I’ve had a hectic few days since I left Prague.
From Prague I caught an overnight train to Budapest, Hugary. It was my first overnight train in Europe, and I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, but I was excited nonetheless. It ended up being a really good experience; sleeper trains here include a reasonably comfortable bed and blankets. Usually in second class there are three people in each compartment. However, I was the only person booked in my compartment! I arrived well rested and spent half a day running around the Budapest trying to see all the major sights.
From there it was a six or so hour train ride to Zagreb, Croatia, several hours waiting around Zagreb, and then another overnight train to Split (on the Dalmatian Coast in Croatia). I ended up not being quite so lucky with that train. The Zagreb train station was the first time since Mongolia that I’ve had major problems not speaking the language. Somewhere in the confusion I got booked onto a train, however I did not get booked onto the sleeper part of the train, which meant spending the night sleeping in a chair. The non sleeper compartments consist of two rows of three chairs, that don’t recline (I don’t know if this is true of all European trains, or just the ones here). Fortunately the train was once again fairly empty. I had a compartment to myself and was able to sprawl across a row of chairs.
Having survived six weeks of trains in India, I felt pretty confident about trains before heading over to Europe. Last night I started to realize it might not all be as simple as I had thought. One big drawback with the seating area is that the seats are unreserved, so there is no way to lock the door, and anyone can wander in at any hour the night. The danger is this dawned on me when early into the trip a rather inebriated man came barging into the unlocked compartments asking for (I think) money. Fortunately there was still someone else in the compartment, and he quickly moved on to the next compartment. However a stop later the other person in the compartment exited, and I was alone.. I don’t want to deter anyone from traveling around; the train didn’t feel particularly dangerous, it was more just being aware of how alone I was. In the end everything was fine, and I even managed to get a few hours of sleep. I still think the trains here are safe and I would definitely still take overnight trains. I think it’s just another instance of sometimes no matter how hard you try, you just can’t be quite a safe traveling alone, and in the end it comes down to figuring out which risks are worth taking, and which aren’t.
Enough about the train, I’ve arrived in Split, and it is absolutely magnificent. I’m able to see blue skies for the first time in weeks and it’s about ten degrees Fahrenheit/5.5 degrees Celsius warmer here.
|From Riva (main promenade)|
Split is off the Adriatic Sea on Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast, which means palm tress and beautiful sea vistas. Much of the old town is centered around Diocletian’s Palace (named after the Roman Emperor who had the palace built in 305 AD). Unlike most historical sites, Diocletian’s Palace is actually part of the city. People live within the palace grounds, and there are homes and stores built into the palace walls. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.
|From People going about their day behind walls of Diocletian’s Palace|