Whilst based in Vienna, we did two international train trips: the first to Slovakia, to Bratislava; and the second to Hungary, to Budapest.
Bratislava was a spur of the moment decision, as the previous day we saw cheap tickets advertised and decided to go. We were pleasantly surprised in that not only did we have a clear day, but in the beauty of Bratislava itself. We started with the palace and then wandered the cobble stone streets, explored the Christmas markets, ate gingerbread (and burgers with uncertain fillings), saw some beautiful buildings, had lunch and caught the train back to Vienna. If you are ever in that part of Europe, I'd recommend a day in Bratislava!
Our trip to Budapest was one that I've wanted to do for a while and was excited to have the change to do. We left Vienna in the dark, and returned in the dark (pitfall of traveling in winter!) but had a lovely, albeit freezing cold, day in Budapest. Our first dilemma was currency conversion, particularly since we've all only just adapted to the Euro! However, we overcame that and then decided that as Budapest is quite a big city and we only had the day to see it, that we would do a hop-on, hop-off bus tour (which included a trip on the Danube). We were very grateful for the bus with the steep hills and it was a good way to get a feel for the different districts of the city. The other advantage of the bus tour was that the audioguide explained some of the history which was fascinating. The highlight was the golden sunset on the river as we finished our day with the boat trip. One of our favourite moments of the boat trip was meeting an Italian tourist who became the self-appointed photographer of the ride, as he kept volunteering to take photos of all the passengers.
For Australians, the concept of being able to get on a train for a couple of hours and then be in a different country, with a different language and currency and culture, is mind-boggling but wonderful! What a remarkable world we live in! Travel truly is an education.