Venice to Munich by train

This item appears on page 39 of the August 2009 issue.

I was a nervous wreck about making it to each train. I left Venice on May 8, 2009, and I HAD to be in Munich by May 15.

Fortunately, two of my hotels en route were within a block and a half of the local station, and the one in Vicenza was only a 7-euro taxi ride away. I ended up doing “dry runs” (without luggage) in each location, which eased my mind a bit. On the dry runs, I figured out where all the elevators were so I didn’t have to deal with the stairs under the tracks for the different platforms.

The Rail Europe tickets (booked through arrived in good time but without the Venice Santa Lucia-Mestre portion. So I bought a separate ticket at the station ahead of time, which was only €1. That one was second class; the rest were first.

The single car delegated for first class on each train was much less crowded and more spacious, but the main boon was that there was a place for my suitcase between the backs of the seats, so I didn’t have to depend on someone to heft it up above for me. I’m 74, and everyone was very nice in helping me with my heavy, 22-inch suitcase both on and off the train. The train steps were VERY steep and narrow.

For the Vicenza-Bolzano leg, I had to change in Verona. I made sure I chose a connection with time to spare, in this case, 29 minutes. It was a piece of cake. All the trains left and arrived on time, and there were no strikes while I was there.

My ticket for the Bolzano-Munich train was purchased through the German Rail company, DB Bahn ( It arrived (from Germany) with no reserved seat or travel information. Finally, after several e-mails, I got them to send an itinerary, since the ticket itself was all in German.

(Someone with the company thought I hadn’t received a ticket at all and sent another that arrived after I left. When I received my credit card statement, I hadn’t been charged twice, anyway, except for postage. I think I confused the issue by sending too many e-mails.)

To order the DB Bahn tickets, I first tried to use Rail Europe, but they offered no desirable route, so I called Rick Steves’ office (425/771-8303, and they directed me to the DB Bahn site.

Heading from Bolzano to Munich, until Innsbruck there were only four people in the whole first-class car! It was lovely not to have someone sitting across from me and to have lots of stretching room. And for the first time, I didn’t have to sit backward, which I hate.

At Brennero, the engines were changed for the trip through Brenner Pass. I watched the scenery go by for the entire four hours. The view of Innsbruck was gorgeous. What a setting it has! The last time I saw it was 55 years ago.

The other train/tram I took was a one-day trip from Bolzano to Merano, about 45 minutes each way. This is a must, if you should ever go to Bolzano (which I chose to do in order to break up the 6-hour trip to Munich). It runs frequently, both to and from.

The Rail Europe tickets cost a total of $88 (Venice Mestre-Vicenza, $18; Vicenza-Verona Porta Nuova, $25; Verona-Bolzano Bozen, $27, and shipping, $18). The prices made no sense; the first two trains were short hops while the third took two hours. The online service answered questions and mailed tickets promptly, though.

The DB Bahn ticket cost €93 (near $124) plus €3.50 postage. When I was at the Bolzano station, I inquired as to the price of a one-way first-class ticket to Munich; it was €75 ($101). I could have easily bought this ticket in person at the station. Next time, I won’t go through the headache of buying a ticket through DB Bahn ahead of time.

Still, since there was a chance of a train running full and my missing my deadline in Munich, I guess by buying the prereserved seats I bought peace of mind.

Seattle, WA