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18 replies
Night Train Experience in Eastern Europe
mirandalee
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Hey all,
maybe you could share some Night Train experiences in Eastern Europe. My guide book (Let’s Go) suggests not taking night trains between Munich-Prague, Krakow-Munich, Krakow-Prague etc.
Western Europe was fine for us at night time…nothing bad seemed to happen around us…but I’m worried for Eastern, but I don’t want to waste valuable sight-seeing time on a train in the day time.
Suggestions?

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I’ve think I’ve taken the Krakow-Prague train at night. I definitely took one at night from…I think it was Budapest-Krakow. I was with a boy so I felt fine, on my own it could maybe be a bit dodgy but not overly so ( I went about 4 yrs. ago though so my memory of these rides isn’t great&nbspWink.
 
What I remember about getting into Krakow at night is the signs are confusing ( I think certain stops had no sign ). With it dark it was very hard to figure out when to get off and there weren’t really people around and awake to ask.
 
You should be able to find someone in your hostel ( if you’re staying at a hostel ) who will be going the same route.

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Look up the train schedules.  I took the 6:50am train from Munich to Prague and arrived by 12:30.  It was a great ride and I wanted to see the countryside. Also did a night train along time ago.  Being a large male, I had no problems. But I have seen many problems firsthand on night trains. Nowadays, always travel with friends to be on the safe side.
Pick pockets are on the rise throughout Europe and even at Disneyland and Venice Beach in California.  Don’t be afraid – BE AWARE!
Last summer I caught many thieves reaching into purses and backapacks while travelers were walking down public sidewalks, looking at the sites and window shopping.  These thieves would not brake their stride and unzip bags as you walk.  They are very good.  Just move daypack/backpack, shoulderbags and purses around to your chest so no person can enter your bag and you won’t have any problems.  Don’t bring valuables that you don’t want stolen and you will have less stress on your trip.

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I’ve taken overnight trains in both Western and Eastern Europe.  I’ve never had a problem, but I usually don’t get a good night’s sleep.  Arriving in a strange city at morning rush hour when you can’t check into a hostel until mid afternoon is disorienting and uncomfortable when all you want is a shower and a nap.  I limit overnight train trips to a max of 2 a week — 1 a week is better.

mirandalee
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Sleeping on the train is not the issue for me, it doesn’t bother me at all…in fact I like it. It’s the safety issue on the train in Eastern Europe that I’m worried about. I’ve heard about a lot of “gassings” and so on. If I hear from enough people that it wasn’t an issue than I’ll think about booking two or three night trains on our trip. I’m going with another female, and our safety is first and foremost. I remember a couple of our night trains having locks on the door….hopefully this will be the case again. Hmmm…. 

luv_the_beach
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Quote:
ORIGINAL: mirandalee

Sleeping on the train is not the issue for me, it doesn’t bother me at all…in fact I like it. It’s the safety issue on the train in Eastern Europe that I’m worried about. I’ve heard about a lot of “gassings” and so on. If I hear from enough people that it wasn’t an issue than I’ll think about booking two or three night trains on our trip. I’m going with another female, and our safety is first and foremost. I remember a couple of our night trains having locks on the door….hopefully this will be the case again. Hmmm…. 


The gassings are an urban legend.

Let’s Go‘s advisory about night trains in Eastern Europe does not mention anything about gassings.  If gassings were a problem, the guidebooks would have mentioned it.  Travel&nbspublications request readers to&nbsprovide feedback on anything that may need to be updated, including crimes and scams.  If they receive enough reports about a particular scam or occurence, they then publish an advisory to warn future readers of that threat. 

Aside from the fact that the travel guidebooks do not mention anything about gassings, the night-train gassing story fits the typical profile of an urban legend.  For starters, it’s something that you hear about through word of mouth within the backpacker’s circuit (heard it from someone who met someone who…) and never from the mainstream news media.  And secondly, these stories always take place either in Eastern Europe (Poland, Czech Republic, etc) or in Italy, reflecting a North American xenophobia towards Eastern European and Southern European countries (an urban legend almost always reflects a society’s inherent beliefs, fears, or&nbsprejudices).  If these gas robbers really did exist, then they’d be committing these crimes all over Europe, given how incredibly easy it is to travel around this relatively small continent in the age of EU, Schengen, and cheap airfares; if the mob, drug dealers, illegal migrants, and human traffickers have managed to penetrate every European country, then gas-using robbers would have done the same.  And if gassing was an effective way to rob someone, then the method would have spread worldwide.  Let alone the medical training and equipment required to put someone under anaesthesia without killing them.  Thus, not only does the gassing story fit the typical profile of an urban legend (that’s been around for ages), but it isn’t even plausible.

The worst thing that might happen to you on a night train is petty theft while you sleep.  This is a reality, so either take creative precautions to avoid it, or don’t take night trains.

No one’s gonna gas you, and while such stories float around the backpacker circuit, there is no documented evidence of such an occurrence.  Someone once posted here at Eurotrip claiming that it happened to him, but the only thing that did happen (if his story is true) was that someone stole his wallet while he was sleeping.  When he got off the train, someone suggested to him that he was gassed, and he believed it.  You can read the whole thread span>including how we completely debunked his claims right here:  http://www.eurotrip.com/forum/tm.aspx?m=122482


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mirandalee
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Well, I’m glad to see that no one has messaged back with horror stories. I was just looking out for our safety. I had a feeling that these “gassing” stories were for the most part make-believe, just thought I would throw it out there….
Night trains it is!
I’ll use my money belt under my clothes and close to my chest with my passport, money, etc., and strap my backpack to my ankle at the side of the bed furthest from the door, with zipper locks in place. zzzzzz………

Did anyone else find that waking up in a different country was the STRANGEST feeling ever? I remember arriving in Barcelona for the first time, at 6 am still groggy as can be, and having a man run up to me yelling “FIRE FIRE FIRE”. I was looking around to see where the nearest fire exit was…turns out he just wanted a lighter….heehee….Germany was an interesting country to arrive in if you’d never heard the language before…oh memories…

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I love that temporary sense of confusion mixed with euphoria that you get when you first arrive in a new country, or even going back to countries I’ve been to or even lived in before, and then again when I return to the US after being gone for so long.  I guess it’s that traveler’s high that we all so crave, and you get it not from the obvious things like different food and different language, but from little subtle things like different door knobs, different ways that people write their 1’s or their 2’s or 7’s, and so on…. 

On the night trains: yeah, just be creative.  And most importantly: have a back-up plan should your things get stolen.  Make sure you have the phone numbers for your banks should your credit/debit/ATM card(s) get stolen, write it down somewhere, and keep it in a safe place.  And make sure you have your banks’ international numbers…not the 800 numbers which probably won’t work from outside USA/Canada.  Maybe have emergency travelers’ checks in your left shoe, and a small amount of emergency cash in the right shoe…or in your underwear.  Make sure you write down the phone number to call should your travelers’ checks get stolen.  Have 2 photocopies of your passports, should those get stolen.  Another suggestion I heard is: sleeping in shifts, if&nbspossible.
 
Packer brought up a good point (mentione\ing Disneyland, Venice Beach, and Europe)..wherever there’s a lot of tourism, there’s considerable pickpocketing going on.  So, don’t be afraid, just be aware.  

As for personal safety (violence, etc): you’re definitely not traveling to any country that’s particularly worrisome.  But do exercize common sense, and the same precautions as you do at home.  A suggestion I always have for women in particular (no matter what part of the world you’re in): travel in groups after dark. 

But don’t worry, you won’t get gassed. 

And oh yeah: if you hear any stories about baby-throwing gypsies…that’s a myth too.

[Smile]


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Quote:
ORIGINAL: oldlady

I’ve taken overnight trains in both Western and Eastern Europe.  I’ve never had a problem, but I usually don’t get a good night’s sleep.  Arriving in a strange city at morning rush hour when you can’t check into a hostel until mid afternoon is disorienting and uncomfortable when all you want is a shower and a nap.  I limit overnight train trips to a max of 2 a week — 1 a week is better.

 
I’m with you on this one! When I was in Germany by myself last summer the thing I noticed the most was THERE ARE NO F*****G BENCHESANYWHERE!!!! When I roll into a new city and have a ton of time to kill, the first thing I need to do to keep my sanity is sit down somewhere in the station, eat some crusty vittles, and study the hell out of my map. This is very hard to do when the only place you can sit is the friggin’ ground with people walking all around you. It wouldn’t even be a big deal if like, I was able to sleep while on a train, but it’s basically constant noise, and if your journey is anything less than 8 hours, you’re pretty much screwed in the sleeping department. Probably the worst for me was Dresden to München… I swear to god that “night train” only took like 4 hours haha.
 
Anyway, yeah Smile Gassings and whatnot are pretty much urban legends as far as I know. Your main concern should just be keeping track of your shit; never EVER EVER EVER take your money belt off on a train, and if you can’t use your bag as a pillow, at least put it between you and the wall. I doubled my protection by always having it connected to my beltloop while sleeping, but then i’m a worrier Wink hehe…. the way I figured it, if by slim chance someone tried to grab my bag, I was coming along for the ride []

I am traveling for 51 days
Bath, Haltwhistle, London, Füssen, Freiburg, Stuttgart, Speyer, Nördlingen, Salzburg, Hallstatt, Salzburg, Rome, Ostia Antica, Athens, Delphi, Athens
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I’ve taken night trains from Germany into Zagreb before and had no problems.  THe only problem you might have is getting woke up at the boarder, but some trains handle this by keeping your passport like hotels do and giving it back in the AM. 

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Yeah I had that happen before… it was disconcerting, to say the least.

I am traveling for 51 days
Bath, Haltwhistle, London, Füssen, Freiburg, Stuttgart, Speyer, Nördlingen, Salzburg, Hallstatt, Salzburg, Rome, Ostia Antica, Athens, Delphi, Athens
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my brother had just been robbed in the train, near Budapest. It was an evening-night train from Wien.

Money missing and also had to cancel the credit card.

Just beware!
 

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Was he not wearing his moneybelt?

I am traveling for 51 days
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udem74, thanks for the warning. Sorry this happened to your brother.
 
Can you provide some details about what happened?

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I have traveled approximately two lenghts of the Equator on board the East European night trains. Never a problem.

A good thing to know is, that there are actually three ways to travel on these trains: In a bed, in a couchette or sitting on a seat. The difference between a couchette and a bed is important. Bed is more expensive.

The couchette is a car with standard compartments with glass wall to the corridor, in a daytime carrying 6 to 8 seats and in the night, 6 beds can be pulled from the walls, upper, middle and lower on both sides. The compartment can be locked with a lock and with a chain, but the lock can be unlocked from the outside by rail personnel and also by thieves. The couchettes are sold randomly, not according to sex of passengers. The passengers obtain clean sheets and pillows from the conductor (present in each car) and have to make their beds themselves, also, in the morning, they have to return the sheets to the conductor. Inside it looks like this:
http://www.slovakrai…


While

A bed-car has compartments with wooden or plastic wall to the corridor (you cannot see through it and it cannot be broken), they only have three beds per compartment, on the other side there is a small wardrobe and a sink with hot and cold water and a mirror. It can be locked by two locks and a chain and CANNOT BE OPENED from the outside, even by the rail personnnel. Patrons are placed to separate compartments according to their sex, a mixed compartment is only possible if you buy all the beds in a compartment. You don’t have to worry about the sheets, the beds are already ready to use when you board the car. Inside it looks like this:

http://www.slovakrai…

So if you are travelling in a BED car, not just a couchette car, you’re perfectly safe. Maybe even too safe, since if you get a heart attack in a locked compartment, no-one will be able to save you

One last note: In Eastern Europe, you may often encounter a language problem at a train station, since rail employees’ knowledge of English is often limited. But all across Eastern Europe, the BED car has the same railway abbreviation: WLAB (stands for Wagon Lit A-B, e.g. sleeping car of both 1st and 2nd class). The COUCHETTE car has Bc abbreviation (stands for 2nd class couchette). So to be sure they sell you a bed, not a couchette, present a small paper with “WLAB” written on it, they will understand that in all countries.

If you have any questions about Prague or Czech and Slovak republics, ask me.
If you only want to search train or bus connection within Czech&Slovakia and/or to neighboring countries, use www.cp.sk or www.idos.cz search engines. For domestic transport, they also show prices.

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I never had much of a problem on eastern European train’s just avoid the toilet’s!*

*note may not be possible on 9 hour train ride’s.

I am leaving from Glasgow, United Kingdom and traveling for 15 days
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Requesting help with Transport, Nightlife, Food, Sights

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Hello!

I traveld on a night train from Prague to Warsaw, Warsaw to Krakow, Ljubljana to Budapest and Ljubljana to Florence and the only problem I had was from Prague to Warsaw when noone could explain to me in english in which vagon I should be, because the trains would split at the border and one half would go to Warsaw and the other to Krakow. But I solved it by moving from one vagon to another at 2a.m. hehe

As far as being woken up at the border is concerned; I prefer it. Better than “someone” keeping my passport.

And about the money/cards/etc: I’ve kept it all in a small backpack and used it as a pillow. I Guess it worked.

Don’t panick, just be reasonable and enjoySmile

t.

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My mom was just gassed and robbed on a night train last week from Brescia to Paris.
She was with her boyfriend and dog. They were all ill for a few days.

I have been researching the topic and spoken to Train people who say this happens very regularly.

My mom had all the symptons that people who have been robbed and believe they have been drugged report.

PLEASE BE VERY CAREFUL!

(PS. I travelled as a backpacker all over easter europe a few years ago and nothing happenned to me… but I looked like a broke backpacker and had nothing of value and was very careful- slept on my bag and had passport and credit card under me.)

Other recent cases on night trains:

Another report of this kind of robbery:
http://community.dis…

Story of a british family two weeks ago, same ordeal: (I have contacted Iain and have his phone number)
http://peacefmonline…

http://www.telegraph…

http://www.dailymail…

http://etravel.org/n…

Hope this is useful,

Alex if you have been victim of such a thing please let me know alexandrapihl@yahoo.com

http://www.dailymail…

Au festival de Cannes- deux bbc presenters drugged and robbed:
http://www.independe…

Other people drugged in hotels:
http://www.telegraph…

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alexandrapihl wrote:
My mom was just gassed and robbed on a night train last week from Brescia to Paris. She was with her boyfriend and dog. They were all ill for a few days.

Can you go into more detail, what exactly happened?

alexandrapihl wrote:
I have been researching the topic and spoken to Train people who say this happens very regularly.

Yes, but you should filter out the word-of-mouth rumors from the more plausible information. Crime and robberies happen. The gassings are an urban legend.

alexandrapihl wrote:
My mom had all the symptons that people who have been robbed and believe they have been drugged report.

So basically, she felt a little queasy, someone suggested to her that she was gassed, and she believed it.

alexandrapihl wrote:

Other recent cases on night trains:

Another report of this kind of robbery:
http://community.discovery.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/321101735/m/4051987329

This story has circulated the internet, and it was posted here at Eurotrip too, as well as countless other travel forum websites, including Lonely Planet’s Thorntree forums, and Tripadvisor.

Several other posters have noted inaccuracies and inconsistencies in the story’s details.

http://www.eurotrip….

http://www.lonelypla…

alexandrapihl wrote:
Story of a british family two weeks ago, same ordeal: (I have contacted Iain and have his phone number) http://peacefmonline.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=23446:britons-drugged-and-robbed-on-train&catid=31:foreign-news&Itemid=60

Do you have a link to the original source?

alexandrapihl wrote:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/4188620/French-train-gang-targets-sleeping-Britons.html

Link doesn’t work.

alexandrapihl wrote:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1193402/British-holiday-family-drugged-robbed-French-sleeper-train.html

I think it’s worth posting this excerpt from the article:

Quote:
‘My wife was absolutely convinced we had been in some sort of drug-induced sleep. By then the thief was long gone.

‘Although the overnight trains don’t make many station stops they tend to pull into sidings and split so different parts of the train join on to other trains and go to other parts of the country.

‘There would have been every opportunity for the thief or thieves to have left when the train stopped.’

Mr Macaskill decided not to report his suspicions about the drugging, explaining: ‘The holiday had got off to a bad start but I didn’t want it ruining all together.

Bearing in mind we don’t speak French and the train manager and police didn’t speak English I thought if I started trying to tell them we would end up having endless questions and having to go to hospital for tests.

‘And we didn’t have any evidence – only our own suspicions knowing what had happened in the past.’

alexandrapihl wrote:
http://etravel.org/news/5146

And, again, let’s post an excerpt:

Quote:
The family reportedly believes thieves sprayed them with a substance to keep them asleep while the robbery took place.

Other passengers abroad the train had also been robbed overnight.

So, several other passengers were also robbed, but none of them felt groggy?

alexandrapihl wrote:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/holidaytypeshub/article-590294/French-lay-bandits-prey-holiday-Britons.html

This robbery did not take place on a train, and no one was gassed in this story.

And, of course, please exercize regular precaution, folks. Please don’t pull over to the side of a road, in a secluded area, especially at 1:30AM, to take a nap. Common sense.

alexandrapihl wrote:
Au festival de Cannes- deux bbc presenters drugged and robbed: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/media/bbc-presenters-robbed-at-cannes-film-festival-652529.html

Excerpt:

Quote:
The BBC last night denied reports in the London Evening Standard that the presenters were knocked unconscious when the thieves placed chloroform-soaked pads over their mouths as they slept.

A BBC spokeswoman said the pair were unhurt but were deeply shocked by the robbery.

She said:“They woke on Monday morning last week to find that cash and jewellery had been stolen from the room where they were sleeping.

“They reported the incident to the local police and then travelled home that day as they had originally planned.

“It was a horrible shock for the girls but fortunately neither was hurt by the ordeal. They both want to put it behind them,” the spokeswoman said.

There was no evidence the pair had been drugged and the door to their bedroom was not forced open, she added.

alexandrapihl wrote:
Other people drugged in hotels: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/france/1445680/Britons-gassed-in-60000-raid-at-French-hotel.html

And again:

Quote:
French police said the couple made no mention of being gassed in their statement to them. But Mr Donner said he did not suspect that he and his wife, Patricia, had been drugged until after they spoke to police.

Quote:
He said yesterday that he would sue the hotel, which denies liability, for not providing adequate security measures. M Boelen, the hotel manager, said: “I have been told by my staff that he did not lock the door of his room. Nothing had been broken into.

“We always have somebody at the main reception throughout the night and he could have left his valuables in our safe.”


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