I was brushing my teeth in my parents’ bathroom and suddenly I had night train flashbacks. Not that my parents’ house can be compared to a night train in any way, quite the opposite… Night trains are funny. In the movies they are always portrayed as the most romantic thing ever. The sound of the train, the dinner by candle light in a fancy onboard restaurant, the charming old suitcases they always carry and the old wooden interiors of the trains. The reality… is different.
I’ve been lucky I guess. I haven’t actually had to do that many night trains. I did just enough of them to develop a love-hate relationship with them. For some reason night trains always arrive at the most impossible times. An arrival before 7AM seems to be preferable, so even if the beds would be comfortable, you don’t sleep well because you’re afraid you’ll miss your alarm and the train will happily continue after your intended stop with you still oblivious as to where you are and what just happened.
In one train there was actually water spitting out of the toilet. Well toilet… it was basically a hole. You could actually see the train tracks through it. The air sucked up through the bowl refreshing your bottom and spitting at it. What exactly this toilet was spitting is questionable, so as you can imagine this was not the best experience.
The reason I thought of the night train is that I was brushing my teeth and thought about how easy that was. On the train I’d packed all the things I needed in my daypack, because there really isn’t the space to turn your luggage upside down in search for your toiletries. With toothpaste already in place, water bottle in hand, I’d walk to the sink at the end of the carriage. When you’re done you awkwardly pour some water onto your hand so you can rinse your mouth without getting toothpaste all over your water bottle.
Come bed time you turn into a trapeze artist climbing onto the top bunk without getting stuck or knocking your head. Then you can finally squirm yourself into the paper thin sheet that actually feels like paper and if you’re lucky you get a pillow or a blanket. Otherwise you’ll have to improvise with bags, scarfs and jackets on your bed, which may or may not be your size. For fresh air you open the window, or maybe so your feet have space, but the noise will keep you up anyway. And then you’ve finally fallen asleep and the train suddenly brakes. You roll back and forth like you’re a pen on a trolley. Welcome back.
When morning comes it’s always a guess as to how much you actually slept. You feel like you’ve been awake for hours and yet you’re not terribly sleepy. You start thinking you can actually get through the day and you might even be a little bit excited about the prospect of walking through Rome, or Vienna, or… Then the toothbrush ritual starts all over again. The sun is rising over some exotic landscape. Your friends pop their sleepy heads out of there paper sheets. It is just like in the movies. And then you touch down on the toilet and feel the breeze…