Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Backpacking Betty’s First ‘Real’ Escapade–7 Days Alone Starting with an Overnight Train

This is my forth time traveling in Europe and second big journey; but the first time around I only had a small laptop backpack. I got by with a little bag during that summer since I didn’t need all the jackets and layers I’ve needed this time around. My family jokes on me about -a lot of things actually- but mostly how much stuff I take with me when I leave on my little adventures. I tell them I can’t help it, and I really can’t. Is it such a bad thing to want to have extra clothes for when you make new friends and want to go out or just be the girly girl that you are? I think not!

At around 9:30pm after another delightful meal at Vito’s Italian restaurant with my family and the ‘locals’ they dropped me (and Betty!) off at the train station for my overnight train to Vienna, Austria (Wien). I'm spending three days in Vienna, taking a day trip on the way to Munich where I'll spend another three nights, one last day trip then back to home base! This will be the longest trip I've taken on my own with the biggest bag I've ever carried!

Me and Betty hit the road!
I’ve taken an overnight train before, but it was also on my first big trip almost four years ago. I remember it not being my favorite thing, a French guy who kept on talking to me after I repeatedly I told him I did not understand, and that it was hot (as it was during August). I had to take two trains just to get to Mannheim, a big enough city to catch a train to Vienna. I had tons of clothes in my bag but I was so cold that I didn’t even want to brave fishing them out, so during my layovers I would read my book and try to stay warm.

This wasn’t an easy feat since when ICE (express) trains or freight trains barreled by they brought so much wind that I would have to cover my face with my book and hope nothing flew up as they past. This loud thunder like current the trains caused did not stop when the train had gone by but kept ripping through for another thirty seconds or more and I have to say it would scare the shit out of you if you weren’t expecting it. After the winds died down the air settled and the platform would return to its dead silence. I got to enjoy this scenario a few times during my wait. At one station I had thirty minutes and at the next station my train was delayed thirty minutes so this time I had to bare the cold for a whole hour.

By the time I got on my train it was midnight; I was so thrilled to get on the warm train I almost didn’t mind the weird smells and sharing a tiny cell with five strangers on bunks pilled three deep on each side. Turns out one stayed empty so it was me, two women and two men in our little dark compartment, which as the professor I met on the platform warned me gets the same air all night- It just circulates around the train. Yum, can’t wait.

You might ask, if that’s what it takes, plus a pretty much sleepless night once you are on the train, why would you do it?

Well, simply because by 10:30am Friday I was showered, totally refreshed and on the subway from my hostel into town to start my day. I didn’t lose any day-light time traveling during the nine hour trip to Vienna. In the end it was worth it but I’m really glad that I don’t have to do it again any time soon!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey Ashley! I just read your eBlog through a Google filter I have on FK Austria Wien (the Bundesliga soccer team here, while you had the phrase Austria(Wien)). Anyway, if you need any tips, help, pointers... about Vienna, let me know, I've lived here 4 years. It's an incredible city, so are the local excursions!

Viel Spass!