What happens when an American, a French Canadian and a Brit decide on the spur of the moment to catch a train out of Vienna to check out some Austrian mountains? One heck of an badly organised but worthwhile day trip, it turns out.
Jean raised the idea to pay a visit to the small town of Puchberg. Geoff and I tagged along, but little did we realise how tricky it would be to get there. Jean had to be back to catch the last bus, but after taking first the metro then a local train, we had to wait 40 minutes for a train to Weiner Neustadt and then wait another half an hour to catch a connecting train. While waiting we attempted to find somewhere to withdraw cash, and ended up straying into some kind of train warehouse area, before managing to find the station entrance and an ATM. When we finally arrived at our destination we only had about an hour before we had to catch a train back if Jean was to make his bus on time.
The trek was worth the hassle, though. The town sits at the foot of the aptly named Schneeberg, literally ‘Snow Hill’, and despite the abundance of cloud, the scenery was quite beautiful.
We trekked up the hill following a narrow-gauge railway track, that wasn’t currently in use (we found out later that we were a week early for he season). After stopping by a field, Jean had to head back to catch the train, but Geoff and I decided to carry on.
After passing a few tiny villages we reached the Schneebergdörfl, which seemed to have a higher dog population than people. Beyond the town a road led into the mountain, but we decided to turn back as the clouds were darkening.
Upon returning to Puchberg we grabbed a beer at a restaurant by the rail station and had a chat with a local woman about the town. Schneeberg, it turns out, hosts a race each year that pits man against machine: the ‘salamander’ train putts its way up into the mountain and contenders race it to the top. Apparently people come from around the world to compete.
All things considered, the trip was successful and just goes to show that last minute slipshod plans with woefully insufficient planning can, on occassion, work out really well.