By Train to Gastein: A Trip to Remember
I’m finally in Gastein/SalzburgerLand for the adidas INFINITE TRAILS World Championships and I want to tell you about my experience of traveling by train from the Bavarian capitol to the valley in the heart of the Austrian Alps.
The train ride from Munich to Bad Hofgastein was absolutely flawless. The train itself was spacious and comfortable, had a clean WC and was on time. It also had some sweet little perks like a power outlet for my laptop, free WiFi and shades that you could pull down on each window if the sun got to be a bit much. All of these things were available in second class and the price of 29€ for an approximately three-hour trip was, in my opinion, very reasonable.
The journey itself was nothing short of sublime. If you’ve never been to the area South of Munich in the direction of Salzburg (home of Mozart), then you will be in for a real treat during your trip to the Gastein Valley.
After an hour or so of fairly non-descript “rat-ah-tat-tatting” down the tracks, you will reach Rosenheim, a decently sized town near the boarder between Germany and Austria. As you pull into the Bavarian town you will start to realize just how close you are to the Alps. The mountains loom large above the picturesque hills and valleys and you could swear that the sky looks clearer and the colors crisper as you go up in altitude.
After a brief stop, you travel alongside the mountain range for a time all the while passing by and through the perfectly quaint villages that are so much a part of “Upper Bavaria”. The tiny villages dot the landscape, each with multiple church towers rising above the rest of the buildings. – It’s an old rule in Bavaria that no structure can be taller than the church steeple and it adds to the small town feel of even the biggest cities in the South-Eastern German state. –
There is around an hour or so between the station in Rosenheim and the next big city, Salzburg and you will make a few quick stops along the way as you head towards the home of Mozart and marzipan chocolates. The area becomes more and more rural and you see far more cows and tractors than people or highways. The Alps are always within view (mostly as you look out the right side of the train) and their power and majesty punctuate the background like a beautiful and ominous exclamation point.
Salzburg itself is a wonderful location and fully deserving of a day trip. With its large castle and city walls prominently visible and its Mozart history and connections with the movie, “The Sound of Music” this Austrian gem is cram packed with things to see and do. Though of course I didn’t spend time there on this trip (I’m too excited to get to Gastein), it’s a stop everyone should consider on their way back from the adidas INFINITE TRAILS World Championships.
Directly after departing from Salzburg you are at the feet of the towering peaks. As you pass in the shadows of the now Austrian Alps, you can just make out, at seemingly impossible heights, Alpen huts and farms with cattle and pastured land somehow resting on the sides of the great precipices.
I don’t know if it was the large coffee I shotgunned or if it was the spectacular panorama but I could feel my pulse quicken and my heart beat faster in my chest as I rambled on towards Gastein.
With only an hour left until you reach your final destination, a twisty, turny route along the Salzach river will give you plenty of eye candy to keep your mind busy as the final minutes tick off. – When you are about five-minutes from Bischofshofen, look up and to your right and you will see the magnificient castle, Erlebnisburg Hohenwerfen, which will make even the most veteran traveler feel as giddy as a school boy. –
Then, before you know it, you are in Dorfgastein and just six minutes later in the main hub of the adidas INFINITE TRAILS World Championships, Bad Hofgastein. Two places that will require their very own blogs to describe their beauty.
The event awaits and its story will be told in the coming days but I can tell you without hesitation, the train ride will not disappoint.
I’m in Gastein.
~ Kevin Gillikin
P.S I have to admit that since I did not have a proper camera and it would be useless through a moving train, the pictures in this blog are all from the Gastein area. The ride itself and its beauty will just have to be experienced to be believed.