Girls Who Ride Trains (or Don’t)

“The train’s not there!  It’s supposed to be here.  The tracks are on the map!” 

It was a winter night in Poland, and it was f-ing colder than any other place I’ve ever been.  The train that my travel partner and I were supposed to take to Ukraine no longer existed.  It just was no longer there.

And then my friend lost it.  I mean really lost it. This cool, calm, collected girl who could take anything (except no trains), just completely lost her marbles.

“No train…NO train. NO TRAIN!”

Yep.  No train.

In times like these, there is only one thing you can do.  Buy mulled wine from a street vendor, read Polish poetry from the book in your bag, sing a silly song, and jump up and down.  Bonus points if the street vendor will take a picture of you jumping and laugh.

It was quite hilarious to me, my adorable friend, throwing a tantrum walking down the streets of Krakow because the train that was supposed to be there just wasn’t. And she was pissed.

We all throw these the-train-is-supposed-to-be-here tantrums (mine take the form of this-is-the-most-f-ing-cold-place-I’ve-ever-been).  We have a plan dammit!  We want to ride trains that say they will come!

Now any traveler worth his or her salt knows that plans never actually work out.  But generally you miss the train.  Usually it, at bare minimum, exists.  There was an explanation, we just didn’t have enough Slavic vowels under our belts to even begin to comprehend.

It never occurred to either of us that it simply would not exist, and we’d have to find another way, and that way would just happen to be one of the best days of our entire journey.  And from this I learned, sometimes, even though they say there is a train, the train is just not there.  And there’s not much you can do about a train you want to ride that will most definitely never come. Sometimes No train…No train. NO TRAIN! is the best thing that can happen to you, you just don’t don’t know it yet.

So what did we do?  Took a bus that almost drove away with our packs, walked to Slovakia, ignored the creepy dudes saying strange things to us from a house where we waited for hours for a hitch, hitchhiked with a guy who liked Megadeath, hitchhiked with a guy who barely spoke but took us to the bus station, took a bus to Ukraine, got in a car with our friends, and passed through the border to a comfy former Soviet home and a welcome shot of vodka.  Three countries, three languages, and a lot of epic adventuring in the course of a day.  And that day was one of our most amazing of a 2 ½ month journey.

Girls who ride trains get it.  We ride them right through the split of the countryside.  We view life from our window seats looking forward and back.  We see the shortcuts through the borders.  We find freedom knowing we’ll fall asleep in one country and wake up in another.

Girls who don’t ride trains also get it and find other ways.  We stick out our thumbs and are taken through the highways by Slovakian men who love death metal.  We drink cold coffee on the side of snowy roads waiting for a hitch.  We navigate to destinations in languages we can’t even begin to understand, and yet we somehow get where we are going.

Because even when the train is not there, we’ll find another way.

Take a train lately?

Image credit: Tab Tuhin

3 thoughts on “Girls Who Ride Trains (or Don’t)

  1. are you kidding? one of the best days of my entire south american trip was the day that you and i hitch hiked with those clothes smuggelers into…where the hell did we end up?(how ON EARTH did we have no money? no atms?) was that the day that we crossed some border and drank beers by the river with the immigration police guys? traveling with you is absolutely magical miss natasha!


    • And remember those soldiers thought I didn’t speak Spanish. That was a pretty epic day. Can we do it again sometime, soon?


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