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Day 2 – Swiss Dreams are Made of This

Libby Bull continues her Off The Rails journey through Europe. This time, Switzerland to Slovenia in some pretty rough sleeping conditions.

I feel too awkward pulling out my journal and turning the light on to write so I guess this one’s gonna be written on the eternally-chaotic notes app phone (resting alongside the other 1000 notes which read like Rupi Kaur poems: Mug Tree, The Last Mattress, Angela and Gary, Kotthu chicken, veggie/cheese, vegan x2….Rio Rumble).

Zurich to Ljubljana: The ‘sleep’ in ‘sleeper train’ is the cruelest joke I’ve heard in a while.

Night train. You think glamour, romance, genteel murder (à la Murder on the Orient Express). Reality: Travelodge but on wheels with even less floor space, no bathroom, and you really really don’t want to look at any surface under blue light – or to be honest, daylight. We arrived at our train cabin and immediately realised it barely had space for one of us standing up, never mind four – already warning signs. After moving one seat up we managed to make room to eat – a whole cucumber and a pretzel – and chat – seething group tensions – as the anticipation rose for the entrance of our roommates (aka new best friends) which the empty middle bunks promised.

In Zurich train station, A and I had bought some Kirsch and Swiss tonic in order to complete our Swiss food mission. What can I say, we’re cultural gastronomers (is that a word? Like astronomer? It’s 2 am, ok, it should be). First, I made the mistake of shaking the tonic bottle to mix in the spirit and spilled it all over myself, and then A, as the most loyal and utterly brainless of friends, followed suit only minutes later. Think that slapstick scene where the idiot character looks down the hose pipe in confusion and gets a jet of water to the face. Our cabin was of course smelling of the excessively alcoholic Kirsch – my only thought: what would our new friends think?!

We prepared for bed and eagerly awaited their arrival, yet our hopes were dashed when a middle-aged couple, stern-faced and clearly not keen on us hesitated at the door, grimaced, and came in. No new friends or serendipitous love interests there then. Although C has joked that I finally get to sleep under a man (giving the ‘sleep’ in ‘sleeper train’ joke a run for its money cruelty-wise). I, of course, refrained from replying that ‘thank god the bed under him wasn’t memory foam, cause the rut of her imprint would surely make for an uncomfortable night’s rest’ – I’m classier than that, and also I only just thought of it and also now thinking of it, it doesn’t actually make sense – again 2 am ok!

So now as I write this I’m crammed into the bottom bunk with the sounds of the train, the man above me snoring, and the occasional wandering corridor whistle and chat, forming a sort of ambient soundscape to my attempts at sleep. Although for a moment now I can see through a crack in the window blinds the dark and unrecognisable landscape outside as our train chugs further east, a lonely beacon in the rural darkness of transient flickering hamlets – And I’m pretty sure the man above has just woken himself up with his own snoring. Perhaps Sleeping Beauty would have had only a catnap if she’d had sleep apnoea? I guess there’s still hope for a murder tonight if this keeps up. And it certainly won’t be genteel.

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