About ten years ago I stood on a platform at central station in Amsterdam, I can't remember where I was going, maybe Berlin, maybe just some town somewhere in the Netherlands. Maybe it wasn't even ten years ago, but just five. Anyhow, It was some time ago that I was standing on a platform at Central station of Amsterdam. On the other side of the platform there was a train, waiting to go to Moscow. All the way from Amsterdam to Moscow... The thought I had at that moment was: I want to go with that train one day.
Just two days ago I finally took that train. Unfortunately it wasn't exactly the same train since they split it in half. Nowadays you have to change trains in Warsaw. Somewhere in Hannover they connect 2 wagons of the train to Moscow, which now leaves from Basel apparently, and the rest of it is connected in Warsaw.
My neighbor asked me why I didn't just take a plane to St. Petersburg. Yes, it would be much quicker, but I like to travel slowly, if I can. And a train is a perfect way of transport to go from one place to another. You see the world changing while you stare outside. You can take your coffee in the bar and you can put your head down if your sleepy. it's a different world, and it's a world I like to join every now and then.
In my compartment there's a older Dutch lady who has never travelled with a night train before and is surprised every time she finds another little things that try to help make our stay in the fully booked six bed compartment more comfortable. She finds it quite adventurous, climbing on her bed with the small ladder, finding out that there are different kinds of light you can switch on or off and the possibilities of the beds being made into seats.
It makes me aware of all the nights I spend in trains around the world. Some were disgusting, others rather fancy, some where carriages where you slept with at least 8 people around you, other times I had carriage for myself. But every night train is a special kind of world. It has it's own rules and regulations, it's own awkwardness. Staying in a couchette means you're sharing your most vulnerable moment with a bunch of strangers in a very small and enclosed space where you constantly bump into each other.
What do you wear when you go to sleep? how often can you go up and down your bed without disturbing your neighbors underneath you too much? where do I leave my luggage, and what about my smelling shoes? Without saying much to each other somehow there's always a way things happen. And the akwardness is the same everywhere, whether you're on a nighttrain in Maroc, in China or in Poland.
I feel at home in these weird little worlds on wheels where different cultures come together to travel further on.