Well…I thought this was the title of that 70s song Mark is always humming around the flat with his hair peaked in front, shirt half buttoned, and gold chains dangling, but he insists it’s actually called “Working on my Night Moves” and deals with some guy’s awkward teenage blues. And that doesn’t work with my theme today, so let’s just pretend that the song says “Night Train” (although why some guy would write a whole song about working on the night train IS a bit odd…funny I thought that. I guess I will add it to my Embarrassing-I-Fake-Knowing-The-Song-Lyrics repertoire, which would include when I thought Prince’s song “I Would Die For You” said “Apple Dapple Doo”. Yeah. Mark corrected me on that one, too. Poor guy, I must embarrass him so often with my self-assured singing.)

But I digress. Onwards.


In case you hadn’t yet guessed, we rode a night train. Remember that exciting trip to Zavet, the microscopic Bulgarian village? Well, the only way to get back to Sofia is either to take a two-hour tour and get lost for any given number of years on a not-so-deserted island with the Professor and MaryAnn six hour bus ride that left at 2:30 in the morning, or to take a night train. Not fond of standing on deserted dirt roads awaiting a bus in the wee hours of the morning, we opted for the train…with the sleeping car…and a bed.

The train pulled into Isperih for its full 60 second stop at 10:30pm. All 15 people waiting for it seemed determined to be first on. Let’s just say elbows were flying and old people risked their very lives. Once on (though it’s possible some people were hanging on the outside James Bond style), we waited at the sleeping car for the most chaotic travel upgrade of my life. People pushed us aside and our party of three got separated. We all wanted to share just one cabin, since there are three beds and three people. (Using my mad math skills again!)

But alas, that was not to be. Apparently, boys sleep in boy cabins and girls sleep in girl cabins, a la Sixth Grade Camp. This arrangement was not so inconvenient for me, since our third travelling companion–let’s call her Person X, or P.X. for short–is a girl. We found our cabin, made up our Brady-esque bunk beds, put on our PJs, and crawled in.


(This is a sleeping cabin)

I promptly put on my iPod and started reading my book. P.X. headed for the bathroom. Mark sent me a text message on my cell phone that said simply:

My guy smells. Like dirty feet. Yuck.

Which simply proves my theory that girls are cleaner and more orderly than boys, because our roommate was not only fragrant, but quiet as well. And I know there was some mean snoring going on in Camp Boy Cabin. I sent him a response commiserating with his circumstances, and continued reading my book. For a while. I had a vague notion that P.X. had been gone a while, but figured there was probably a line of people dying to use the loo on a train.

I guess not. Apparently P.X. got locked in the bathroom. Like locked, locked in…as in no opening the door or yelling to get out, locked in. There was actually a fourth guy travelling with us, the guy at whose house we stayed, but he was in the main compartment, as he was only going two hours away. Luckily, P.X. just happened to have her cell phone on her and texted him that she was locked in and could he please, please, please tell someone to let her out. Surely the vision of spending the entire night in the train bathroom with the tracks running by underneath you at slightly-less-than-lightning speed (or in the case of Bulgarian trains, at donkey trotting speeds) was less than appealing. A worker finally rescued her using a pair of pliers. So MacGuyver.
It must have been horrifying. Because there I was bopping to my Frida Soundtrack reading a book about Africa in the early 1900s, when in burst P.X. with tears on her face. Perhaps I am missing a sympathetic gene, but when she told me, I laughed and laughed out loud. I mean, really…could you imagine sleeping in a train bathroom? And what if nobody knew you were there for days and days? Man, I guess that would be, shall we say, less than funny.

Eventually we turned out the lights and hoped for a good night’s sleep. Which kind of happened and kind of didn’t. I DID sleep, but I kept waking up every time the train stopped, thinking we were home and I had better hurry and get on my clothes before we take off for somehwere else, like Macedonia or Serbia. I learned in the morning that the guy who’s “working on the night train” actually knocks on your door and warns you when you have 20 minutes left. Just saying, it would have been nice if they had told me that before!

And so we made it back. And except for Mark’s odiferous experience, we decided the night train isn’t so bad. Good thing, too. Because we can get to Istanbul, Turkey for like 40 leva, or $30. And just as soon as we’re legal, we intend on doing just that!