Jay and Waddy say that one night on the sleeper from Prague to Warsaw has destroyed any illusion that train travel is romantic. I think it started with the shock at the limited space, even though we had taken one compartment per couple, which is a space normally occupied by three persons. Then there was the discovery that there was no air conditioning. The conductor is still rolling in laughter that I even asked the question.
It was all downhill from there, at least the way that Waddy tells the story. He wants to know who the heck catches a train at 2am in the morning. That was only one of the stops through the night, but it was not long after the immigration officer had woken him at 1am for passports, and then quibbled with him because we had misquoted Jay’s passport number on the electronic ticket.
Immigration Officer: “Your wife ‘s ticket is no good.”
Waddy: “But that is her passport, and that is her face.” (Pointing at Jay’s sleeping form).
Officer: “This ticket is no good.”
Waddy: “So what are you going to do?” (Fearful that the officer planned on putting Jasmina off at the next train stop).
The officer shrugged and walked off, her passport and ticket in hand.
Waddy angsted over whether he would ever see either again.
The officer came back fifteen minutes later.
. . .
“It’s okay,” he said gruffly.
End of story. Jay slept through the lot.
So it seems that the 2am stop was the one that disturbed Waddy the most. Although, it is all relative. Let’s be frank here – there weren’t many stops that he slept through!
We started off four carriages behind the engine, but after some deft uncoupling and shunting at some time in the wee hours, our carriage ended up right behind it.
And Waddy reckons the driver blew his horn all night. Which is just as well, because he reached some high speeds at times, and we were rocking and rolling in our cots. Then he would brake suddenly. Waddy reckons every time the driver did that, he, Waddy, slammed his head into the bulkhead.
I think Waddy is exaggerating the experience 🙂 . I didn’t get a huge amount of sleep, but I did get some, and there were only a couple of times I thought I would be thrown out of the top bunk and bounce off the opposite wall, before landing back on Bill. I never did.
Sleeping on a train bench with only a thin blanket in a cloth to serve as a mattress, speeding along a well-worn track, well, it’s a bit like being in a ship cot in a heavy sea. You just have to roll with it and do your best to sleep.
Then in the morning, there was a discreet knock at the compartment door, and in came our conductor with our morning coffee. Combined with a croissant, and followed by a wash in our personal basin, using the real hand towel and soap provided by the rail company, I felt ready to start the day.
The whole thing was a great experience. I don’t know what Waddy is whinging about 🙂
( Waddy wants me to write about how a whispering radio can disturb me, whereas I can sleep through the clanking and clanging of a rail journey. Maybe I will dedicate a post to noises that belong, and those that do not. All I will say at this point is – trains are meant to be noisy).
As we pulled into the station we could see Jay’s connection waiting on the platform, Professor Boguslaw Marek from the Catholic University in Lublin. Then, as we stepped down with our luggage, a young man with a placard stepped forward. Professor Bob had arranged a taxi for us. He had ordered a mini van because he imagined we must be travelling with at least two suitcases each. As if!
The laugh was on us when the hotel turned out to be a few blocks from the rail station. And what a hotel! The Warsaw Polonia was certainly a class or two – make that three – above where we have been staying. Waddy had done some good buying on this deal.
To go with the luxury of our hotel stay, Bob booked a table for us at a quality restaurant serving traditional Polish food. It has been a while since I have spoken about food on this blog. So here come the photos…………..