge follies all over the place just to make the countryside views more pleasant. Truly astonishing.
Brno is the Czech Republic's second city, and although nowhere near as big as Prague, it has enough of its own architecture and history to make a stay there very worthwhile.
In particular, Speilberg Castle (no relation to the film director) and the Peter and Paul cathedral. The old city has plenty of little narrow streets to get lost in, with lots of bars and restaurants and like most of Moravia, it will provide good value for money.
Czech food may be a little on the heavy side to eat all the time, but there plenty of other cuisines available as alternatives.
So we finally completed our amazing train journey. 2,500 miles, 6 countries and 14 hotels later we could reflect on a fascinating adventure where we met all kinds on interesting people and places and more than a few interesting stations too!

Travelling across Europe by train was an experience that we thoroughly enjoyed and it proves that you don't have to be a young student to ‘get it'. InteRail on today's network offer you a stress free (well most of the time) way to see Europe without the fuss and palaver of airport security.
Would you need to go first class? If you decide to stick just with major cities then the carriages would be a better standard, there are less crowds and you can use the lounges at the stations.

Otherwise, a standard class ticket will be perfectly acceptable. Of course, a luxury hotel is a different matter entirely......