Central Europe Adventures 2016 – Part One: Sydney to Innsbruck, Austria

For the second February in a row I jetted off to Europe for a holiday. Unlike last year this trip had a little more planning and was close to twice as long. Over the month of February I visited five countries and caught up with many friends.

To get to Europe I chose to fly on Etihad, whom I have flown to Europe with twice before. However, getting to Europe this time around was slightly different to previous trips, while I could take the usual Sydney to Abu Dhabi flight I chose instead to go first to Perth and then to Abu Dhabi. This allowed me three hours to stretch my legs in Perth and reduce the length of the ultra-long haul Australia to Abu Dhabi leg of the journey.

The trip got off to a bit of a nervous start though, when my first flight, from Sydney to Perth on a Virgin Australia codeshare, was delayed by an hour due to maintenance. The trip then got worse on the flight from Perth to Abu Dhabi as I had two pre-schoolers behind me who decided to yell at each other the entire 11 hour flight. Arriving in Abu Dhabi having had almost no sleep did not make me a very happy traveller, what’s worse is that Abu Dhabi airport has not improved from previous visits and is an extremely busy airport with dirty and congested passenger facilities – from security, to a lack of seating and toilets.

The third leg of the trip from Abu Dhabi to Munich continued to be the never ending journey. I would try to sleep and think an hour had gone by, only to look at the time and realise it had been less than 15 minutes. Eventually I did make it to Europe just before 6am on a Tuesday morning.

I then had to wait until 7.30am for the Deutsche Bahn office to open and validate my EuRail pass before I began the next leg of my long commute. Once I had my EuRail pass in order I jumped on the S-Bahn into Munich’s Marienplatz from where I got my first breath of fresh air in over 24 hours while I walked to the Hauptbahnhof. I was a little disappointed that there was no snow in Munich on this trip, however, it was definitely still beanie weather – and unlike last year I was prepared with one.

After grabbing a hot chocolate for breakfast at Munich Hauptbahnhof and waiting 20 minutes for a delayed train I was then on the final leg of my journey to Innsbruck. As we travelled south from Munich I began to get quite excited as the Alps came into view, but disappointingly they also had no snow on them – it has been a very warm winter. During the next hour we headed into a valley between two ranges where around every turn as we got deeper into the valley we passed small village after small village with each one a little more hidden away in the morning mist. More excitingly snow started to appear on the ground, at first in small puddles and then whole fields were white.

Just before midday I finally arrived in Innsbruck. Leaving the train station you could see the alps rising up in all directions around the city. After walking 20 minutes through to my accommodation I was allowed to check in early and take a much needed shower. After 40+ hours I was also extremely tired, but the weather and the mountains outside looked far too good, so instead of sleeping I decided to go up one…