When we were planning the European leg of our trip, Laura and I thought that we’d use our Eurail passes to take a bunch of night trains. Our thinking was that we’d save money by not getting a hotel for a night, and we wouldn’t waste daylight hours getting from place to place.

In reality, however, we planned most of our stops close enough together to make night trains impractical. Plus, reservations are required for night trains, and reservations cost money even for eurail pass holders.

So it wasn’t until we wanted to go from the Czech Republic to the Rhine river region in Germany that we finally got to experience a night train.

Our train left from Vienna in the early evening. Our reservations for two bunks cost €73. I was a bit surpirsed by that price, as it was actually more than we’ve been paying for our hotels and hostels. It also made me glad that we aren’t taking many night trains, as it would have really hurt our budget.

Or bunks were in a six person room. When we showed up there was just one other guy there. He was a German college student who had been taking some exams in Vienna, and he was pretty cool. Before the train left one other guy showed up as well.

The bunks were small. They were actually a bit shorter than I am tall, and they are stacked three high so there isn’t enough room to sit up in them. However, even though they aren’t spacious, it was nice to he able to lay down on the train. The bunks also come with a pillow, sheet, blanket, and small bottle of (unfortunately, carbonated) water.

Near the beginning of the ride the conductor came by and took our eurail pass. We were concerned about this initially, but the German student told us not to worry because it was normal.

Later, a really smelly guy came into our room to occupy one of the remaining beds. He was right below me and filled the cabin with a terribly pungent odor. I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to sleep (or breath) all night, but eventually the gentle rolling of the train was more powerful than the guy’s B.O. and I dozed off.

In the morning, we were served “breakfast,” which was a roll and a cup of water (though we didn’t know we were going to he served anything at all, so we were happy). Also, before the German student got off the train he made sure that we got our eurail pass back, and that our section of the train was going where we wanted it to. (He was actually pretty stressed out about those things for a while and ran around for a while making sure we were okay. It was very nice of him.)

Then, around 7 am, our train arrived in the city of Mainz. Our first night on the train had passed, uneventful but smelly.


Written by Jim Dalrymple II

Urbanism and travel writer. Also a journalist covering the news.

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