Eurail Day 9: Innsbruck to Salzburg, and Free/cheap activities to do on the road
Today is a travel day for me, heading from Innsbruck to Salzburg! THE LAND OF THE SOUND OF MUSIC, PEOPLE! The hills will soon be alive with the sound of Chrissy.
When you’re travelling on a budget, or living off of €15 a day like me, you immediately seek out all the activities you can do that don’t cost a thing, or at least cost very little! We all want to do the guided tours or this hop-on-hop-off buses, but they also cost a pretty penny. Here’s how to keep yourself amused in every city you hit without skimping on culture, history, and fun.
Of course you knew I was going to say that! As most of you have guessed by now, I am a huge fan and proponent of street art. Why pay the entry fee to the Museum of Modern Art when the best museum can be found on your street, and for free! Street art, because it isn’t subject to curation (and therefore a degree of censorship), asks questions, provokes thought, and takes the viewer on an emotional journey. And also, it’s pretty! You have an ephemeral experience and you connect with other members of the community without ever having met them! I like street art because Its feels half like a scavenger hunt, and half like I’m in on a joke that only a few people know about! If you spend the day hunting for graffiti, I guarantee you will never be bored, and will probably finish off elated!
Sometimes walking is too slow, and taking the subway or a taxi is too fast (or too expensive). That’s where the bike comes in. For a few euros a day, you can rent a bike from either a shop or the more popular city-sponsored bike sharing programs aka Bixi that have popped up in cities all over the world. You get to see and explore the city with the wind in your hair, the sun on your face, and you will even burn off they chocolate bar you bought at the train station. Yay exercise! Afraid of getting lost on the bike? Don’t buy a map, just print off a google map at the nearest Internet cafe… Want to know what it is you’re looking at as you cycle by? Don’t buy a Lonely Planet, just print off the Wiki Travel article for the corresponding town!
City buses are cheaper than the hop-on-hop-off buses and you get the exact same views. Most cities will sell you a day pass so you could basically hop on and hop off as you please. And follow my above advice about information and maps to keep your mind out the window instead of on guessing.
Outdoor markets and festivals and art crawls
Most cities I’ve ever been love their markets and festivals and art crawls which are free and open to the public. I didn’t have to pay to visit the Christkindlmarkt in Innsbruck, nor the Zurich street parade, nor the Notting Hill Carnival in London, nor La Tomatina in Bunol, Spain! Try to visit cities when they are celebrating something specific to that town. Like Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, or Diwali in India, or the vegetarian festival in Thailand. The streets become free parties for merriment and dancing!
Do things that begin with each letter of the alphabet
Here’s a great idea that another traveller told me about when I met her in Cambodia. Every day, she would try to do at least one thing that corresponded with each letter the alphabet! Try it and see if you can get through the alphabet in one day!
Shopping is always a huge tourist draw but there’s no obligation to spend money! You can window shop, try on clothes, and even some shops like department stores offer free makeovers at their cosmetics counter. Get your retail therapy without the retail price.
At the chocolate market in Padua, they were giving away free samples! Of chocolate! Many gelato shops will let you taste for free, the same goes for fruit and vegetable stands. Can’t find a market, try the local Starbucks. They always have someone standing outside with a tray full of free samples.
You’ve seen my pictures by now of me planking all over ancient ruins in Thailand and Cambodia, so you know how fun it is. All you need is your camera and a good sense of humour. Walk around and try to plank on as many monuments as you can! It beats posing like everyone else, and it makes for a better Facebook album!
Make travel videos
If your camera has a video option (and I’m sure it does), take a cue from your favourite film directors and make your own movie! Put on your best National-Geogeaphic-Discovery-channel narator voice, and film everything you see and do in a city. When you get home, whip out iMovie or windows movie maker, edit it all together with a fun song, and voila, you are giving Spielberg a run for his money. I love making travel videos, and you can see from my Youtube. And Youtube travel videos are my favourite pastime, remember “Where the Hell Is Matt?” There’s no reason why you can’t dance your way across Europe. Make sure you film it and post it to youtube!
Sandeman’s new Europe walking tour
In several locations across Europe, there are Free walking tours. Yes, FREE. I’ve seen them in London, Amsterdam, Berlin, and I’m sure they are in more cities. You get a great historical and cultural tour of the city, and you your blood flowing through your legs. Full disclosure -I was once offered a job with them years ago when I lived in London. I didn’t end up taking it because I got another job, but I can confirm that, yes, the tour guides are not paid a salary, they do all the research themselves, and they function off of the tips you may or may not give them after the tour. You are not obligated to tip, but PLEASE TIP THEM. Whatever you can afford.
Rush tickets for theatres and operas
I am a huge theatre nut, and if I don’t see a play at least every two weeks, I start to get the shakes. However, a lot of people don’t go to the theatre or opera anymore because they find the tickets too expensive and the movies are cheaper. WRONG. Almost every single theatre or opera has a discounted ticket option. Call them ahead of time and see if you can either get:
A) Rush tickets. When a play hasn’t been sold out, or some people couldn’t use the tickets they bought, the theatre will want to sell the extra tickets at a discounted price to ensure capacity. They usually release these tickets about 15 minutes before show time on a first come first serve basis. So if you can remain flexible and wait in a rush line for a few minutes, you can get primo seats for a fraction of what the other patrons paid. Suckers!
B) PWYC tickets. PWYC stands for Pay What You Can, and many theatres will make at least one performance during the week at PWYC performance (in my experience, usually the Sunday matinees). So you can drop in whatever loose change you have in your pocket and see some great shows! Of course, I suggest paying at least €5 for PWYC (actors need to eat!) but really whatever you can ford is great!
See if your Couchsurfing host can cook for you one night
If they offer and are so generous, dont turn it down! Free homecooked meal! Make sure you do the dishes afterwards, and offer to buy them a beer at the pub later.
Now that your day is packed full of free and cheap activities to do, you have no excuse but to make yourself rather merry. Go, grasshopper. Prosper.
Here’s how I spent my money today!