by Geoff Moore, TheTravelTrunk.net
I was going to Baden bei Wien that day. “Oh”, exclaimed my hotel receptionist, “that’s the tram that turns into a train!” My interest kept growing as I made my way to the Opera house in Vienna. That is where this supposed metamorphosing transport leaves four times an hour.
Was this going to be the ride of my life as I boarded what seemed to be a typical tram that you see across much of Eastern Europe?
Or could it be a travel ‘transformer’ rather like the hit film and the toys that are packaged with it that morphs into the ‘Orient Express’ en route the 30 kilometre’s south to the pretty spa town of Baden. It was somewhat a disappointment when suddenly the road rails went and the tram seamlessly rolled onto a continuation of track and sleepers without any hint that a change had occurred.
No heaving of hydraulic motors, no sounds of panels creaking rather like a giant folding roof opening, no flash bang wallop and an engine suddenly appearing in front! The female driver pushed her throttle lever in her driver’s cab. We were heading onto a rail track rather than a roadway as we left the tram stop at Schedifkaplatz.
This service is called Lokalbahn Wien to Baden: No grand theatrical effects to burst in front of your eyes. However, you do get the chance to take in an impression of life in the suburbs as you head to the charming spa town.
The tram/train gently leaves the area around the opera, trundles out of the city centre through some tunnels and stops below ground in the outskirts of Mödling. It is here that it makes its underwhelming transition from tram to train.
The Commercial Draw
The industrial area of Industriezentrum Niederösterreich Süd gives way to a slightly more rural one. At Vösendorf station you pass the huge out of town shopping complex on your left of Shopping City Süd, Austria’s biggest shopping centre with over 300 retailers from major European chains. Quite a number of passengers alight here with such a retail draw. I was not tempted. There is always another day…?
Vineyards And Vienna Woods
This more industrial area is followed by some views of the Vienna Woods (Wienerwald) mountains and a glimpse of some of the vineyards that surround much of Vienna. It is not the most prettiest of journeys but it’s relaxing and makes a change from the too perfect cityscapes that dominate in the capital itself.
Close to the final destination the quick-change train turns back into a tram again as it rolls along the narrower streets again in the outskirts of Baden.
‘Ode To Joy’ – Baden Bei Wien
Baden bei Wien dates back to the Romans but has become, and excuse the pun, a hot spot for the Austrian and Viennese society for over 200 years.
The town with its extensive well tended gardens, the Kurpark surrounded by spa and wellbeing hotels plus the popular casino built in the 1930’s.
If Ludwig van Beethoven had some 60 plus homes in Vienna he also had a number here too. One of them is currently being refurbished but more importantly it is where he worked on is famous ‘Ode to Joy’ in his 9th symphony.
The 14 hot thermal sulphur springs in the town that today draw thousands of visitors did the same for fellow composer Mozart, for royalty like the Habsburgs who had summer palaces nearby, Russia’s Peter the Great took the waters as did Napoleon and waltz king Johann Strauss certainly entertained visitors in the park.
This compact Beidermeier designed town is full of charming streets, shops, cafés, hydro hotels, imposing and picturesque villas, certainly a pleasant place for a day trip from Vienna.
The advantage of the tram/train is that it is city centre to town centre, a programme’s throw from the Vienna Opera House to Josefplatz, a splash away from the thermal delights of Baden. City passes are not taken on this service so you will have to purchase a ticket from the blue ticket machines or from the kiosk itself opposite the Opera house costing €6.60 each way. You can return to the city the way you came, an hour each way. There is a bus option and even a fast train only service from the town’s main railway station that takes around 20 minutes.
Travel writer, blogger photographer Geoff Moore has been visiting Vienna every year for over 20 years. A member of the British Guild of Travel Writers he has fallen big time for Austria’s capital city and makes sure he finds time to visit. His travel website and blog The TravelTrunk have many items about Vienna and he is always looking for any interesting things to see and do for his next visit.