Long night on the Prague-Krakow
| A late evening in September, at the train station in Prague.
Me and my boyfriend Gabriel are struggling to decipher our ticket for Krakow in search of the right train. Moving from Berlin to Prague had been quite easy, while now things are getting weirder and weirder. We approach an attendant, yes that is the train to Krakow but our wagon is "down there". We run a couple wagons down the platform and ask again. No, the wagon is further down, they show us with a gesture. We try again, still not our wagon. Finally an attendant lets us in. Just before we get in I fumble in my bag to give Gabriel my ebook reader, for some late-night reading. Several automatic doors later we finally reach our wagon. We kiss goodnight and get in the respective cabins. All is well, we made it.
15 minutes later, a message. "Honey, is the ebook reader in your bag? I was almost sure you gave it to me but I cannot find it". I get out apologising to my Japanese cabinmates for the inconvenience and find Gabriel in the corridor with a very embarrassed expression. Nothing, the ebook reader is nowhere to be found. I start to worry seriously, not for the device which can be easily replaced but for all the documents that I was keeping in its case. In the meantime, the train has left the station, so there are only 2 options: the reader fell out of my bag on the platform, it's lost; or it's somewhere in the train, and I have to find my way through the wagons to get it back.
I grab my ticket and my mobile and start sweeping corridor after corridor. A couple of times the button of the automatic door seems deactivated but the inspectors are on their rounds and let me through. I cross long narrow corridors where large middle aged men are gathering before returning to their berths. Very narrow corridors with very large men. Most of them holding a can of beer, and all of them in their underwear. Apologising profusely I make it through. I move on across another wagon and another, no luck, and finally I have to stop because there are no more doors. Outside, in the darkness I can identify metal bars and the hoods of some cars... that's the end of the train. An attendant pops out from nowhere and asks me in a wobbly English what I am looking for. I explain the situation and try to describe the device I lost, but I soon realise the poor man is not understanding a single word I am saying. He asks to see my ticket, and starts to gesticulate wildly pointing at the number written on the door and at the corridor behind me. Half-heartedly I get back, through one wagon and another, through the corridors where the large half naked men and their beers are still there, I apologise again and move on. And then I push yet another button, but this time the door won't budge a millimetre.
There are two people sitting on the floor right around the corner, a couple of young backpackers, Italians like me; they explain that the door is out of order so they got stuck there. We are all stuck there. What's more, we are stuck in a portion of the train that is soon going to disconnect from the rest and continue its journey towards some other destination, somewhere in Slovakia. Our only hope is to get out at the next station and reach our wagons from the outside. The train slows down, then stops. We rush through the door. At midnight, in an unknown station between the Czech Republic and Poland, three young Italians are running like crazy along the platform with bags and backpacks, to disappear in a wagon at the opposite end of the train.
Cheering for the narrow escape, I let my companions move on to their rightful berths and reach my cabin. The attendant stops me before I can open the door and informs me that my boyfriend has left just a minute ago with the understandable purpose of coming to my rescue. Hurried I write him a text to let him know that I'm back, but with my great relief he appears at the door before I can even press send. Ok, what's done is done, let's go to sleep. I creep into my cabin to avoid disturbing the Japanese girls, and curl up on my berth.
It's a radiant morning when I wake up, and first thing I see a message on my mobile "I FOUND IT WAS STUCK IN THE BOTTOM OF MY BAG I'M SO SORRY". The train is slowing down, time to pack our bags and get ready. Next stop Krakow, and a wonderful breakfast. We earned it!