Night trains are scary and relaxing at the same time. Why? Because the demons wake up at night. On the other hand, there's no better lullaby for me than a regular thud of train's wheels. Tudum tudum. Tudum tudum. Tudum tudum. The mere thought of the sound makes me dizzy.
Waiting for the train
After the full day of walking through Vienna, we went to the train station quite early - we still had about three hours to the train departure. We've decided to go for the dinner to one of the restaurants - Cohen's smartfood (I'd love to open a restaurant like that on one of Polish train stations). They had vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free options in their menu and excellent, fresh and large portions that were relatively cheap. Tomek took Sabich (that is on the photo below): a dish with hummus, falafel, egg and veggies and I went for the Shawarma plate with chicken, salad and tahini sauce. I have to admit that I felt full and happy after such a dinner.
Sabich from Cohen's superfood restaurant at Vienna Hauptbanhoff.
Night train to Zurich
We were a bit worried because the way from Vienna to Zurich by night takes 11 hours and for the first time, we didn't book beds in the sleeping compartment. Luckily, our fears were unjustified. We could arrange the seats in the way they've created three long, quite comfy beds.
But obviously, there were cons as well - we couldn't open the window so we lacked fresh air as the air-conditioner didn't work. When we left the doors open, the noise was too loud to sleep. And I've just lost my sleeping mask and ear plugs on the night bus two nights earlier.
Sometime between two and four AM a girl, who was travelling to Barcelona, joined us. Her backpack was huge; I think it was even bigger than the one Tomek has. When the conductor came in, she was discussing with him for quite a while. From what I understood, the girl bought a Inter Rail pass at the office in Vienna, but she didn't receive a "cover" that was necessary abroad. She had no idea she needed that, so after a long talk, the conductor said that he'd consult a colleague and come back. He never did, and I hope she got to Barcelona without a problem as she had less than ten minutes to change the train.
Night in the train can be pretty exhausting.
We're in Schengen, but it doesn't mean there aren't border controls. Soon after the conductor left, the big guys in black clothes went into the train, randomly (or maybe not) checking people's passports and asking them about their purpose of crossing the border. They've only looked at us, directing the flashlight straight into our eyes and left, without question.
Breakfast in the park in Zurich.
Night Train to Lisbon
We went to Lisbon from San Sebastian, this time we reserved beds because there was a promotion for the sleeping cars, making them cheaper than regular ones.
We weren't in the same compartment, as there were separate ones for men and women but our "rooms" were next to each other. To get to our compartment, we had to cross the entire car, go through the rubber lock and then we were in the car without the doors. The "hallway" was so narrow that Tomek had to push me because I couldn't get through with my sleeping mat attached.
It was hot, the air was stuffy. The heaters in the train were on, although it was hot outside. Again, we couldn't open the windows.
The conductor came around 7 PM to check the tickets - this time we didn't have the right ones. The mobile version was enough for Spanish part of the way, but not for the Portuguese. Luckily, we had a Portuguese staff, so Tomek has heard a lecture, but we haven't suffered any consequences. The beds weren't ready, they were screwed to the wall and the conductor said that he would come back around 9 to open them. Two hours later he came with a large screwdriver in his hand and prepped the beds.
As I was alone in the compartment until 1 AM, I locked myself there. But even though I did, I still slept with my pepper spray under the pillow. I'm from the worst town in Poland; my imagination is quite powerful.
This pink one is my pepper spray. And that's everything that I found in my pocket before doing laundry.
There was a massive drawback, though. The toilet was old and dirty and the lock didn't work. Twice I was OK, but for the third time, when I was standing with the shewee in my hand, with my ass exposed (I still haven't figured out how to use it with my clothes on), a woman pulled the door wide open, without any consideration. What could I do? I've reached the handle and closed the doors. When I left, the woman was standing with his back towards me, the face towards the window. I told her that the toilet is free now and we both started to laugh.
I was happy to discover that there is a shelf behind the mirror and that contains a toothbrush, small bottle of water, sponge ear plugs, tiny toothpaste and soap. Unfortunately, I found out quite late. I tried to open it earlier but didn't manage.
Practical advice for sleeping in the train
- Get something comfortable to sleep, like leggings and T-shirt that wicks moisture away. Take the bra off. After my first sleep in the night train where I had my trousers on and woke up boiling and sore in the waist, I've prepared myself better for the next time.
- Have an eyemask and earplugs if you're sensitive to sounds and light.
- Have the precious things close to you. Your mobile, wallet and passport should be in the safe place, like in the hidden pocket or under your pillow.
- Have a large bottle of water. When travelling from San Sebastian to Lisbon, I drank my 300ml bottle of water, and then I drank the small bottle I found in the train. Still, I had a headache in the morning from dehydration. Or just get a bottle with a carbon filter so that you can fill it everywhere.
- Get the wet wipes. If there's no shower and you have your check-in in the afternoon, they will refresh you and get rid of bad smell.
- Have a change of clothes handy. There's nothing worse than walking all day in the clothes that you wore for the entire night in the dirty and smelling train.
- For women: shewee. It's a useful tool, especially in dirty places like train toilets. You don't have to be afraid that you will accidently touch something there and get an infection.
- You can use miswak or liquorice root for toothbrushing when the water in the train is not drinkable. You can also chew them to refresh.
Miswak. That little, horseradish tasting thing can wash your teeth
Do you like travelling by train? How do you feel about the night trains? Did you enjoy the reading? Like or comment or do both! And if you found my post useful, don't hesitate to share on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. I appreciate every little gesture!
As you can see, I can sleep everywhere. :)
Free "gadgets" in a train to Lisbon.
Shewee with a discreet case