I always liked riding overnight trains when I was traveling in Europe.  It was a way to save time since I could crash out on the train and sleep in transit.  It was neat to wake up in a different city.  It also saved on the cost of lodging for that night.


The ideal would be a train ride around 8 to 11 hours long.  You want to leave in the late evening and arrive in the morning.  You want to arrive early enough to still get breakfast but late enough not to wait too long before getting into your hotel.


I employed this strategy on a trip to Eastern Europe.  I was traveling with a friend and we needed to get from Prague to Krakow.  There was an overnight train scheduled so everything was falling into place.


Of course, this ended up being a train ride from Hell.  This was one of those trains that kept stopping for no known reason and crawled along at a painful, sloth-like pace.  We had a compartment to ourselves and were trying to sleep along three seats.  It was a bumpy ride and I kept waking up.  I kept thinking, maybe it’ll be better when we get to the border.  I’d lay back down to try to get some more fractured sleep.


This kept going on and on.  “Just how big is the Czech Republic?”  It’s taking forever to reach the mythic land of Poland.  You have mythic places like Atlantis and Shangra-La.  Suddenly Poland was becoming one of them.  I mean at some point, the Czech Republic has to end and Poland has to begin.  It’s one of the basic laws of the universe.  It shouldn’t take 18 hours to get out of a country slightly larger than Trenton.  I think the Czech railroad system aspire to be the SEPTA of the European rail systems.


Finally reaching the border provided minimal relief. That seemed to take forever.  I don’t know what was taking so long.  The custom agent on the train didn’t even look at our passports.  He opened up the compartment and questioned; “Polski?”


“Americano.” I answered.  I have no idea why I thought I should make it Italian when talking to a Polish customs agent.  We both had our passports in our hands.  He just shut the door to the compartment.


We could have had pictures of Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck on our passports.  He would have never known. 


We finally did arrive in Krakow.  I was frayed frazzled when we arrived.  It felt surreal actually stepping off the train at our desired destination.  I felt like I just endured Dante’s Hell or maybe the labors of Hercules.  I was shaken but unbroken.  We made it.  In the end, I suppose that’s all that really matters.






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