This post is written by Katie, about her solo trip to Belgium, Germany, and Austria.
Today I made the long 5-leg journey from Bad Goisern, Austria to Brussels, Belgium.
I woke at 7:20am and had breakfast at 8am with the two other people staying at Herberge Mörtel Mühle. As I looked outside I noticed it was raining, so I was not looking forward to the 7 minute walk to the train station. I was able to pack my hiking boots in my backpack though, so I could wear sandals for the rest of my trip. I paid for my three nights (Herberge Mörtel Mühle only accepts cash) and headed to the Bad Goisern train station at 9am (when it was no longer raining!) to catch the 9:22am regional train to Bad Ischl (Euro 2.10). It was 8 minutes late, but I had a long connection for my bus so I did not care.
Herberge Mörtel Mühle (Euro 85.50 for three nights in a 7-bed female dorm on Booking.com) worked out nicely for me, and I really enjoyed staying in Bad Goisern. My female dorm room had 7 beds, but I had just one room mate each night. The hostel opened in early September, so the owner says he is trying to keep occupancy low for now while he continues to get everything settled. You would not know it just opened though. The host is great (he was trained in tourist services when he was younger, but was a woodworker for a while) and really knows the area and had good suggestions regarding activities. He let my room mate borrow his bike for free one day. Everything was clean. Sheets are provided, but you must provide your own towel. There is no kitchen for use, but the owner is willing to cook dinner for an extra fee (I never tried this). Breakfast was great – with notice he will cook whatever you want. Otherwise he serves juice, apples, bread with butter and home-made jam, coffee/tea, and an egg scramble with tomatoes, paprika, onions, ect. Wifi is great in the downstairs sitting area, but does not work in the rooms since the owner wants people to be social and sit in the lounge.
I waited at the Bad Ischl station until my 10:24am bus to Salzburg (Euro 10.40). As I was waiting it started raining. I put my big backpack underneath the bus this time which made the trip a bit more comfortable. We left the bus station at 10:30am. The bus ride went by quickly and we arrived at the Salzburg Hbf shortly before noon as scheduled.
Once at Salzburg Hbf, I found a Deutsche Bahn machine and booked my train seat reservations for my Salzburg to Munich leg and my Frankfurt to Brussels leg (since you can not make international reservations online unless you buy a ticket – I had made my Munich to Frankfurt reservations online the night before). Then I went to the large supermarket in the Salzburg train station, where prices were surprisingly reasonable. After eating my pretzel, apple pastry, and yogurt drink (Euro 2.92 for all of it), I headed to platform 2 to wait for my 12:56pm RailJet 60 to Munich.
The RailJet trains are so nice, plus they make the trip from Salzburg to Munich non-stop. They are clean, the seats are comfortable, and there is plenty of leg room. I enjoyed both of my RailJet train rides this trip!
We arrived at the Munich Hbf at 2:28pm, just 3 minutes late. There were many shops selling Oktoberfest clothing, many people wearing Oktoberfest clothing, and many people sleeping and/or passed out around the station. It was a pretty hectic sight. I should have stopped to take pictures of the madness, but instead I quickly made my way over to ICE 622 (which was already at its platform) and boarded. I had an assigned aisle seat in wagon 22, as it was both necessary for my railpass and for actually getting a seat (there were only about 20 seats left the previous night when I reserved, none being window seats). I booked a seat near a luggage rack, and easily put my large backpack there. However, the luggage rack seemed to fill quickly so it is good I boarded about 18 minutes before the 2:50pm departure. The wagon stayed full the entire trip, but people did not seem to be standing in the aisles (at least in my wagon). I had booked a ‘quiet’ wagon, so it was not as loud and roudy of a journey as I had somewhat expected. It was really not a bad ride besides not being able to see outside or enjoy the (rainy) scenery due to being in an aisle seat. I spent most of the journey reading on my Kindle and blogging. We arrived in Frankfurt Flughafen Fernbahnhof just before 6:30pm.
I was able to just wait on the platform since my next train (ICE 10) to Brussels departed next from that same platform. The station map lead me to believe my wagon would arrive in one place, but in reality it arrived on the other end of the platform. I hurried about halfway down the platform, and then just boarded the train and moved back from there. As you can imagine, this was not easy with my large backpack.
I saw a huge rainbow shortly into our journey from Frankfurt to Brussels. I was seated in a little 3-row quiet section of the train. My seat had paneling instead of a window, but I could lean forward and look out the window. The train (or my compartment at least) became rather full when we stopped in Cologne. But it was a nice ride. This was the first leg where the conductor actually cared if I had a seat reservation for my rail pass. The train underwent some construction delays and did not arrive at Brussels Midi until 10:15pm. I was not thrilled to be back in Brussels, but I was surprised by how much more comfortable I felt in the metro and on the streets than when I had left just a week earlier.
I took the 2/6 metro towards Simonis and got off at Simonis. Then I intuitively found the Brussel Hello Hostel (Euro 22.05 for one night in a 4-bed female dorm on Booking.com) about 2 blocks away from the metro station on my first try. I have gotten pretty good at intuitively navigating. I checked into Brussel Hello Hostel and had to pay a Euro 1 surcharge for using a credit card (since I did not have enough cash left and my booking was less than Euro 50). I had booked a 4-bed female dorm (since it was just $1 more expensive per night than a 6-bed room when I stayed), and all the female rooms were in a different building about block away. This was not a problem, and was actually pretty nice to not have to deal with any men once you entered the building.
I only had one roommate in my 4-bed room – a girl from Bremen, Germany who was coming to Brussels for her masters in social sciences and was staying in the hostel until she found an apartment. She was really nice (she even gave me some Germany chocolate that her mom had packed!), and we chatted for a bit. She brought up how she found some of the men on Brussels to be rather creepy/concerning, especially in how they just stare at you. There were actually some great examples of these fine men right outside our hostel! I was glad to hear that I was not the only one that was noticing this.
Then I showered – the showers at Brussel Hello Hostel are small with no changing area and no shelf for your soap, shampoo, ect. I guess you are supposed to hang your clothing on the hooks on the shower door – which would be problematic if the shower actually had any pressure. It was also a push button shower with no temperature setting, which was slightly annoying. I finally got in bed around midnight.