Tag Archives: train

Bratislava

Friday, 26 August 2011

“All that is fine,” you may say, “Fascinating, even. Who wouldn’t want to see the fat rear end of a freighter passing underneath a bridge from the window of a train? That’s always been my idea of a good time. But go back a little bit. What did the Bratislava train stationlook like??”

Here you go:

Bratislava-TrainStation

The Bratislava train station.

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Train to Paris

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Here’s a shot of what Rotterdam looks like:

Amsterdam-Paris-Rotterdam

What Rotterdam looks like.

Don’t worry. The city is much bigger than this photo might imply.

Wondering what Harry Potter ads look like in French? I thought you might, and here you go:

Amsterdam-Paris-ad

“Épique et captivant”

See? I’m awesome like that.

I was actually wondering how they get all those train cars to stick together. Apparently this is where they apply the glue:

Amsterdam-Paris-train

Smear it here.

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Malaga

Sunday, 31 July 2011

I’m in Malaga now, having taken a superfast bullet train from Barcelona this afternoon. No, the train isn’t as fast as a superfast bullet, only as fast as a normal bullet, if you must know. But that’s still pretty fast. In fact they displayed the current speed at the front of the car; here we are going nearly 300 km/hour, or just shy of 200 mph:

Barcelona-Malaga-Train1

And I didn’t even break a sweat.

And here’s what that looks like out the window:

Barcelona-Malaga-Train2

Zoom.

Superfast!

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France

Saturday, 30 July 2011

“But Ryan,” you may say, “I know you went to Paris, and that’s nice. But what is the rest of France like?”

Don’t worry; I’ve got that covered. I took a photo from the Paris – Barcelona train. This is what it looks like:

Paris-Barcelona-Train1

From the train

Boom. There it is. By the way, this is the Barcelona Franca train station:

Paris-Barcelona-Train2

A train station

Franca is known and renowned for the grace of its architecture and the acumen of its astrophysicists.

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Train

Friday, 22 July 2011

A few shots from the train between Vienna and Krakow.

Vienna-Krakow-Train1

A better way to drive

Vienna-Krakow-Train2

A better way to drive

This is while we were in station in Vienna. Drivers were loading automobiles into the train “next door” and it was so fun to watch. Top layer or bottom – they’d drive them all the way up towards the front, one by one! These weren’t vehicles for sale, by the way – looked like personal vehicles to me.

On the train, an overnighter, I met a fellow Aussie traveler and had a great (but brief) chat with him before we went to bed in our cabin of six. We talked about Aussie politics and travel, mostly. He had glowing things to say about the rural Croatian and Italian coast. A few shots from the windows, looking out at the early-morning Polish countryside:

Vienna-Krakow-Train3

A lovely view

Vienna-Krakow-Train4

A lovely view

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The Train

Saturday, 9 July 2011

So, let me tell you about the train ride to Budapest.

It was an overnight train, and I was told that I should take the Ister car, which is a first-class sleeper. My Eurail pass already entitles me to ten days of first-class train travel, but for a sleeping berth instead of a seat, you still have to pay extra. In this case, it was about $40 USD, which was a little high on my pay scale. But the accommodations are deluxe. There’s air-conditioning. A sink/wash-basin with a mirror and bottled water already waiting for you. More comfortable beds, and fewer of them – only 2/3 per compartment. Plugs for your electrical appliances. Coat hangers.

But here’s the thing: I don’t really care about any of that stuff. I don’t mind sleeping with five other people – in the hostels I’m staying at, there are often more people than that in a room. I don’t need air-conditioning. I can buy my own water and I don’t need a special little sink that only I get to use. Collective accommodations are fine with me. From now on, I think I’ll take the second-class couchette sleepers rather than paying even more for first. It’s just not worth it.

But what vexed me even more was the conductor. He turned the air-conditioning off at night because it would “make us too cold” (quite the opposite was occurring) and it took the intervention of my bunk-mate and his language skills to get it turned on again, though only half-way.

He locked the door to the first-class car, which is at the end of the train. This caused me some trouble when I came back from the restaurant car, and since the nearest WC was outside that same door, I spent the evening rushing through my time in the bathroom lest I be locked out again.

Finally, when he came to collect my Eurail pass, I asked him whether I should mark in only one day on the calendar (7/7) or two days (6/7 and 7/7). It’s an overnight train so train travel occurs on both days. However the Eurail rulebook says that if travel starts after 7 PM for an overnight train, only the second of the two days need be recorded (which is great, because I only have 10 days of pre-paid travel on my pass). My train from Bucharest, however – the only one leaving for Budapest each day – starts at 5:45 PM. So I was relieved when the conductor said I need only mark one day – he was cutting me a break, but it’s a beak I felt somewhat entitled to, given the circumstances.

But when I got my pass back, he had rewritten the first day as 6/7 and added a second, 7/7 day. This causes two problems. First, I paid $800 for that damn pass, and that one train trip just used up a fifth of my travel on it. Second, rewriting days on the calendar is a BIG no-no: it suggests fraud, which is why I made sure to ask the conductor before I marked anything on the calendar. Now, not only are two full days used, but there are scribbles besides. Scribbles accompanies by a signature, sure, but that doesn’t look much different than scribbles either. Now I’m worried that for the rest of my travels I’m going to have angry conductors asking if I’ve altered the pass.

That one train trip from Bucharest to Budapest cost me $200, all included. I might have flown.

At least I got to look at some pretty mountains along the way:

Bucharest-BudapestTrain1

A view

Bucharest-BudapestTrain2

A view

And a closer look at the cross at the top:

Bucharest-BudapestTrain3

A view

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Train

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

“But what about the train trip itself,” you may ask. How much did THAT rock?” Well, it was pretty cool, I’ll admit. These were my sleeping quarters:

Istanbul-BucharestTrain1

The train

Istanbul-BucharestTrain2

The train

Ahh, reminds me of India! I love the Indian trains and missed the 30-hour train trip from Chennai to Bhopal that I’d been planning on taking this trip. Yes, I was somewhat looking forward to that. This compartment wasn’t a sleeper; it’s second-class, called a “couchette.” Apparently it lacks some of the amenities of a first-class sleeper – maybe air conditioning? A private wash-basin? Fewer beds, certainly; I think first-class sleepers hold either three or four. Regardless; this was fine, fine! Just like India, except different: In India the compartment would be full, with five other people. Here it was empty: I had the entire space to myself. I still took the top bunk, like I always do – it’s a habit from India that serves two purposes: first, people are less likely to steal the valuables you carry up there with you (i.e. everything aside from my non-rolly, very heavy suitcase, which you’d have to be dumb as a rock to try stealing; it’s locked anyway). Second, you can sleep as long as you like, because while the middle bunks are taken down so that people can sit on the lower bunks, the top ones remain. Neither reason for sleeping up top pertained in this case, but I did so anyway.

What a treat!

Most of my waking hours were spent reading about budgeting. I’m now half-done with that painfully boring textbook (I assistant-teach the course next term) and I can’t wait to be finished with it. The other portion was spent looking out the window and munching on cucumbers.

That, and going through endless passport/ticket turmoil. During the day, it didn’t matter so much when people wanted to re-check and re-re-check your ticket, or check your passport when you crossed the border. However the first border we crossed was the one from Turkey into Bulgaria, and that was at 4 AM. In that case, we all had to exit the train, cross some train tracks, and wait in a very slow line for an hour until our passports were checked. These are the tracks we had to cross, just in case you’re curious:

Istanbul-BucharestTrain3

Train Station

So, up at 4 AM, back to sleep at 5 AM, right? Au contraire. Then there were the passport checks – two consecutively – aboard the train. Then my ticket was re-checked. Then customs came in and asked if I had anything to declare. I swear, this song-and-dance didn’t end until 7 AM. Don’t they realize I’m an American, privileged, and therefore immune from these kinds of checks? My word – or the very fact of my presence, words unsaid – should inspire implicit trust and confidence.

Okay, fine, maybe not, but I DO wish I’d had the chance to sleep.

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The Border

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

This is what the border between Bulgaria and Romania looks like:

Danube

The Danube

The River Danube, in all its industrial glory. In fact, if you were to look back to the left a ways, you’d see seven – count them, seven – nuclear cooling towers. Lord help us if there’s ever a tsunami on the Danube.

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But What About Fields?

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

“Yes, yes,” you may say, “That sunset is awful nice. But what about the fields in Romania? And how do they compare to the fields of Bulgaria…say, as they might be viewed from a speeding train? Riddle me that!” Well, here you go:

Romanian fields:

RomanianFields1

Romania

RomanianFields2

Romania

And Bulgarian fields:

BulgarianFields1

Bulgaria

BulgarianFields2

Bulgaria

BulgarianFields3

Bulgaria

“Wow, those Bulgarian fields sure are sunnier,” you might say. And you’d be right, smarty pants. Bulgarian fields are always sunnier than Romanian fields. These are the kinds of intangible things you learn when you travel the world.

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