Ok, at this point I’m a little worried that my first overnight train trip was all a dream. I remember it so fondly… courteous train attendants that dealt with our passports at the border in the middle of the night, little containers of potable water, sharply made beds and a food car in case you needed a snack. As expected, my overnight train to Bangkok was not the same experience, but I’m in Europe now- my expectations are higher.
It all started off positively enough, with a professor-like multi-lingual ticket clerk that set me up with a double that I’d most likely have to myself. That night around 9:00 I got to the station, found my private(!) little bunk easily enough. Had to make my own bed. In the freezing cold. Tried to ask the train attendant about the passport situation. He said something about in two hours. Huh? Ok. Whatever. The heat finally went on, I’m happy and snuggled under three blankets dozing as the train rocks me back and forth. 12:46 am (to be exact) there’s a loud knock on my door and someone trying to open it while yelling “Passport!” Um, ok. Hold on. I open the door, passport control flips on the overhead light, glares at me, looks at my passport, asks me if I am traveling alone and then stamps my passport. Whew, they let me out of Serbia!
I settle back into bed… 20 minutes later… you guessed it… the Croatian border patrol comes knocking on my door. The whole thing happens again as the train enters Croatia. And then again when we leave Croatia. And then again when we enter Slovenia. I stopped checking my watch… I didn’t want to know! Needless to say it wasn’t the most restful of nights and as I said before is seriously making me doubt my first overnight train experience.
The best thing about the whole experience though was the last border patrol who took my passport over to his colleague and proceeded to flip through it with him and talk (in Slovenian) about it. I could pick out Europa, Asia and Morocco in between all the indistinguishable words. He then comes back to me, finds a place to stamp my passport, and says, “You have been many places.” 🙂 Impressing border patrol… I think that earns me some points!