At Train to Japan Chapter 2: Sleepers With No Sleep

Monday, July 2 2012 at 11:29 (Trips)

Day one of my awesomely epic journey began in modesty – with the regular train from Diss to Liverpool Street. The biggest difference from usual was that I was travelling first class and thus didn’t have to associate with any dreadful ruffians. I spoke briefly to a rather nice middle-class woman who asked me where I was going given that I had a large bag and a crazy woman waving me off through the window. She seemed rather impressed by my intended trip.

Arriving in London, I boarded a Metropolitan line tube that turned out to be not only cool and spacious, but also kind of empty. Thankfully the tube was fully functional despite it being a Sunday. St Pancras was okay, the check-in was painless though the security checks are no different from an airport and thus still annoying. The Eurostar itself was full of ruffians, including a number who were carrying about 2-3 times my quantity of luggage. The journey was bearable, but no window seat.

On arrival in Brussels I spotted a guy who I knew was English who had been on my Eurostar looking bemusedly at map on the wall. We began talking and discovered that although we were both headed to Cologne, I was on an earlier Thalys whilst he had a later ICE. My new friend Patrick and I went in search of tea and after walking around the station (which is helpfully Brussels Sud and Midi at the same time) we eventually found a tea shop full of Belgians playing board games. Patrick was cool. He’s an Oxford student who lives literally opposite my favourite burrito bar. He was going to Helsinki to study anthills for seven weeks for his dissertation. He also knew the first few lines of book 4 of the Aeneid off by heart after studying it in GCSE Latin. If that’s not cool I don’t know what is.

I eventually bid Patrick adieu and went up to the platform to find my Thalys. Again, the train wasn’t uncomfortable but still no window seat. There was an English couple next to me about my age, but they had a soppy pre-bought ‘travel scrapbook’ (as opposed to a manly blog) and voiced a fondness for Russell Brand films.

Arriving in Cologne I looked around for some schnitzel, but none was forthcoming. I refused to eat at either the Asian cuisine or sushi bars in the station, so for some reason ended up with Pizza Hut. No idea why, it was vile. I saw the first goal of the football then went outside to the Dom (cathedral) which was right next to the station. It was very pretty and pleasantly cool, but unfortunately there were some unpleasant punks (literally punks with Mohawks etcetera) who were shouting loudly and being annoying.

I went back inside to find the platform for my train to Warsaw (called the Jan Kiepura sleeper) and chatted briefly with another English guy and also saw Patrick again briefly – it seems that the train to Warsaw and Copenhagen is the same and just splits. The sleeper itself was somewhat cramped and hotter than the fires of hell. Also a guy in my couchette read with his light on until quite late. Takeaway from this is that I got very little sleep.

Today I woke up all too early and read Harry Potter on the Kindle for three hours before we arrived. After navigating Warsaw Centralna’s mazelike layout for a while I eventually calculated a (apparently) near-exact exchange rate for Polish Zloty using a Mars bar as a metric, and so withdrew an appropriate amount.

I then sat in Starbucks and blogged for an hour and a half since there’s power and wifi. That’s right, I came all this way to be served by Poles in Starbucks. Why did I go on this trip again?

There’s some kind of park thing nearby, so I’m going to go look at that.

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3 Comments

  1. camillaherrmann said,

    Crazy woman waving you off? Who would that be? 🙂

  2. Chloé said,

    No way, Patrick knew the Aeneid? You two must be soul mates 😉
    You’re taking photos right? Because you’re stopping in all of the places I want to go visit 🙂 xxx

  3. Elliot de Bondt said,

    And thus, his journey begins…
    He he… schnitzel…

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