“Ironic that we are standing on an overcrowded train car on our way to Krakow.” said my brother. We were on our way to visit Aushwitz the concentration camp.
We opened the window and let the sun and cool wind hit our faces. We stuck our head out the window and listened to the click clack of the train cars as we slowly rolled down the track.
The trains in Eastern Europe our a fun way to bounce around
Due to their lack of a strong financial economy they still have the old train stations and train cars. Just like the old movies. You know the ones where the beautiful girl is leaving on the train for some distant country and the hero hates to see her leave.
He chases after her and the train as they steadily pull away and out of sight. He will never know what might have been, if only he told her how he felt. My experience wasnt quite that romantic, but a lot of fun none the less.riding a train in Romania
The trains platforms were built extremely low compared to the train cars, so you literally have to climb up into the train. The cars themselves are very old as well, maybe from the 50s.
The ticket companies always oversell the tickets so the cars are always full.
Typically its standing room only. You have to be quick if you want a seat in one of the cabins. Otherwise you are standing in the small hallway to the side, carefully safeguarding your luggage.
The characters you meet on these trains are amazing as well. They want to practice their English and because you stand out like a sore thumb, they are naturally curious about you. If you are open to it, you can have some great conversations. Most of the time you dont have to start them.
The differences from the modern European trains made this ride much more interesting and enjoyable. If you are traveling anywhere in Eastern Europe take a train ride. The journey to your destination is half the story.
Riding the Rails in Eastern Europe Part II
I decided to post about another story about riding a train in Eastern Europe. It could have turned out to be very bad, but it ended up being very good. The Romanians and their kindness saved my butt.
My brother and I were on a train bound for Romania. We were crossing the border from Ukraine and had a ticket to a staion just across the Romanian border. We noticed that we were in the middle of nowhere. There were only small towns around.
The stations didnt have ticket machines or staff to supply tickets. There were no ATMs, shops or supermarkets. The only currency we had was a little Ukranian gryvna.
We would be stranded in the middle of nowhere with no way to get out and no knowledge of the train schedule.
We decided to risk it and stay on the train until we saw a city or at the very least bigger town. The train staff noticed we didnt get off at the last stop and she came, got us, and told us we had to get off at the next stop. So now we were stuck at a station in the middle of nowhere in northern Romania.
We got off and walked into the station looking for help or a train schedule. There was nothing. Outside the station just small homes and local. I found someone and tried English asking about the next train and how to buy a ticket. He couldnt understand. So in the station there was a dilapidated waiting room. We brought our bags into there and I sat there reading. My brother went off in search of hope.
He had been talking to the owners of a nearby restaurant and they could help us out. My brother went by car to this mans house to talk to his daughter who could speak English. He explained to her our situation. She advised us to be careful of our bags and at ATMs. People will steal from you if you take your eye off them for a minute. Then he returned to me saying that we should go wait at this small restaurant where he met her parents.
We carried our bags to their small restaurant near the station and in broken English explained to them our situation. They fed us, gave us coffee and soda, and helped us find our way to our destination on the map. The lady explained everything to us and gave us sightseeing advice, even gave us money to buy our train ticket. We were blown away by their generosity.
Our train finally arrived and saying goodbye I tried giving her some Ukrainian coins which was all we had, but she wouldnt have them. We were there a total of 5 hours until the next train, but because of this nice Romanian family the hours were well spent learning about Romanian kindness.