Predejma Castle, Slovenia

The Final Ride: My European Trip Comes To An End

Derek Romania, Transportation 26 Comments

Predejma Castle, Slovenia
When I went to reserve my seat on what would be my tenth and final train journey of my recent European Eurail Adventure, the woman behind the ticket counter seemed quite confused when I requested a seat on what was labeled as a “Personnel Train”. Over and over again she asked me to verify my choice, pointing at the computer screen and repeating, “Personnel Train? Personnel Train? You want the Personnel Train?” until I had said “yes” at least a dozen times.

Twenty minutes later, as I stood on the train platform waiting for this mysterious ‘Personnel Train’ to arrive, I began wondering if I was about to board a train full of cows and donkeys, or maybe a circus train full of clowns and bearded women, for my ride from Targoviste back to Bucharest.

However, the train that eventually rolled alongside the track was unfortunately not a circus train nor was it involved in any type of farm animal transport. The train actually appeared to be the same as the train that I had taken to Targoviste the day before.

In the end, I really have no idea what the ticket woman was so shocked about as my final train journey turned out to be as comfortable and pleasant as all of the other train journeys in Romania and every other country I visited over the previous two months. And even better, the sun set during this trip, lighting up the entire Romanian horizon in one of those spectacular displays of orange, red, pink and purple that force us to stop for a moment and just appreciate being alive.

Once the sun had disappeared, I spent the rest of my time on the train just staring off into the distance, completely lost in thought as I replayed in my mind the previous nine train journeys that I had taken during this trip.

Train Tickets

TWO MONTHS IN EUROPE

The time passed quickly as I recalled my long ride through the Swiss and Austrian Alps way back at the end of September as well as my trip from Vienna to Ljubljana, Slovenia, a country I had never been to before. I remembered my conversations about Pow-Wow Lip Scrub on the train from Ljubljana to Zagreb, Croatia, a train ride that brought me not only to the Museum of Broken Relationships, but closer to my next destination, Bosnia & Herzegovina, another country I had wanted to visit for quite some time.

From Bosnia & Herzegovina, I had quickly made my way across Serbia before entering Romania, where I began my stay with a full-day train journey from Timisoara to Bucharest. A few days later, I headed north, exploring Transylvania as I traveled by train from Bucharest to Brasov and eventually, from Brasov to Sighisoara and from Sighisoara to Sibiu. And then, I made that decision to turn around and return to Bucharest, where, apart from the two-day trip to the town of Targoviste, I decided to stay put for my final 8 days of this most memorable European adventure.

After replaying the entire journey, it was only natural that by the time this final train ride reached the Gara de Nord train station in Bucharest, I found it quite difficult to leave the car I was sitting in. I was actually the last person off the train as I spent a couple of minutes just enjoying the silence on board and trying to ensure that the memories from my recent travels would stay forever embedded in my mind.

Eventually, I did stand up though, and I collected my backpack and jumped down onto the train platform. And just like that, my two months of European train travel came to an end.

MANY THANKS TO GIVE

Brasov, Romania I certainly wish to thank the fantastic team over at Eurail.com for providing me with such an opportunity to not only explore some more of Europe, but to experience, for the first time during my 12 years of travel, the extensive and efficient train systems on this continent. Having that Eurail Pass in hand certainly made train travel incredibly easy in every country I visited as usually, all I needed to do was show up at the station, check-in at the ticket counter to receive a seat number and board the train. I did not experience a single problem along the way and I can’t imagine traveling across Europe as I did without one of these convenient passes.

I also want to thank all of you, my readers, not only for following along with the journey itself, but for offering your valuable input, recommendations and comments along the way, all of which I read, listened to and took into account wherever I happened to be traveling. Heck, there were even quite a few of you who offered me a place to stay during this trip and even more who I managed to meet up with for a meal or a drink…and for those interactions I am most appreciative.

And while there are still a few more posts about Europe that I plan to write over the coming month or so, if you ever have any travel questions about any of the places I visited on this trip, just let me know. I’m always more than happy to help out as best I can!


While this was my own adventure and my posts are written based upon my own personal experiences, I must make a note that Eurail.com had provided my Eurail Pass for this trip as part of their Blogger Project for 2011.

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Comments 26

  1. Marius

    Peronal (Personnel) Trains are local, meaning they are also the slowest ones to get you to your destination (in Romania) and also the oldest least maintained (thus cheaper than other) trains in Romania. The Blue Arrow is the fastest and most modern and expensive, yet it doesn’t run on all routes.

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  4. Hans Comijn

    Earl,

    you bring back great memories …
    I have visited, by train, most of the cities you mention … and your words evoke the bliss I feel when traveling by train.
    And my god, do I miss Bucharest!

    Thanks,

    Hans

    1. Earl

      Hey Hans – Thanks for reading! Train travel, especially in this region, sure does have a special feel to it. And of course, when you get off the train in Bucharest, especially on the second or third visit, you just want to run off and enjoy this interesting city immediately!

  5. Lily Leung

    Sounds like you really enjoyed your Europe travels. Two months goes by so fast doesn’t it? I took a “Personal” (P class) train in Romania and it was quite the experience. There were lots of people from the countryside, carrying things from pitchforks to scrap metal. The toilet looked worse than an Indian squat toilet, and so rusty that we took photos of it.

    Except the attendant didn’t give me a funny look to warn us it was a local train. Fun times 🙂

    – Lily

    1. Earl

      Hey Lily – If that’s the case, then I think the train must have been switched at the last minute because the one I was on was nothing like that at all. Although, I would have preferred a normal Personal train just for the experience. And yes, two months went by remarkably fast…at least there’s some more adventure planned 🙂

      1. Dan

        Earl, you were lucky. I’m from Romania and I can tell you that “Personnel Trains” are indeed smelly, filled with peasants, are often very crowded, etc. I avoid them if I can.

    1. Earl

      Hey Maria – I’m about to announce my plans for the near future in a day or so…but I’ll say that it begins with a short visit to South Africa 🙂

  6. fotoeins | Henry

    Wow, Earl – it’s already been two months! I remember like it was “yesterday” when you posted/tweeted with great excitement about starting the Eurail trip! You clearly had a memorable fun time, and I’m looking forward to reading more about the places you visited during these last two months.

    1. Earl

      Hey Henry – I know, I was thinking the same thing during the entire flight back to the US. One minute I’m planning my train trip and the next minute it’s over. That’s how it goes I guess and now it’s on to a new set of travels 🙂

      And thanks so much for following along!

  7. Steve C

    Earl, you did a fine job relating your travel experiences during your eurail pass adventure. I think the people at eurail certainly got their money’s worth with your blog! I’ve also used their pass system with equal enjoyment. Did you keep track of the cost you would have spent for all the trips during the pass period and compare it with the cost of the pass, had you purchased one? It’s nice to prove you saved money with the pass, but the real value is the convenience.
    I’m looking forward to your next adventure. I’m kinda thinking you’ll shoot straight for India again, where it’s warm and you’ll be back on “Earls” schedule.

    1. Earl

      Hey Steve – Oh, how I would love to head straight for India right now! You clearly know what goes on in my head! However, I’m actually leaving for a 2 week trip to South Africa on Saturday and then I’m unsure of where I’ll be after that. I’m working on it and hoping to finalize things in the next day or so. But a return to India is absolutely in my plans at some point in the next few months…

  8. Matthew Cheyne

    I really enjoyed these posts of yours from the various places you traveled to while in Europe on top of the posts you usually write. As somebody who loves trains I have a tinge of sadness that your European journey has ended and wonder where to from here? Your webpage shows that you’re currently back in the US at the moment. Are you still thinking about your next journey or are you already on your way? I’d love to know. It was also great to discuss Vipassana with you too 🙂

    1. Earl

      Hey Matthew – I am back in the US at the moment but I’m leaving again on Saturday, heading off to South Africa for a couple of weeks. I’ll be writing more about my plans in a couple of days. Unfortunately, there will be no trains involved with my travels over the next month or so, but I hope you’ll still follow along anyway 🙂

      1. Matthew Cheyne

        Hi Earl. I’ll still be following you trains or no trains 🙂 South Africa should be a nice couple of weeks for you.

        No need for a spoiler alert but I’m guessing that after South Africa you’re probably going to be doing the big Africa trip that you talked about earlier this year. That would explain the lack of trains.

        I’ve never been to Africa but if you get to Kenya I’d love to see a story and pictures from you about Mount Kilimanjaro. It’s the second highest peak on earth but one of it’s approaches is so easy to climb that kids as young as 4 and men and women as old as 87 have been known to climb it.

        The only problem is I don’t recall off hand which approach it is. It could be either the one from Kenya or the opposite one from Tanzania. Either way if I was in the region that’s where I’d be going.

        Regardless of whether you make that region or not I wish you a safe and happy journey 🙂

        1. Earl

          Hey Matthew – Actually, I won’t be sticking around Africa after the S. Africa trip. I have some other plans for the next month or so, but I still plan to spend some significant time in Africa during 2012! And Kilimanjaro will definitely be on my itinerary when I do 🙂 And thanks for following along with my non-train trip!

  9. Dayna

    So great to hear how the trip went. We just visited Slovenia for the first time about a month ago before setting up camp for awhile in Croatia and were absolutely blown away… this part of the world has so much to offer. I’m even more excited to get to Bosnia and Herzegovina now! We’ll hopefully be spending Christmas in Romania as well (yet another place we’re dying to see), so it’s funny that we end up being a few steps behind you the whole way… but beneficial for us as far as getting inspiration for those trips! Keep up the good work. 🙂

    1. Earl

      Hey Dayna – You must keep me posted about your Xmas plans. It actually looks like I’ll be back in Bucharest at that time, so perhaps we can finally meet up! Let me know when you have an idea of where/when you’ll be in Romania!!

      1. Dayna

        Cool! Would be awesome to finally get to meet! There’s a Couchsurfing Travelers’ Christmas in Targu Mures, want to come along? It starts on the 19th and goes til the 25th!

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