June 05, 2018
Euro Night Schlafwagen Sleeper Car, somewhere between Venice and Vienna.
[06-05, 10:55 PM] Sara M.: Oh man oh man oh man, my love!!!!!! I am currently on the Schlafwagen – yes, you read that awesome German right – the night train to Vienna! I don’t have wifi but I am actually SO PUMPED I just had to Whatsapp you anyways and it’ll send when it sends …. this sleeper coach is freaking FANTASTIC! My mom and I are totally balling out here! Slippers, a teeny tiny sink, a crazy rope swing to keep me in my ludicrously high top bunk as the train rocks, free sparkling wine (it was on our bed and my mom being a …
[06-05, 10:55 PM] Sara M.: HOLD THE PHONE. THIS BROADCAST INTERRUPTED TO INFORM YOU THAT MY MOM JUST DISCOVERED THERE’S A SHOWER IN OUR CAR. A SHOWER. I JUST SHOWERED ON THE TRAIN. No wonders of Europe can ever – EVER – compare with that.
[06-05, 10:55 PM] Sara M.: (Continuing on with our saga)
[06-05, 10:56 PM] Sara M.: … shameless uke and asking the porter (who btw, came to ask our BREAKFAST ORDERS), “Is the wine complimentary??” And him replying, “But of course. We just want you to enjoy your evening.”
[06-05, 10:57 PM] Sara M.: Holy crap. This is what happens when josh and not sara books the overnight train 😛
[06-05, 10:57 PM] Sara M.: (I said that to my mom and she replied, “I like josh.”)
June 06, 2018
Meanwhile, back at the ranch…
[06-06, 2:17 PM] Joshua: Hahahahaha WOW this was an epic text-barrage to wake up to!
[06-06, 2:18 PM] Joshua: Lol I’d forgotten that I had bought that ticket! Well, you’re welcome, you’re welcome (said in my Maui voice, of course)
June 09-10, 2018
Polrail… Sleeper car? Maybe. Definitely not Car 431 (since that was on our ticket and that would thus make too much sense). Somewhere between Budapest and Záhony.
[06-09, 11:19 PM] Sara M.: I don’t know if 2 sleeper cars could be more different than Polrail vs. The Schlafwagen.
[06-09, 11:20 PM] Sara M.: To begin, Lviv wasn’t listed as a destination on any of the trains, and there were literally zero train employees anywhere in the station to ask. A cleaning lady told me this was the right train, but our car # was not to be found (we were car 431, and the train only had up to 405). So I’m running up and down the train and finally just heave mom and the suitcases onto a car and find some seat numbers that kind of match ours. There’s only one other lady seated in the whole car and we have a very confusing conversation in English / Hungarian, during which she just repeated “Chop? Chop!” And I repeated “Seats 11 and 15!!!”
[06-09, 11:24 PM] Sara M.: My mom saves the day at this point by discovering lady is Ukrainian , so they immediately start chatting in Ukrainian about grandchildren, which is adorable, whilst I try to puzzle out where the heck we may be off to. FINALLY an employee comes along! I show her our tickets and she goes huffily, “Sleeper car. Dat way.” I’m trying to gesture and figure out where we’re going, when she snaps, “Or stay here, up to you, I don’t care!!”
She then descends on our lovely new friend and informs her, “Your ticket second class. Out. ”
Our lady obviously can’t understand English, so employee raises her voice and goes, “Idiot. Second class! Two!! Dva!” Then she turns back to us, “Sleeper car! Go!!”
[06-09, 11:28 PM] Sara M.: Ay yi. We go through what looks like an engine room and so I had assumed was off limits but nope, apparently just the way to first-class (Obviously. Maybe I am also an idiot). We find our berth. We’re so amazed and relieved there are actual beds (and not the non-reclining chairs we had thought were our “Sleeper car” seats!)
Suddenly, this balding unshaven man in dirty jeans and a beer t-shirt comes out and gets in our room, and is gesturing at the beds and grabbing at our sheets, and waving his finger at us. Both mom and I are both thinking the same thing, namely, “Holy #@$% is this guy sharing our berth????!”
I’m telling him that we have tickets and saying the berth number over and over again, and he then grabs our tickets and says, “I take these, give back in Lviv.”
[06-09, 11:30 PM] Sara M.: Wtf um, NO. So I try to grab them back and he’s getting all pissy and finally yells, “Yura!!!!!”
And Yura, this kindly older gentleman dressed in – imagine that! – a train uniform with an ID badge, comes in, and says yes, we’re in the right place and he’ll take our tickets now and give them back in Lviv. And then he brings Mom coffee in a beautiful silver salvar and leaves.
[06-09, 11:32 PM] Sara M.: Mom and I just couldn’t stop laughing and calling yelling man every bad Ukrainian name we could think of (“Snot-nosed whiney idiot flower pot!!” …it loses something in the translation). Who the heck WAS he???
[06-09, 11:32 PM] Sara M.: Needless to say, there was no breakfast menu or sparkling wine, so good thing we still had a bottle of prosecco from the Schlafwagen — we definitely needed it!!!
[06-09, 11:33 PM] Sara M.: Just spent a lovely few hours sitting and knitting with mom, and now it’s almost bedtime. When I wake up … I’ll be in my country!!!!
[06-10, 12:44 AM] Sara M.: Oh jeepers. Woken up by literal banging on the door at midnight — welcome to Ukraine! Border guards on-board to examine everyone’s passports!
[06-10, 1:25 AM] Sara M.: Dear goodness. Ever since crossing the border, the train has been grinding deafeningly. It actually sounds like it doesn’t fit the tracks. Eff. Looks like there will be no sleeping in this sleeper car 😑😢😩
[06-10, 1:46 AM] Sara M.: Psych! That was actually just the Hungarian exit crossing! NOW it’s Ukraine entry time! 😣 Bwahahahaha Mom definitely found her Ukrainian sassy vibe and when there was more banging on the door, she yelled, “Що ти хочеш!?? Що ви робите?!!!?” (“What!!? What do you want???!”) in Ukrainian. Safely hiding in my top bunk, pretending I didn’t understand anything, I let her deal with the border guards!
[06-10, 1:47 AM] Sara M.: Got my passport stamps!!! Ay yi, onward ho?
[06-10, 3:05 AM] Sara M.: Update – 3AM and still no ho.
[06-10, 7:15 AM] Sara M.: Aha. So apparently a giant crane came sometime after 3AM and fixed something on our train before we could start moving again.
Even the toilet paper knows we’re in Ukraine. It is literally a roll of crepe paper streamers, the colour of every good Slavic birthday party: grey.
First glimpse of the Motherland!!
[06-10, 9:14 PM] Sara M.: Still more hiccups upon arrival, where seminary people [random family contact in the Ukrainian Baptist community who were graciously allowing us to stay with them during our time in Lviv] were supposed to meet us but no one was at the station and we were kind of peeved and there was no Internet and no phone number to get ahold of them… but we ended up talking to a lovely cabbie who informed us there was the UKRAINA RUN marathon today (but of course!) And so no cab could even get through to the seminary. We were about to brave public transit but stopped for some breakfast first and GOT PEROGIES and suddenly we weren’t peeved at all anymore 😊😊😊😄😄😄
[06-10, 9:15 PM] Sara M.: And then perogy place had wifi and we got the mobile # for the seminary guy who was apparently wandering the station looking for us! He (and everyone at the seminary) are so exceptionally lovely and our rooms are freaking ginormous! Except we each have our own and it’s actually really sad to be separated down the hallway!
June 10, 2018
And again, back at the ranch…
[06-10, 5:56 PM] Joshua: Wowwwwww you basically just composed a complete blog entry just through these whatsapps! That sounds absolutely crazy! Glad you guys look happy (in a just-teetering-on-insane kind of way 😝)