Live Out Your Romantic Movie Dreams With A Trip On This European Railway

Since 1995, "Before Sunrise" has inspired both travelers and movie lovers with its story of two people forming a connection through conversation over the course of one night in Vienna. The indie romantic drama is set mostly against the backdrop of the Austrian capital, where Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Céline (Julie Delpy) spend the night walking and talking. However, the first image onscreen after the opening credits is that of railroad tracks, seen from the perspective of a train rushing along. It's a Eurail train where the characters have their first chance encounter after Celine changes seats to escape the noise of a bickering German couple.

The Eurail Pass is a real, all-purpose ticket that covers most trains in 33 countries across Europe. It's aimed at non-residents who plan to visit multiple destinations, and there's also a version for European citizens called the Interrail Pass. In "Before Sunrise," Céline is French and coming from Budapest, Hungary, while Jesse is American and traveling from Madrid, Spain. She's headed back home to Paris, but on a whim, she decides to disembark with Jesse at his stop and continue their meet-cute in Vienna.

If you want to follow in Céline's footsteps from Budapest to Vienna, there's a real railway line, covered by the Eurail and Interrail Passes, where you can do that. It's never mentioned by name in "Before Sunrise" (and in fact, it didn't start operating until 2008), but the modern equivalent of her train would be the OBB Railjet.

Ride the OBB Railjet with a Eurail Pass

The Railjet is a high-speed train that links Austria with major cities in four surrounding countries. Budapest and Vienna are at one end of the Railjet's network, and they might just be the first leg of your journey. From Vienna, you can head across the border to the Czech Republic's vibrant capital, Prague, or visit four more of the biggest cities in Austria: Graz, Villach, Salzburg, and Innsbruck. From Salzburg — where Mozart was born and where "The Sound of Music" was filmed — you can then continue onward to Munich, Germany, or Zurich, Switzerland.

To ride the Railjet, you don't need a Eurail Pass like Jesse's in "Before Sunrise," but it does open up the possibility of visiting even more places. For many high-speed Eurail trains and every night train, you'll still need to reserve a seat, for which you might have to pay an additional fee. However, the pass allows for some flexibility if you decide spur-of-the-moment to change your itinerary, the way Céline does.

The more places you travel, the more people you meet, the more chances you might have of making a connection with someone. If the train is fresh out of beautiful strangers, or you're already with the love of your life but they're fast asleep, you can always keep yourself entertained with free movies aboard the Railjet. Or you can use the free Wi-Fi to research the next romantic, Old-World destination you'll be visiting.

The 'Before Sunrise' tour of Vienna

If there's one definite stop "Before Sunrise" fans should make on the Railjet, it's Vienna. In the movie, Budapest is mentioned in dialogue, but never shown. Vienna, however, is arguably the third main character, since it accompanies Céline and Jesse in every shot of their one-night walking tour. At the end, the movie also shows postcard-like views of the landmarks they surveyed, like the Albertina museum and the Cemetery of the Nameless.

Today, you can still visit many of those places, including the steps of the Maria am Gestade church, and Zollamtssteg, the green footbridge where Céline and Jesse are invited to a nonsensical play about a cow. Westbahnhof, the station where they first get off the train, has since ceded its international routes to the newer Railjet station, Hauptbahnhof. Yet you can still ride the tram through Vienna and walk its cobblestone streets, as they do.

Alt & Neu, the vinyl record store where Céline and Jesse listen to the Kath Bloom song "Come Here," is still in business. Ditto for The Prater, the amusement park where they share their first kiss on a Ferris wheel overlooking the Danube River (subject of the famous Johann Strauss waltz). The Arena includes the bar where they play pinball. The Roxy is the club where Jesse convinces the bartender to give him a bottle of red wine, with promises to mail the money later. That ploy probably doesn't work anymore, even for star-crossed lovers in Vienna.