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Europe

The last train home

Louise Alexander tells a tale to remind us of the importance of double checking…

BerlinWe had been travelling around Eastern Europe by train for exactly a month; setting off on 4th September from London, our journey had carried us to Turkey, Slovakia, Russia and many places in between. We had been on fast trains, slow trains, rickety old trams, overnight buses… the whole thing had taken weeks of painstaking planning using the internet, in particular the fantastic http://www.seat61.com. Seats and couchettes had been booked in advance to get the best deals, agencies had been found to negotiate the Russian transport system, and all had gone like clockwork. No trains had been missed, no tickets had been misplaced. We had followed a bit of a military schedule due to having to squeeze the whole trip in between two weddings that we were reluctant to miss, and now, 11 sleeper trains, one bus and a wide variety of fascinating cities later, we found ourselves leaving Berlin. At the Hauptbahnhof we hauled ourselves and our luggage into the sleeper cabin, looking forward to a wedding in the Cotswolds a little less than 24 hours later. We had treated ourselves to a private double for this final leg and sank gratefully onto the beds amongst the fresh white linen and fluffy pillows. Then, someone else arrived. The lady entering looked as confused as we did. We explained that this was our cabin and we had booked a private double, she must have made a mistake. As the train pulled out of the station, she obligingly went to confer with the conductor in the corridor, and after checking her ticket he took a look at ours. We pointed out the cabin number and we did indeed all appear to be booked into the same beds. Just as I was wondering how the wonderfully efficient Deutche Bahn could have made such an error, the friendly conductor kindly clarified the situation: “Your tickets are for last month I’m afraid, this is the problem. It is October now.” I was horrified. I had fallen at the last hurdle and booked a ticket for a train that we missed before we even left the UK. All that planning and we faced being turfed out at the next station, or being charged a hefty sum Euros to sit up all night in a third class carriage. The friendly conductor looked highly amused at my horror. He bustled off to settle the poor ousted lady into a different cabin and returned to turn a very blind eye to the date on our ticket, asking us whether we would like ‘the, kaffee oder heisse schokolade’ with our breakfast in the morning! We couldn’t believe our luck – or was it just absolute proof that trains really are the most civilised way to travel!

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About Itchy Feet Magazine

Itchy Feet Magazine is an online travel magazine for independent and adventurous travellers. Our aims are to champion sustainable travel, provide a platform for new journalistic talent and last but not least provide a fresh and inspirational e-magazine covering all corners of the globe, from hidden gems to well-trodden paths.

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