Sleeping overnight on a train has always been a sort of travel-goal of mine, so when my travel buddy and I decided to take the overnight train from Rome to Paris, I was excited. Cramped quarters? No problem! I was going to fall asleep in one country, and wake up in another – what could be bad about this?
Actually nothing! Even the train porter was very helpful – although we had a little bit of a translation issue. He came to help us convert our seats into bunks, but we all just got loss in a mess of hand signs and meaningless words. After about two or three minutes of actually trying to communicate with each other in this manner, he gave an exasperated sigh, put down his checklist and deftly pulled down our bunks for us. Thanking him profusely, we expected him to leave, but he didn’t. Fearing another hand-signaling war, we grabbed our guide books and started looking for Italian words that would vaguely resemble something along the lines of “can we help you?” or “how are you?” – even the phrase “can I have a cheese sandwich?” would have been more helpful than saying nothing at all. Thankfully though, after a brief pause, he simply said “passport?” (thank the travel gods for inventing such an internationally used word!), instantly dissolving any need for us to memorize the Italian section of my Europe for Dummies guide.
Aside from this brief (and comedic) little interaction, the night passed swiftly. The rocking of the train was calming, and the surrounding compartments quiet. Thanks to a sturdy door lock, I felt absolutely safe (something very important to me), and we got into Paris bright and early in the morning, just in time to grab a fresh baguette and get on with the sight-seeing!