Saturday, 12 October 2013

The Serbian Night Train Horror

This is a sequel in the series of blogposts that are titled like really bad movies.

I wandered across to the Budapest-Keleti station (which I haven't actually seen in daylight - but there you go, it probably looks quite nice) for the night train to Belgrade. Out of the EU and into the real eastern Europe - on into the Balkans, the bit I'm really quite interested in.

So into the station and this being about 10pm it's a bit quiet and there are some dodgy characters around, a couple of them sat on the benches on the platforms.

Turns out they were the train inspectors.

One of them was the spitting image of Roman Abramovich. Genuinely. 

So I got into my couchette, which was a Serbian carriage - so probably Soviet era. Lovely. The beds weren't bad though. I was sharing with a couple, an Hungarian called Tomasz and a Russian called Nadia. They were a good laugh for all 15 minutes before our new friend turned up - a man who will just be known as 'the drunk Serbian' from now on. 

He was totally out of it. 

I thought he couldn't read his ticket (the lights were terrible) so shone a torch on it to help him out. And of course, he went off on one, at which point I hid away for about 30 seconds until he'd forgotten that this had happened.

Tomasz and Nadia managed to get another couchette, leaving me alone with drunk Serbian for a night. Oh dear. So I locked EVERYTHING I had to the various parts of the compartment. Though these were Soviet era compartments, so a welding kit might have also been useful, but I digress.

Off we went towards Belgrade. Drunk Serbian guy was laughing at himself (what a self-deprecating comical genius) and doing the fake snoring that 12 year olds do. 

1am: woken up by the Hungarian border guard. Got confused when he didn't give me a stamp. Realised he wasn't Serbian. Realised I needed more sleep. 

At some point after that, he went for a wander down the corridor and came back with another beer. How he got it is beyond me. But there we go. 

He was in and out for quite a while, including being somewhere that wasn't the compartment when the Serbian border guard came around at around 2:30am. That was a fun one to explain.

"Are you alone in this compartment?"
"No, I'm not sure where he's gone."
"Is he English (sic) too?"
At which point I was tired and annoyed at being called English so just wished him luck and said he's probably in the bar. 

Whether or not there's a bar on the train, and whether or not it's open at 2:30am.

And back to attempting to sleep. 

And woken up at 6am telling me we're arriving at 6:30. This is another time when I want a train to be a couple of hours late. 

Apparently drunk Serbian was seeing his family in 2 hours. Good to know.

So after being accosted by many taxi drivers on the platform and failing to find either a cafe for breakfast or the hostel, I went back to the station cafe to grab some food and to work out where exactly the hostel was. 

It was literally opposite the station. I'd walked straight past it.

The taxi drivers still tried to convince me to take a fare with them to it. 

So I walked out of the back of the station, got lost in the car park but avoided the taxi drivers and checked into the hostel.

My bed was free so I went to sleep for another few hours. 

After that, I needed it.

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