Day One: Arrival in Salzburg - Floods And Disaster Warnings
One would think that a simple 2 1|2 hour train ride from Vienna to Salzburg would be fairly uneventful. And we had seen the wet weather reports. We also knew we only had about 3 days of sunshine during our prior week in Vienna, so of course we knew that it had been raining a lot in Salzburg too.
But record-breaking floods? Emergency evacuations? Three deaths reported in Salzburg due to flooding on the very day we were heading straight for it? No, admittedly, we were not prepared for that.
My heart started to sink a bit as I saw the first images of flooded fields and tunnels as our train raced towards Salzburg.
This will be fun.
ACHTUNG! (I hate it when any loudspeaker announces that word - the word itself sounds scary enough nevermind the bad news that always follows)
DUE TO ZE EXTREME WEATHZA CONDITIONS DIS TRAIN VILL NOT REACH ITS SCHEDULED DESTINATION TO SALZBURG. EVERYVON MUST GET OFF ZE TRAIN AND TAKE A BUS FROM ATTNANG PUCHHEIM TO SALZBURG.
Okay, 5 pieces of luggage, 4 backpacks and 2 kids onto a bus with flooded roads. We can do this.
10 minutes later:
ACHTUNG! VE VILL NO LONGER NEED TO TAKE ZE BUS FROM ATTNANG PUCHEIM, DISREGARD ZE PREVIOUS ANNOUNCEMENT.
Yay! Not sure why, but who cares?
Another 10 minutes later:
ACHTUNG! VE VILL BE STOPPING ZE TRAIN IN ATTANG PUCHEIM VHERE YOU VILL HAVE TO DISEMBARK ZIS TRAIN. THERE, VE VILL HAVE ANOTHER TRAIN VAITING FOR YOU TO BRING YOU TO SALZBURG.
Oh great. Unload everything after all. And why get off a train to Salzburg just to catch a different train to Salzburg? Whatever!
We stop in Attang Puchhaim and unload 5 large pieces of luggage, 4 backpacks and 2 kids. It's cold. It's raining. We huddle together with our luggage on the platform and vait (I mean wait) for the other train to arrive and bring us to Salzburg.
No more announcements. No more explanations. We just wait. The train we were on leaves. No other train comes. 10 minutes. 20 minutes. 30 minutes. 45 minutes. 1 hour. We are freezing and soaked by now.
We hear someone else from our abandoned train talk about getting on another train that is scheduled to stop in Salzburg. It's with a different train company and we'll have to pay for an additional ticket, but at this point this plan seems completely worth it. We climb aboard a train headed towards Bregenz. There are no seats together - so we split up. Finally, we are back on our way.
Oh lord no.
EVERYVON MUST DISEMBARK DIS TRAIN IN SALZBURG. IF YOU ARE TRAVELING PAST SALZBURG YOU MUST GET OFF ZE TRAIN AND VAIT FOR FURTHER INSTRUCTIONS.
Thank God! That's not us. We will actually make it to Salzburg! Yay!
We get off at the Salzburg train station and it is packed full of stranded travelers. It is pouring rain. I tell the kids that all we have to do now is get a taxi to our hotel where we can warm up, dry off and get something to eat. Then I see the mob of people trying to get a taxi. Normally, most Austrians are pretty proper about standing in lines to get a taxi. But this was clearly an every-man-for-yourself moment. We waited for at least another 30 minutes trying desperating to get a taxi but it was impossible. We knew we had to walk. At least one kid cried the whole way. Maybe both. It's all a bit of a blur now.
Never have I seen the Salzach river in Salzburg so high. It's also not normally anything like this dirty muddy color. The current was so fast it almost looked like rapids. The "old town" area of central Salzburg was closed off to all incoming traffic. All the bridges were barricated.
"Mommy?" asks a kid, "does this mean we don't get to do the Salzach river boat ride we had planned tonight?" No, unless we really want to make this trip exciting by being swept away, I thought.
We finally arrived at our hotel soaked to the bone and freezing cold. It took us twice as long to get here as planned but we were here!
We checked in and went up to our rooms. We have adjoining rooms, a huge bath, and nice comfy beds with down comforters.
The Salzburg tourism office was extremely kind and thoughtful. The kids were thrilled to find candy on their pillows and goody bags with lots of tourism brochures, some great boooks about Salzburg and even some umbrellas - just in case we need them.