Date: Sat, 26 Aug 1995 13:08:06 +0200
From: (Espen S. Ore)
Subject: Travel in Austria I

I knew that to get to Kirchberg am Wechsel from Vienna I had to take a train from the Vienna Suedbahnhof to Gloggnitz. I got up early, paid for my room and asked at the hotel if they could order a taxi for me to the Suedbahnhof.

The taxi arrived and tired as I was I told the driver to go to the Westbahnhof. The driver did as he was told, and I slowly realised what had happened when we stopped outside the Westbahnhof. I am a cowardly person who likes to hide the stupid things I do, so I just paid the driver and decided to test the subway system in Vienna. This is pretty good and with only one transfer I and my heavy luggage (clothing, Powerbook, CD-ROM-player, modem etc.) got to the correct Bahnhof.

I bought a ticket to Gloggnitz and asked when a train would be leaving and from which platform. I got a reply which contained a lot of numbers. It was not absolutely clear to me which were platform numbers and which referred to the time, but I got the idea that I only had a minute or so before the train left. I ran and found what turned out to be the correct platform just as the train left.

There where some railway people left on the platform, and I asked them when and where I would find the next train to Gloggnitz. Again a mixture of numbers. It must be mentioned that Gloggnitz is such a small place that it would not be listed on the train or on time tables. I found what I believed was the right platform, but there was only a train marked "Eilzug" and "Muerzzuschlag". In my confusion I thought that "Muerzzuschlag" was a funny Austrian term for an extra ticket that had to be bought for the privilege of travelling on an "Eilzug". In the end it turned out that Muerzzuschlag is a town south of Gloggnitz.


Date: Sat, 26 Aug 1995 13:08:07 +0200
From: (Espen S. Ore)
Subject: Travel in Austria II

Getting money can be interesting. I had planned to pay my room in Kirchberg with a Visa card. The conference people had no problems with accepting Visa for everything you might want from the conference proceedings to a bus tour, but at our Gasthof they preferred not to accept Visa (or any other card).

There is a bank in Kirchberg where they issue Visa cards, and where there is an ATM. This ATM, however, will only accept a special kind of local bank cards, and the bank, even if it issues Visa cards, will not let you withdraw cash with them. But according to the bank people there would be ATMs that accepted Visa cards in Aspang, about 10 miles from Kirchberg. One of the people in the conference secretariat drove us there, and we saw the famous ATMs. We also tried them, and discovered that the whole bank network in this part of Austria had crashed so none of the ATMs in Aspang worked.

The next day we tried again. The ATMs worked! There was a snag, however. Independent of the limit that might be placed on the card by the issuer, the Austrian bank network automatically imposed a limit of 2,500.- Schilling withdrawal for any given day (about 250 US dollars).

We didn't want to make a daily pilgrimage to the ATMs in Aspang, so I went into a bank where they claimed to exchange money and asked if they could exchange some Norwegian banknotes I had. This led to a panic. I had four of the five available persons in the bank running between bookshelves, looking into cupboards etc. I *think* that they were looking for a booklet with samples of foreign money. Anyway, they didn't find what they were looking for, and after ten minutes I was told that there could be no money exchange in that bank that day.