Today has been...I don't really know the word. Maybe 'sobering'? I'm not sure, but it's been a bit of a strange day for us. We've definitely added to our bank of experiences today though, and also we've seen quite a lot of stuff. More on that in a bit.
I'm writing again from the hostel lobby in Salzburg. It's nice and quiet in here now.
I realised one thing that I haven't told you about this place. Salzburg is in fact where 'The Sound of Music' (the musical) is set. So there are quite a few references to it around the town, but none more so than in our very own hostel. Every evening at like 7pm or something, The Sound of Music is shown in the lobby. EVERY EVENING. It is almost religious here. Even the wifi password is 'thesoundofmusic'.
There are always quite a few people in the lobby to watch it (seeing as the turnover of guests is so high), so normally it's impossible to do anything in here when it's on. Even if there is space/a plug socket available, the songs from the musical become too distracting and nothing gets done.
However, there was a bit of space when it was on earlier, which is also when I was finishing the last blog post. And I have to admit, I got a little bit sucked in. Enough to miss the beginning of the second half of the England game. Fuck my life.
And as for the England game...let's not even go there! I suppose the one comfort I can take from it is that England hasn't changed too much since we've been away!
It's getting a bit late here now, and I need to be up early in the morning, so I'll get on with describing today's events.
So today I set my alarm for 9am. Sam has been getting up at 7am every morning recently (why the fuck would you do that?!), so he has been going downstairs and getting breakfast before me, and then just chilling on the internet. So when I woke up and headed down to the bar for breakfast, Sam was already there.
I met Sam in there, so we both finished our breakfasts. And then we came up with a plan for today.
We had big plans today. We wanted to visit a village called Hallstatt, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and probably the most beautiful place you will ever see in your life. Look it up on Google Images. It is unbelievable.
We'd planned to visit Hallstatt a long time ago when we were first deciding on where we wanted to go on our trip. We searched up the best places to visit in Austria, and when it came up we were pretty dead-set on getting there.
Logistically it was a little bit difficult though, which you could probably imagine if you've looked up images of this place. From Salzburg train station, we had to get a train to a place called Attnang-Puchheim (so a nice easy name to remember), and from there get a train to Hallstatt, with the journey taking about 2 hours 30 minutes in total. Even then, from Hallstatt train station, you have to take a 10 minute ferry ride to the main town.
So we looked at the train times, and we could either get a 12.10 train from Salzburg or a 13.10 train. I still had to get in the shower (you can probably already guess what's coming up at this point), so we said we'd decide once I was all ready because it wouldn't make a massive difference.
By the time I was all ready, it was about 20 minutes until our train left. It takes 10 minutes to walk to the station from the hostel, so that sounds feasible, but we still had to pack a bag to take with us and sort out some shit in our room, and I think there was something else that we had to do but I can't remember. So the 13.10 it was.
Somehow, we still managed to leave the hostel only 20 minutes before the train THIS train left. I can't even remember what we were doing that made us leave so late. What the fuck.
We'd seen on the internet that our train would be leaving from platform 33a (there aren't like 33 platforms in Salzburg; it goes up to like 12 and then randomly up to 33 for some reason), and when we checked the departure boards, there was a train leaving at 13.10 from this platform, so we were confident all of the information was right.
Our train was already in the platform, so we got on it with about 8 minutes to spare.
There's something you should know about Austrian people...THEY DON'T KNOW WHAT AIR CONDITIONING IS. Seriously. Even as I'm typing this blog post now in the lobby, it is really warm.
So when we got on this train not long after MIDDAY, it was a fucking sauna. Why would you do that?
Once the train got moving, it was a bit better because the windows opened quite widely, so it was bearable eventually.
So from what we'd checked at the hostel, it took just less than an hour to get to Attnang-Puchheim from Salzburg, so we worked out that it would get in at roughly 2pm.
The scenery on the way was really incredible. We didn't take any photos unfortunately, but there were some really dramatic mountain landscapes and everything looked great in the sunshine. It was nice to see some more Austrian villages and stuff too.
It was getting towards 2pm, and the train started to slow down. There were no electronic boards or anything on these seriously outdated trains, so we had to wait until the boards on the platform came into view to find out what station we were at. We were assuming that this was our stop, considering what the time was.
It wasn't. It was some other small place which was impossible to pronounce. Oh.
The train was stopping quite often at this point, so we thought that it might be the next stop or maybe even the stop after that. Perhaps the train was a little delayed.
The next stop wasn't our stop either.
We had a look at the map on the train (this was the one thing it did have), and on the route we were on we couldn't see the name of our station anywhere. Shit.
Getting slightly worried at this point, we decided that if the next stop was not our stop (perhaps it would be under a different name on the map, which wouldn't have been surprising considering how fucked up the actual name is), we would get off, find out some information, and then get the required train.
As we guessed, it wasn't our stop, so we got off.
We found the departure boards at the station, and looked for Attnang-Puchheim. It took us a while but we found it. And it was fucking annoying too.
The train we had to catch to get there called at Salzburg and the other stops we'd just passed before reaching Attnang. So we were on the right line, but had travelled in the WRONG DIRECTION.
Taking into account the fact that it takes almost an hour to get from Salzburg to Attnang, and it took an hour to get from Salzburg to where we were, that would mean that it would take another 2 hours before we reached Attnang.
We would spend over 3 hours getting to a place that takes less than an hour to get to.
But there was nothing we could do.
The station we were in was almost empty, apart from a few very annoying flies. We had to wait about 40 minutes for our train, so Sam went for a little walk around while I looked after the stuff at the station
Sam got back and told me that there was nothing interesting, and we went to the platform to get our train. It came on time, so back towards Salzburg we went.
Thinking about it, it's lucky that we had our InterRail which meant that we could hop on and off trains as we pleased. If we'd had to book the trains or something we would have been completely screwed.
Something really really funny happened on this train.
It was one of those trains where there is a narrow corridor and then there are sets of like 6 seats which you get to by opening a sliding door. The only example I can give is the Hogwarts Express in Harry Potter (LOL). So just picture that. We travelled on the Hogwarts Express...
But anyway, a woman opened the door and asked if she could sit in our compartment thing (or whatever you call it). We said yes. But just as she standing up and sorting out all of her stuff, Sam went to put something in the bin. The bin was one that folded down from the desk, with the opening pointed towards the door.
Now what happened next was fucking ridiculous.
Sam pulled open the bin, but accidentally pulled the bin too hard, making it go horizontal and making it empty its contents onto the floor.
There was one lonesome, rotting apple core in the bin.
And this apple core managed to roll out of the bin, roll for 2 metres along the floor of the compartment, and land on this woman's foot.
It made a massive brown mark on her shoe.
I ERUPTED with laughter.
WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK!!! DID THAT SHIT SERIOUSLY JUST HAPPEN!
I soon stopped after I realised that this person probably wasn't too pleased with what had just happened, but I barely managed to control it. For the rest of the journey, I kept having to stifle fits of laughter, covering my moments of weakness with a cough. It was fucking hilarious.
Sam was the same too.
When we arrived in Salzburg an hour later and the woman got off the train, we both laughed hysterically until we cried for about 15 minutes straight. What a moment.
We had to stay on the train to get to Attnang, but annoyingly the train hung around in Salzburg for about 20 minutes before finally leaving.
We saw some different scenery which was nice...some lakes and shit, with typically nice houses scattered around.
When we got into Attnang, we headed straight for the departure boards again.
No sign of Hallstatt.
For fuck's sake!! Why?!?!?!
So we went to the ticket office as fast as we could (the next train left in like 15 minutes, so if it was that one we had to be quick). While Sam was in the queue, I had a look at a map which was in the ticket place, and I found Hallstatt. I checked the other stops around it, and then went back to the departure boards to see if I could find the relevant train.
I found it, and when I came back to the ticket place, Sam had just found out the same information I had. So we knew which train we had to get and from which platform.
When we got up to the platform, we still had almost 10 minutes until the train came, so we had a look at the timetable boards so that we could plan our journey back from Hallstatt.
And this is the point where the whole day unfolded in front of us.
The last train from Hallstatt to Attnang left at 18.30. The train we were about to get on would get us into Hallstatt at 18.47. So if we went, we wouldn't be able to get back.
SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT
It took a little while for it to sink in, but we realised there was nothing we could do.
We had to go back to Salzburg. All our other options were gone. Also, because it is a Sunday, all of the supermarkets are closed, so we would need to get dinner from the hostel, which stops being served at 8.30pm.
So we found out the platform and time for our train to Salzburg, and waited for about half an hour on the platform.
We picked out the good points - we hadn't spent any money during the day (because we hadn't been anywhere), we'd seen quite a bit of the Austrian countryside from the train, it saved us the stress of trying to negotiate a trip back from Hallstatt to Salzburg, it left us the opportunity to visit it in the future, and also we knew that we were going to get dinner.
But clearly we were gutted. Me especially - I'd been looking forward to Hallstatt for the whole trip and it would have been beautiful.
So this is the point in the blog where I unveil crazy shit.
I promised you a surprise in the last post, so here it is.
You may be wondering why we couldn't visit Hallstatt tomorrow, for example, so we could still see it before the end of the trip.
And this is because...TODAY WAS THE LAST PROPER DAY OF OUR TRIP.
WE ARE COMING BACK HOME TOMORROW.
That's right. We're leaving Salzburg this morning and InterRailing all the way to Calais, where we will get the ferry back home, if all goes to plan.
So you can see why I was more than a bit gutted. It was the last day of the trip and it was supposed to be something pretty special.
But that's life I suppose. Thinking about it, Hallstatt is the only place we haven't been able to visit out of the places we'd planned to in THE WHOLE TRIP. That's pretty amazing actually. We've managed to find our way to every single place on our list, apart from possibly the hardest place of all to get to. And even then we were unlucky.
I still don't know why the first train we got in Salzburg went the wrong way. If the train is on the right platform and leaves at the right time, that is normally a pretty safe indicator that it is your train, especially in a place like Austria where there aren't millions of trains. Not only that - it was on the same line as the train we'd planned to get...how does that make sense?
But it's better not to dwell on it. Taking into consideration the trip as a whole, this is a tiny tiny blip on an unforgettable experience.
Our train back to Salzburg was a double-decker train with reclining seats. Awesome.
We got back at about 6.40pm, and made our way back to the hostel via a cash machine.
So we had dinner again at the hostel, this time we both had the Salz-Burger (this made us laugh...it's just an ordinary cheeseburger) with chips and unlimited salad. It was good.
We met an American guy and we all watched the football together in the bar.
No need to go into any more detail than that!
And that is pretty much it!
I've had to rush the end of this post; we have a VERY EARLY train to catch. More on this tomorrow (or today, time is fucked up on this trip).
So this is almost it! We've almost reached the end of the trip!
I don't have time to make this any more dramatic, so I'm going to have to leave you here.
But there's enough time to give you a persuasive nudge in the direction of tomorrow's blog. YOU MUST READ THIS. The last one from the trip!
Our journey back to England is not simple, as you can imagine, so I'm there will be more than enough entertainment and anecdotes for you.
I must get ready now!
So thank you for reading, and good night!!!
Jack - 25/6/12 - 02:50 in Salzburg, 01:50 in the UK.