As most people say about life: The journey is the destination.
Or a huge chunk of life, at least. Imagine just eyeing your great goal and then forgetting everything else happening at that moment. I now realize that this also applies when traveling. We often just see photos or videos of travellers once they reached that coveted Instagram-worthy tourist spot, but how often does one enjoy and write (or vlog) about how they slept in airports, or how they still made sure to do their nightly skincare in a small cubicle toilet of a sleeper train, or went claustrophobic seating on a tiny reclinable chair of a night bus?
When I look back to these in-transit travel moments, I cannot imagine how I survived with just the bare minimum!
Especially for our Eastern Euro trip. I think one of our most unforgettable hours include our sleeper train to Germany. And it is not just any overnight train or bus which I already did in Japan, it's a train that goes through a SHIP!!!
We said goodbye to Sweden at around 6am. We left our hostel before anyone else, and had our breakfast in a random convenience store that we chanced upon on one of our terminal stops. I just bought a large cup of hot americano, and finished the leftover pizza I had last night from Gamla Stan.
We were on-the-go for the whole morning, hopping from buses and trains with our huge bags in tow. I had no right to complain so I just kept quiet and go about with my usual photo taking and Instagram stories. I was on auto-pilot mode just following my Ate aka the planner / navigator. By the middle of all the transfers, I knew she was already tired but it was so hard to help out when you are clueless huhu.
They always have restrooms inside their trains, which was so convenient for all the long rides. If you're curious, they all look like the ones in airplanes.
By 4pm, we have finally reached Malmo, still a part of Sweden, where we're going to take our sleeper train.
For this stop, we finally had time to eat our super late lunch since we had longer waiting time before boarding. We also had the chance to meet my cousin living in Malmo when she learned about our stopover. She took us to a short tour just outside the train station, showing us around the pier. I hope we'll have a longer time in this coastal city when we go back to Europe!
Our late lunch of choice: Chinese food!!! Finally had rice and noodles again after a week!
Our cousin teaching Ate how to properly carry huge backpacks! She did all the straps adjustments like a pro, hehe!
And because we're tourists! Hahaha!
Cousin happily obliged with her selfie-loving Pinoy relatives, haha!
She also walked us to our sleeper train, which she explained is a cool experience for her as these trains still look "vintage". We had to get in our cabin first so we can pick a nice spot before everyone else does, which is the upper bunk. "You do not want anyone sleeping over you, right?" haha!
She also bought ice cream sticks for us, watched us settle on our cabin (while low-key eyeing our cabin mate who arrived early, haha!), and waved as our train finally moved to our longest city-transit for this trip.....
WELCOME TO THE SLEEPER TRAIN!
Madaming surprises for this trip, but the sleeper train ang pinaka hindi ako ready! I had a hard time taking pictures while inside our tiny cabin out of respect for our cabin mates, but imagine a tiny room FOR SIX PEOPLE ..... AND OUR BAGS. HAHA!
When Ate and I got in the coach, our room is still as it is, hindi pa naka setup as beds. With that, you can still sit facing each other, three persons for each side. Ate and I sat facing each other by the door, and grabe guys nacclaustro ako ng bongga! Haha!
I went out for the loo and to breathe lels, and made sure to check out the other rooms. Ganun din talaga! Maliit! What I like about our roomies though is that isa couple tapos isa dad and daughter--so feeling safe naman kami. BUT nafeel namin ni Ate na parang wala silang balak mag set-up ng beds and it's almost getting dark! :p
Number signs on the door so you'll know if it's your coach:
Here's how a room looks like once naka-set up na ang beds. Sayang wala akong photo nung before nyan, as in purely upuan lang na magkaka harap. Bed sheets and pillows were on the top bunk. Nung una hindi pa namin mahanap yang hinayupak na metal ladder na yan para maka akyat, haha! Out of impatience (and dahil nadin sa pagod), Ate and I became so proactive and asked around the other coach how they fixed their beds LELS.
May tiny table which obviously hindi na namin nagamit ni Ate. Nandito yung mga sockets so hindi nadin kami naka charge ng gadgets that night, hoho.
Maximize lang talaga of the tiny space. I cannot imagine if I carried with me my usual maleta hahaha! Buti nalang two big bags lang, na nabuhat ko pa pataas. Again, we were warned about pickpockets in Europe so we made sure secured our bags lalo na matutulog kami dito.
I think it was about past 6pm when the train stopped. Ate and I peeped outside, and saw that we're inside a bodega yun pala nasa ilalim na kami ng SHIP!
Our roomies (lol close na kami) told us that everyone's required to go out kahit na sa totoo lang gusto nalang namin ni Ate mag stay sa train, mag setup, at matulog. But seeing the people going out and climbing the stairs, we obliged. Do we have to bring our bags? The dad in the group said that all the coach will be locked so no need na, just our valuables lang.
And so we followed the crowd outside the train, and up the bodega to the boat!
May buffet sila! You have to pay though, and bilang wala na kaming Swedish Kronas we decided to just check out the canteen.
Finished all my Kronas and was able to buy a yoghurt drink, a tub of canned fruits, and a small apple pie.
Alam mong first timers kami coz we didn't notice ang bibilis ng mga tao para may matambayan sila! Haha! Seats were limited, most of the spots on the ship's deck were already occupied, but with luck nakahanap kami ng empty table outside the canteen.
Ate decided to just stay here because she's tired:
With my earphones and Korean OSTs, I had a tiny bit of energy to go around the ship and check out what it offers. They have a souvenir shop flocked with people! Medyo mahal naman paninda so I just went around. They sell overnight essentials and usual stuff found in duty free centers. They also have a gaming room, a pre-reserved seating movie room, and of course the outdoor area if you prefer a view of the sea.
I guess my favorite part is outside, on the ship's deck, at libre lang doon mag emote hehehe and people watch. Eventually nawala nadin internet ko and I knew we're in the middle of the sea already.
Some observations while onboard: Walang Pilipino, and mostly Koreans and Chinese ang fellow Asians namin and they're in the buffet area. Nobody's there to waste time tinkering with their phones--they are either sleeping outside, playing card games with their friends, or TALKING to one another. Sa totoo lang, sobrang basic pero sobrang impressed ako!
I went up to the highest area we're allowed to go to just to listen to my music and take pictures. It's a nice hot summer day in the middle of nowhere. :)
When I went back inside, I saw Ate looking for me and explaining to me the Prebooked Chairs section where they have reclining seats and a movie playing. Pwede ka pala pumasok doon as chance passenger, just check the paper by the door makikita mo yung hindi nabook na chairs that anyone can occupy.
So I stayed there as the sun was setting beautifully ....
When we were asked to go back to our rooms, everyone hurriedly went down again kung hindi maiiwan sila sa boat (haha). Again, nauna sa amin ang mga roomies namin and sobrang nafrustrate na kami ni Ate that they haven't set-up yet... So as mentioned earlier naging proactive na kami and just initiated the fixing.
Tip #1 when you're on the upper bunk--mas better if you finish EVERYTHING you need from sa baba before heading up, kung hindi wala nang babaan. This means going to the toilet na to wash up and change. Alam nyo ba papatay ng kusa yung light ng buong train, so IMAGINE if hindi kami nag setup agad while may lights pa HAHA.
The thing with this sleeper train we're in is that alam mo namang overnight sya, pero walang shower shower rooms. Even nung sa boat waley, toilet and faucet lang talaga. At bilang first timer, we didn't know about this so wa na ligo ligo hanggang huli haha. I was still wearing my clothes from earlier but buti nalang talaga comfortable sya like pajamas.
Anatomy of my upper bunk bed.
There were two makeshift beds pa below me, hindi ko na alam pano nila naset-up yun haha. Sheets and pillows were provided, but ikaw mag seset-up. Make sure you get a kumot dahil kahit mainit during the day, biglang lamig naman that night (air coming from the roof so mas malamig sa amin sa taas). May harang ako sa side na parang net, which I guess to prevent my stuff or AKO mismo mahulog haha. There are small areas for bags on each side, so I made sure to place my two bags there, both locked and just above my head in case. My backpack with my wallet and camera is just right next to my feet.
Tips If You're Going To Ride A Sleeper Train:
1) If you want na makapag change pa, better if you bring your fresh clothes with you pag baba palang sa ship. Have a backpack for all these essentials. Mas mahaba ang time sa boat, plus mas malaki and CR. Bring nadin your toiletries with you so you can comfortably brush your teeth or wash your face.
2) Have extra power banks with you. Ang hirap maki charge, and I think they only have two sockets and not within reach pa when you're on the top bunk. Ayaw ko din naman iwan phone ko sa baba.
3) Bring locks, be extra praning ok lang yan, make sure your bags are close to you lalo if you have valuable items like your wallet, camera or laptop. Also, don't super settle or ikalat your stuff, keep them close to you para madaling bumaba at wala kang maiiwan lalo na bagong gising when you reach Berlin.
4) Bring snacks and water on your small backpack.
5) And lastly, you can do it! Endure it!! Ilang oras lang yan ng walang ligo or palit ng clothes. Charge everything to experience.
Honestly, I was able to sleep like a baby once we were settled. There's a quick passport check in the middle of the night, I guess it was when we're entering Germany. I think I woke up about twice lang, first was nung biglang lamig and shaky ng train so I adjusted my kumot, and second was when the PA system announced our arrival to Berlin.
To be continued....