Friday, 14 September 2007

The train journey home

Well if any of you are wondering what it was like to wake up in Budapest and have breakfast in Vienna on our 29 hour trip home, then this is just to let you know it was probably more relaxing that what many of our colleagues who travelled by air had to go through. Some got stuck in traffic, others had to leave a day early in order to spend a night in a hotel in Bucarest to have a chance of catching their planes - many spent between 12 and 17 hours getting back to Geneva.
Anyway we enjoyed it. Of course the breakfast in Vienna bit does make things sound rather stylish and I've written at the beginning of the trip about the romance of travelling by train. Of course there is the other side too, the seedy side of travelling by train - and even that can be quite fun. We made a bad choice on connections and caught one of Romania's spanking new trains to Simeria but then had to wait 4 hours for the train to Vienna. We started by trying to find somewhere to eat, ended up finding a wonderfully authentic (yes of course the translation of that is pretty awful) place where we could at least sit down and drink a beer. Only bottles were provided - and when I saw the state of the glasses I was relieved we hadn't been offered one. So we sat on plastic chairs in a seedy café, served by a disconsolate young man who tried and finally succeeded in getting something like a music system to play Romanian folk music to us and the other customers.
The local dogs from the railway station were keen to join us for our drinks - no doubt we smelt like foreigners - and at least they were friendly. Fortunately we managed to make sure they didn't follow us into the station's waiting room where we spent several hours reading before getting on to our train. (The Life of Hunger by Amélie Nothomb - highly recommended - the bit about chocolate and God is brilliant!)
Finally we got home before midnight having travelled through Romania, Hungary, Austria, Liechtenstein, Germany, Switzerland and into France. Yes we were two hours late but we did get to sleep in proper beds overnight on the train and eat good food in the Austrian on board restaurant.
More about the impact on the climate of travellying by train in a later post.