Saalbach by rail
"Attention platform 2. Railjet 640 from Linz to Salzburg is arriving," the station announces. Up to now I have always travelled to Saalbach comfortably on four wheels in my car. This time I'm taking the public transport from Upper Austria to the Home of Lässig. A new experience and a promising journey that already begins on the train.
12:24 Departure from Neumarkt Kallham station in the heart of Upper Austria. With my suitcase and backpack all ready, I stand on the platform waiting for my train to take me the first step closer to Saalbach. I plan my trip a week in advance. To my advantage, because with the ÖBB savings rail ticket I manage to get cheap tickets for a total of €26.60 each way. If I had booked a week earlier, a one-way ticket would have cost only €14.90.
Shortly after the announcement from the loudspeakers, my train towards Linz arrives at the station with a squeaky sound and I am happy to have free choice of seats. Only a few commuters share the carriage with me. I am well prepared for a relaxing journey, so I sit back, grab my book and watch the passing scenery from time to time. Another thing I can't do without on my journeys: music! Because with the right sounds, travelling is much more pleasant and I fall into a daydream about my holiday in Saalbach.
From Linz, the journey continues to Salzburg. Time flies between the two capitals. This is probably also due to the fact that my gaze keeps wandering off into the countryside. For from the rather industrial Linz with its occasional graffiti, the route then runs through green hilly country with a view towards the Alps. Shortly before Salzburg, the view of the Wallersee makes my eyes well up and I realise that you actually miss quite a lot on the motorway. In Salzburg I have time to get a snack before I board the regional express train that takes me to Zell am See.
Shortly after the city of Salzburg, the landscape also changes once again and I find myself between mountains that become steeper, with spectacular rock faces and waterfalls that flow into the Salzach. And as my eyes wander across the countryside, I am reminded of the lines from the book "Slow Travel - The Art of Travelling" by Dan Kieran: "Don't travel just to arrive". Didn't Goethe already say something like that? ;-)
I can certainly identify with these lines as I let the landscape pass me by, because I really enjoy seeing a different side of Austria. And when the surroundings are not so exciting I read my book, plan my stay in Saalbach and do a few emails. So the time on the train is well spent and I don't even have to worry about road works or traffic jams.
When I reached Zell am See, I didn't save any time, but I did save almost 60 kg of CO2 and, given the current fuel costs, even money.
From my last stop in Zell am See I take the number 680 bus to Saalbach. The bus stop is directly opposite the train station, from where I can travel to Saalbach for free with my special ticket*. In Saalbach I then check in at the booked JOKER CARD partner hotel and use the public transport in the entire Pinzgau for free during my stay with the card. Within the town I use a bike, my feet or the hiking bus. I don't need a car of my own for the entire stay. So travelling with a small footprint :-)
Admittedly: The public journey was a little unusual for me. But when I arrive in Saalbach, I'm really happy, relaxed and also a little proud. I get off the bus practically in front of my accommodation and treat myself to a drink. Sure, the journey took a bit longer than by car, but it opened up new perspectives for me and my holiday started as soon as I got on the bus, thanks to the uncomplicated and stress-free journey. I didn't have to concentrate on traffic or fret about traffic jams, nor did I have to worry about having a full tank of gas. And by the way, I did something good for the environment.
*The special ticket can be issued by Joker Card partner companies. Further information at https://www.saalbach.com/de/service/anreise