I was 25 and that is the last age that you get a discount on Eurorial train tickets so I bought one. Seeing as I was still considered a “youth”, I was free of all responsibilities and if I said or did dumb things it was okay. (I am sure someone else besides me thinks that statement is logical.) So that’s my excuse as to why this happened.
Summer was coming to end and school was about to start but I had three days left on my pass. Naturally, I wanted to use up the ticket to the max to get my money’s worth but I wasn’t about to spend extra money on top of what I already spent. My first thought (and only thought) in the planning process was: accommodation. Well, that costs money, so the most sensible solution is taking overnight trains so we don’t have to pay for hostels.
Most people have those refreshing weekend trips where they sleep on clouds and bathe in hot springs. With mine, 39/58 hours consisted of train travel
I am a light packer, so the jeans I was currently wearing would be enough for the 3 days… Ummm journey let’s call it that. I also packed two shirts so I’m not as disgusting as you are thinking right now. Originally, Copenhagen for the day was in the cards. You will only want to stay one day too when you see the prices. But when we arrived at Amsterdam Central the day trip dream that we had since yesterday was not feasible. Apparently, the night train was completely booked (for the cheap seats ie not reclining) so after 30 seconds of disappointment, we vouched for a shorter (only 12 hours!) overnight train to Dresden. Who is that? Well, it’s a city in Germany.
You have in your head these exotique, long-haul night trains. All glamorous and fancy. A travel story that transcends time. Not so much. When the ‘made in Czech’ train? (I question if we can even call it that) pulled into the station, disappointment spread like butter across my face. My fourth-grade instrument project- a guitar made of a Kleenex box and elastics was more of a resemblance. So we find our seats and despite the smell- as in someone definitely got murdered up in here- we are happy. We had an entire compartment to ourselves, we had a bag of snacks and a laptop loaded with movies!!
Moments later the ticket lady informs us were in the wrong seats.
This happened around the same time I realized my pants were dirty from an ice cream spillage from the day before. How many tragedies can one woman handle? Yet, there is more! We hadn’t seen our actual seats. There comes a time in every person’s life when they choose to sit upright for 12 hours in a six-person compartment with luggage crammed in between the non-existent space between their legs or not. We chose the first shitty option. Now at this point, we had no snacks, no laptop (calm down, it didn’t get stolen but surprise surprise no outlet in the compartment) and no space. There were a lot of no’s happening.
After an impressive hour of maintenance at the Dusseldorf Station, we decided we needed to stretch our legs. To our splendour we found an outlet in the bathroom. So we stood outside the tiny room while the computer charged.
We arrived in Dresden in the early hours of seven in the morning. This is what I recall of Dresden:
At the station, we went to the info desk to book a train to our next destination. The lady was confused as to why we just came from Amsterdam only to leave that day.. There was a choice of Austria, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Denmark, Italy and France. Since some were booked and other countries we had been to, we chose Vienna, Austria.
Then we walked into the city centre, I am sure it was nice but I can’t remember.
We got a free pen.
We took a two hour nap on some park benches.
Then we went to the station to watch a movie (we charged the laptop in the Burger King) while we waited for the train to Vienna. Oh goody! Another 10 hours on a cramped train to look forward to.
The only good thing about the second night train was that I was so sleep-deprived that I don’t remember much of it. This is what I recall of Vienna:
We took a train into the city centre, I am sure it was nice but I can’t remember.
We didn’t get anything for free.
We sat on a bench for a substantial period of time.
Then we went to the station to watch a movie while we waited for our train back to Amsterdam. I also attempted to sleep in this station but a police officer told me to sit up because I wasn’t allowed. Apparently, it showed a bad example for the station and if word got out, it would attract the homeless. Oh goody! Another 12 hours on a cramped train to look forward to.
A few days later, after I caught up on some sleep, I looked at our beautiful photos of all the sights we never fully saw.
Now, I am sure I have inspired you to book a night train but I tragically learned that the Amsterdam- Copenhagen service will no longer be running but don’t fret! Some other ones are!
Reserve or not? Well, it depends on how ballsy you are and whether it is mandatory or not. Seat 61 is a superb website to peruse for all your train travel needs. Is the 5 euro savings worth standing for 3 hours? Yes, should be your answer- if you choose not to reserve when you go on the train pick a seat with no destinations shown above on the panel. On ICE trains they will display the routes and generally, it means they’re reserved for that leg of the journey. So if you pick a seat with nothing or one that the leg of the train has already been done, you’re less likely to get booted.
Not all trains have chargers- keep that in mind.
Bring snacks and especially water since the onboard services for food are either non-existent or CHA CHING (pricey) and you can’t always drink from the taps.