Monday, 31 January 2011

Train travel terror

So the past 20 hours have left me feeling a little less approving of trains. My initial appraisal in my previous entry should now be slightly altered in terms of positivity. Here I was ready for a fairly quick journey to Munich for what I was prepping myself up for a 2 and a half hour wait in Munich station ready for our sleeper train to Rome. Dreading the wait but believing we took the right decision if any delays were to occur I didn't mind the prolonged stops.

So the train chugged along and after some time the sign changed and it no longer said munich... Worry began to settle in a nearby passenger translated that this train was now not going to munich and we had to change over at the next station. By this time everything was still fine. Nothing to it right? Just hop on the train to Munich which had conveniently just arrived and be there with still plenty of time to spare. WRONG!

This train to Munich was the slowest train ever!!! This now counts as one of the most stressful times in my life. There we were looking anxiously at the screen watching station names pass by with no near sign of Munich. I glanced at my watch every five minutes it was still ok, plenty of time to catch the next train. Stop after stop the clock kept on ticking by. We soon learnt this train was not set to arrive in Munich until 8.55pm. The panic set in. My heart began to quicken and the nail biting went full speed (if only the train was going as fast). Our night train was leaving at 9.02pm.

As I sat there thinking through all the possibilities we rallied together believing five minutes was enough to run for the train. What felt like a lifetime the screen flashed up yet another stop, this wasn't it... 8.55pm... What was going on with this train. We take a closer look at the german screen and we gather that it was running late. Our night train was going to depart in one minute. I stood and ran through contingency plans. Everything was crumbling down, I was beginning to feel sick. What if we were stranded in the station for a night! The optimistic side (which was very small) of my brain prayed the night train to Rome was delayed.

We opened the doors and ran like our lives depended on it just in case it had not left. Just my luck, of course it was long gone.
I suddenly felt a yearning for comfort, I wanted to be anywhere but there in that station.

As we approached the service lady all I wanted was them to issue us a new free ticket for tomorrows night train as we were previously informed there was no other. Something at the time I swear could have been granted miracle status she said there was one leaving at 11.40pm! I did not care if there was anything else all I heard was "there is a train tonight" TONIGHT! All panic was lifted. I cared nothing for the change overs through the wee hours of the morning all I wanted was to get to Rome. There was no fuss and so we sat already exhausted but glad for the outcome all things considered.
Once again a Starbucks gave us warmth and a little regaining of sanity.

The next train journey to our first stop - Salzburg was pleasant enough. A carriage all to ourselves and our magazines to relax with; all was well. An hour and a half later we were dropped into a rather deserted looking station. We studied the small departure screen and yet again the panic was creeping up. Our train number wasn't there and there was no sign of our next destination. As Hannah went off to find anyone I sat there guarding our luggage going through the motions: here we were in a quiet station at 1 in the morning, was I doomed to spend the night? She came back, no luck.

Finally a man who looked like some sort of train authority was in sight! He informed us where to go and we were on our way. All the weight had been lifted once we stepped foot on that train. We would be arriving in Rome tomorrow, all was once again well. We asked the ticket inspector whether there was any spare sleepers as we had previously paid for them in the initial train. There was none so we had to settle for a carriage. However we realised the seats converted to beds and no one else was in our cabin, this was a very welcome find indeed.

So here I am after what seems like the longest 36 hours of my life in the famous city of Rome, completely exhausted and filthy dirty but so very very relieved to be here.

Trains - not so convenient after all!

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