Merry Christmas! An Alpine rail journey from Austria to Venice.

Hello from Venice Marco Polo airport where I’m just about to start a trip down-under, flying with Lufthansa and Singapore airlines to Sydney via Frankfurt and Singapore.

Why Venice? There were some great deals on fares from Italy back in the summer, so I jumped on it.  Plus its reasonably close to my folks place in Austria and so only a few hours and a stunning train ride away.

The journey here was pretty stunning and started at around 08.00 this morning where my wonderful parents dropped me off at the rather picturesque St. Johann im Pongau railway station, around a twenty minute drive from our second home.

St. Johann im Pongau Bahnhof

I was due to get two trains, RailJet 898 as far as Villach in southern Austria, where I would have seven minutes to connect to RailJet 131 to Venice.  With a seven minute connection time.

Given most British railways are closed on Christmas Day (and most on the 26th as well), the idea of a seven minute connection on a day likely to be filled with delays and engineering works I thought was a tad optimistic, but decided to give it a go.

Well my train at St. Johann arrived perfectly on-time.  The RailJet is ÖBB’s premium train, and they actually have three different classes, standard / second class, first class, and finally business class, which is in a 1:1 configuration with comfy recliner seats.

ÖBB RailJet Business Class seating

The journey from St. Johann to Villach was due to take roughly 1h 40mins and passed through some truly fabulous scenery.  The part through Bad Hofgastein and Bad Gastein in particular were stunning.

Descending from the mountains we arrived into Villach a minute early.

Rather shockingly, my connecting train, originating in Vienna, was running a whole six minutes late.  However after a few minutes, it arrived and again, I was safely on board for the three hour journey through Northern Italy to Venice.

RJ131 running six minutes late

The scenery wasn’t quite as spectacular for most of the trip, but it slowly wound it way through the countryside.

Northern Italy

The food on board was quite good – I opted for some Backhendlsalat which was nicely warmed up. However it’s not the same as first class trains in the UK which typically include free food. This cost €8.90 which I thought was pretty good value to be fair.

Backhendlsalat on the RailJet to Venice

We arrived exactly on-time into Mestre station. The main terminus at Venice is actually Santa Lucia, however Mestre is more convenient for getting to Marco Polo airport.

The Ginger Travel Guru at Venice Mestre railway station

There’s a bus which connects Mestre to the airport, which was well sign-posted at the end of the station.  After a few minutes wait, it arrived and for the princely sum of €8 and around fifteen minutes, I found myself at a rather foggy airport.

Which is where I am now, in a coffee shop, waiting for check-in to open. So whatever you’re doing today, I wish you a wonderful Christmas!

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