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germany and austria trains May 2, 2014-May27, 2014

Will be landing in Frankfurt May 2 and buying train ticket there to Munich in case flight is late or what ever. Then 5 days later will take train to Vienna, after that will leave vienna by train to Melk on May 13....see melk abby that day and then take boat to kerms. Overnight in Kerms for 2 nights , then May 15 need to get from Kerms to Salzburg.....preferably by train. Boat is too slow Rick Steves says and then would have to take train from Melk to Salzburg anyway. May 19 leave Salzburg for Hallstatt where we stay 3 nights. We know we would take a train from Salzburg and change trains at attnang-puchheim to get to halstatt. Know about boat stephanie to the old town center.

May 22 we leave Hallstatt by train to innsbruck where we stay one night. May 23 rent a car and go to reutte (staying at Gutshof Zum Schluxen in Pinswang) for four nights. Will drive to Oberammergu, ettal monastery, drive along plansee and do fallerschein one day. Will walk to Neuschwanstein Castle from Gutshof Zum Schluxen. Also looking for remote lob cabin village rick speaks of...45 min from ruette.

On May 27 we drive back to Innsbruck, turn in rental car and take train to Frankfurt where we overnight and fly to Atlanta the next day.

My question is: My travel agent says they usually book rail pass.....most of the routes require actual seat reservations and she would confirm actual times this way. She says there are no longer "open" times for most trains. Passes are the least economical, but should we have to purchase just one extra ticket it might blow what we have saved. This is in case we miss a train for any reason. If we have to rebook another train, we have to buy a new ticket on another train. ...in most cases. We would have the unused ticket endorsed at the train station and apply for the refund once we arrive back home!!!

Someone at the travel agent's office has suggested we can buy a first class rail pass and get reservations once we are in Europe. My husband took german in high school but doesn't remember it and is afraid the language barrier would make all of this hard. We are not staying where they have a concierge...... but the agent says the front desk people at any hotel can make the reservations for us the day before we travel???!!!

Help, I don't know what to do or which is the best thing to do. Like first class so bags stay with us (two suitcases and two back packs. ) Also we are guaranteed of a seat. When traveled second class bags were way at end of the car from us. Husband nervous about that. Should we get first class rail pass and confirm actual trains as we go or let travel book all trains and seats and hope we don't miss any? We have never missed a train, except one time in Italy the train we came into Naples on was an hour late and they put us on the next train....no extra cost or anything...it was easy, but it was their fault not ours.

Thanks from Alabama

Posted by
5697 posts

Booking point-to-point trains from oebb.com. (EDIT - OEBB.AT ) is easy and cheap -- and in English. You can make seat reservations in second class as well so you can be guaranteed a seat. You can also do JUST seat reservations online at oebb.AT if you get the pass (I wouldn't) BUT if the train is full when you try to reserve seats, the pass won't help.

How big are your suitcases ? We had rollaboards plus daypacks and found room for them in the over-seat racks or between seats.

Munich -Salzburg can be a cheap Bayern ticket (use DB ticket machines)

Posted by
527 posts

Do you mean Krems? If so you would have a better time staying in Spitz, Weisskirchen, or Durnstein. BTW there is no boat that goes from Krems to Salzburg.

Posted by
16883 posts

These train routes do not require reservations, which you will also see if you Look Up Train Schedules Online. The main reason to lock in a date and time for tickets in these regions is if you are trying to get a special advance-purchase "Savings fare." Seat reservations cost about 4 euros extra with either a ticket or a pass.

Flexible option 1): You can buy tickets at the station right up to departure time.

Flexible option 2): If you buy an Austria-Germany pass, you can choose between either 6 or 8 days of train travel within two months and either 2nd or 1st class. 6 days for 2 people totals $752 in 2nd class or $880 in 1st and gives you the freedom to hop on any trains during those 6 days, or to buy an optional seat assignment at any train station (or on the German or Austria web sites).

Bag storage has more to do with the train you're on than the class of service. Carry-on sized bags will normally fit on the overhead luggage rack near your seat. We encourage you to pack light since you'll handle bags yourselves on so many trains, and probably in hotels, too.

By the way, you are back-tracking a bit by going to Halstatt after Salzburg.

Posted by
46 posts

Yes I mean krems. Staying there to shop the stores per rick steves. Need train to Melk or better yet to Salzburg. Thought there was a boat back to Melk but know it is slow going against the tide.

Posted by
46 posts

Thank you Laura for wonderful information. I hope going to Hallstatt from Salzburg is not backtracking too much. Did you mean the website obb. Com or oebb.com as u wrote? Oebb . Com is a religious site . That is fine but not much help with the trains.

Posted by
5697 posts

Sorry! ! Oebb.at is Austria rail website. (Obb if you can put in the umlaut)

Posted by
4690 posts

Where to start...

  1. Get a new travel agent. Rail passes make no sense; first class makes no sense, especially as most of your travel is regional and it is not even available. Second class is fine and, contrary to your post, you can keep your bags with you in any class. Even if you have to leave your bags in the luggage storage rack, don't worry - people here don't steal bags on trains.

  2. Everyone in this part of the work speaks English. There is no language barrier.

  3. You don't need a seat on a train or a reservation. Just get on the train a find a seat. I promise, there will be many available.

  4. Your Wachau Valley portion doesn't make sense to me. Krems (note spelling) for shopping? I have been there and that one just doesn't make sense to me. Personally, I would take the train from Vienna to Krems and then board the WL1 bus to Durnstein, Weissenkirchen or Spitz, all lovely villages along the Danube - and, honestly, the reason for going to this area at all. Stay in one of these villages, not Krems. Krems is fine, but it is a larger town and not the best base for this area. Once you have settled into your village of choice, spend your next full day boating up to Melk on the river (DDSG or Brandner are the companies to look for). From Melk, you can cruise, bike or bus back to your village. Distances are very short. Next day, take the train to Salzburg.

  5. Train details -

Munich to Vienna - buy online, in advance from bahn.de.
Vienna to Wachau Valley - Einfauch Raus ticket - www.oebb.at
Wachau Valley to Salzburg - www.oebb.at; buy in advance to say money.
Salzburg to Hallstatt - einfach raus ticket
Hallstatt to Innsbruck - www.oebb.at

Have a great trip.

Posted by
18310 posts

" My travel agent says they usually book rail pass".

Of course, booking rail passes is the only way they can make money (and that's what they want to do). They make a commission on every rail pass they sell, so that's what they want to do. Booking tickets at the best price on national rail companies doesn't make them any money.

Everything you tell us (the front desk people at any hotel can make the reservations) tells me your agent is clueless.

Staying where "the front desk people at any hotel can make the reservations". Staying there is just one more way to make your trip more costly.

Posted by
46 posts

Thank you everyone. I think I would need my iPad to book these trains online unless the hotels happen to have a computer I can use. Afraid it may be stressful for us. I know it can be expensive to use the internet on my computer over there. Roaming charges etc. Guess we could just go to the train station a couple of day in advance and buy the tickets to get a better price.

Thanks again.

Posted by
12040 posts

If you're buying tickets online while you're already in Europe, it negates the whole purpose of buying online- the advanced purchase discounts. If you wait until you arrive, most of the significant savings will be gone. In that case, just buy the tickets at the station.

PS- Nearly every hotel I've stayed in over the past 4 years since I moved to Europe has offered in-room internet access, free of charge in the majority of cases. Roaming charges are a non-issue.

Posted by
4690 posts

Buy the long distance tickets now, as in today. If you buy them in Europe, you will miss out on the savings. Buying them a few days before will not save you any money. You can buy the Einfach Raus tickets (regional) however, at the station minutes before traveling. You are making this more difficult than it needs to be!