Have you ever taken a night train?
Most of you know by now: I’m a huge fan of travelling while sleeping on the night train. There’s nothing better than rolling through nature in a charming, calm and comfortable way.
We booked our train through the website of OBB nightjet and were a little confused: the price was better then on the NMBS website, but somehow I managed to make 2 mistakes that had to be corrected by the OBB customer service later on. Our return trip was only booked up to Aachen (no idea how that happened) and my name was linked to the bed in a women only coupé and Tine’s name to the men only coupé.
Luckily all went well during the trip and we had 2 private coupés all by ourselves from Brussels to Vienna: each our own shower, toilet, beds… 4 small bottles of sparkling wine as apero and a decent breakfast included in the price. Our train left on time from Brussels-South at 19h32 on Wednesday evening. For a bed in a 3 person coupé with own bathroom we paid 140 EUR p.p. to go, and 130 EUR p.p. on the way back. It’s not cheap, but the luxury was actually very enjoyable. We took our own dinner with us from the salad bar in Brussels-South. Without realising, a colleague of mine travelled along on the same train, so in the evening we could sit in our coupé to chat while sliding through the countryside.
Around 11am we arrived more than an hour late in Vienna and got a partial refund of 70 EUR a couple of weeks later, to compensate for the delay. Quite a nice gesture.
On Airbnb we found a place described as ‘Central Artsy Room, 7min to Stephansplatz & Center’… This turned out to be the most relaxing and zen airbnb we every stayed. The host Andrija is dedicating his life to meditation and kindly took us along by learning us some new techniques. The talks were really nice and inspiring and the restaurant and city recommendations he gave us were spot on. Andrija will remain in our memories and meditations for years to come!
We spent 4 days in Vienna. Since Tine was pregnant we took it slow and limited the number of activities we wanted to do. You can easily fill a full week with lots of interesting highlights, so we knew we had to skip on some parts. Next time we go we will certainly spend one or two more days to visit some of the impressive musea.
Day 1 – strolling around the city
After dropping our bags we took the time to stroll around in the old center for multiple hours. Had lunch on a terrace (Mochi), saw the Saint Stephen’s cathedral, Albertina, Hofburg where we took a siesta in the park and Naschmarkt. We had dinner in Neni am Naschmarkt, a super good Libanese restaurant with lots of vegetarian options.
Day 2 – DRZ documentary & Hundertwasser
On the second day I went to DRZ. An innovative and inclusive recycling center where I took interviews and photo’s of how this project integrates recycling, repair, up-cycling whila also re-integrating people into the labor market again in no more then 6 months. It has its similarities with ‘de kringwinkel’ as we know it in Belgium, but goes a couple of steps further in the recycling and up-cycling of the materials that come in. More details on this and similar projects can be expected in an article for MO magazine that I should finish in the coming months.
On that very same day I discovered a new hero of mine: Hundertwasser. Already half a century ago this man developed the solutions that are needed to fight urban heating and other ecological challenges that we are now facing. He designed green cities and apartment buildings from which trees can easily grow out of the windows. His paintings are not what attracts me the most, but his lifestyle and believes certainly are impressive. -> go visit the Hundertwasser museum. Walking past the Hundertwasser haus is also fun, but the museum allows you to really feel what the man brought to this world.
To finish the day we got the sunset from the Viennese Giant Ferris Wheel. The 12 EUR p.p. ticket is totally worth the impressive views you get on the city. For dinner we tried out the vegan burger chain Swing Kitchen. They pay special attention to saving CO2, Water and forests, so that’s a nice mission… which certainly does not mean it’s healthy food 🙂 it’s fastfood but with a lower environmental footprint.
Day 3 – The vineyards
Our third day was my favourite one, since it had a good portion of nature in it. We had brunch in Dogenhof before taking the D tramline all the way to the last station in Beethovengang. From there you can start one of the many nature walks of the ‘City Hiking Trails’. We went for Stadtwanderweg 1 – Kahlenberg and made some variations ourselves based on the komoot hiking app. Walking through the vineyards, woods and hills was rewarded with many views on the city and plenty of wine bars spread over the hills to relax, eat and drink (even vegetarian platters in Weingut Wailand).
We finished the day with an accessible classical concert in the golden hall. It was some kind of a “best of” Mozart and Strauss. We bought the cheapest tickets at 55 EUR p.p. and sat on the first row of the Galerie, which we can certainly recommend. We would not have spent 100 EUR or 300 EUR for VIP tickets, since our seats, the acoustics and the whole experience was really good enough from where we were sitting.
Day 4 – relax
Our last day was a slow one to relax before heading back home. We started the day with a highly recommended vegan brunch buffet at Café Harvest. For as little as 17 EUR p.p. we had the best vegan brunch we ever had. So take your time and relax on the terrace.
Since I like to swim in every big river I pass, we went to the Donau and chilled at Porto Pollo where I could easily get into the water. We spent the day reading some books, strolling a bit more through the old center and finding the best place to get Vienna’s famous Sachertorte. Before heading back to the train station, we found it last minute in Cafe Ritter, one of the oldest bars of Vienna.
Our train left Vienna Hauptbahnhof right on time at 20h13. We were swinged back into the night for a good sleep and an early breakfast on Monday morning. A good shower on the train and some morning yoga prepared me to get of the train in Brussels-North and go straight to the office by 10 am.
Travelling more sustainably is important to us. I told you about my personal mission in life in my last post, and we want to show that we are not compromising on comfort or life quality, quite the contrary. Night trains are the way to go! Traveling by night train is way more relaxing than any flight, and polluting ten times less. As from 2022 you can take our European Sleeper, a direct night train from Brussels to Berlin and Prague. If you travel in the coming months you take the OBB Nightjet from Brussels to Austria, or after a short Thalys ride to Paris you get access to multiple night trains in France.
If you want to travel already tonight, then click this link for the best night train sleepstory ever. Almost 3 milion others have traveled along with Erik Braa on The Nordland Night Train straight from their own beds.