Moving to Holland is not easy, but it's worth the effort. This blog tells the story of shifting from American life in Pittsburgh to Expat life in the Netherlands,
and all of our European adventures that follow.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Leavin' on that midnight train to Dresden

We finally had an opportunity to take a night train in Europe!

We were excited about the prospect of spending the holidays with the Taylors in Dresden, but trying to figure out how to get there from Rotterdam ended up being a bit tricky. As it turned out, the best option was to take a night train.

We decided to make the most of our night train trip and reserve a 2 person sleeper car for the trip there. It was very cool. We had our own private cabin with two bunk beds, a fold out table, and our own sink complete with towels and drinking water. We had a lot of fun. We watched a movie, ate some dinner, and then turned all of the lights off and laid in bed watching the snowy moonlit German countryside pass by our feet through the window. It was better than a movie.

Then, as they say, the plot thickened. The following events did in fact occur, and the names have not been changed to protect the innocent. During the night our train car lost electricity and heat due to the extreme cold and snow outside. We woke up around 5 AM to a freezing cold room, and were instructed to change trains in Berlin. Among the other passengers in the car were an older Polish couple (or Russian, we're not sure), who asked for our help in finding the way to the next train in Berlin. Then it got awkward. They wanted to find and use an elevator (to descend one floor) instead of the stairs, which required a 10 minute walk in the cold and snow to the very end of the outside platform. They didn't grasp the idea that we would simply walk through the small station and look for trains heading to the main station (Hauptbahnhof); instead the woman proceeded to shout the words "central station" in the face of all other people we would pass, each time she followed it up with "nobody speaks any English around here"; she did this even as we (Chad and I) received instructions for a person we spoke with while refraining from shouting. I died a thousand deaths inside in the 20 minutes that we spent with her. On the correct train to Hauptbahnhof the woman asked loudly on a train packed for Berlin's rush hour what our names were... she later used this information as the doors on the metro opened at our final stop she proclaimed "Suzy don't leave me!" The feeling of the dirty looks from the rest of the metro was oppressive.

Skipping forward, we were given consolation tickets on the next train to Dresden. Of course, the tickets were for car 126, which was not on the 8:20AM train; seriously, the train cars went consecutively from 120-125, then 127-130. After finding empty (unsold) seats, we were joined in a small 6 person train car by a wily old Russian couple. Important point: this is a different crazy couple. We helped store their luggage in racks above their seats, which was a problem since the bottoms of their bags were covered in snow and mud. We dozed off, and were awoken to the woman slowly tearing pages out of a magazine (because when you tear something SLOWLY it makes the sound more bearable, right? wrong). When she finally would finally remove a page she handed it to her husband, who would crumple that page up, and shove it under the elevated, dripping bags, and continuously poke at the pages (crinkling the entire time). They repeated this process exhaustively. We managed to sleep as they settled in, but were soon awoken (for a second time) to a strange cracking sound. The woman was cracking hard-boiled eggs on her handbag placed on her lap (not the most travel friendly of snacks for a confined space). This confused us, but seemed ridiculously funny, that is until we awoke (for a third time) to have the woman slouched over towards Chad, snoring and mouth-breathing (6 inches from Chad's face) spewing the wonderful aroma of eggyness throughout the car. Making it better was the wheezing sound associated with the woman's breathing pattern, each time making the next breath seem unlikely. In the end, it all worked, and we were only a 4-5 hours delayed getting into Dresden.
************End Scene************

For the way back, we opted for a 4 person couchette, but we ended up having the whole cabin to ourselves anyway. We arrived in Utrecht about an hour behind schedule, but at least there was no drama and we didn't loose power and heat.

All in all, we enjoyed our night train experience. It is extremely convenient to go to sleep in one place and wake up at your destination. It sort of felt like a trans-Atlantic flight, except you have a nice flat bed to sleep in, and you don't have to change time zones. We're glad we could add this to our European experience.


1 comment:

Brandi said...

Man, I want a boiled egg SO bad right now.