Friday, July 26, 2013

Sleeping all the way to Copenhagen

Though I have taken my fair share of sleeper trains with mixed experiences (too hot, too cold, too rumbling to sleep, getting up at 3 am to go through immigration), I have always thought this would be fun to do with Zoe. And as I was booking our journey to Copenhagen for the summer holiday, I found fairly decently priced tickets, with the caveat that where Zoe is usually free of cost on the regular train, she cost a 'bed' on this one. I splashed out anyway and thought about it as a fun experience and one that actually fitted this exact journey well: I needed to work all of Thursday but really wanted to be in Copenhagen by Friday morning when my brother and his wife arrived from India. 1300 Skr for oneway tickets in our own little cabin. Not bad.

I picked up Zoe from daycare and immediately told her the surprise: Now we go home, pack our bags and take a taxi to catch a train where we will sleep. When we wake up we will be in… Malmo... (then we take a quick 40 min train to Copenhagen, I quickly added) Zoe was her usually excited self: Now? She asked, Now go see Mormor? Yes, almost now. On the way home we stopped in a new noodle restaurant that deserves a shout-out for its yummy noodles, fair prices, kid-menu and amazing play room: Noodles Mama. We managed to kill the two hours needed.

The train left at 9:30pm, a bit on the late side for Zoe but she was a darling due to all the excitement and graciously held the door for the family entering the train carriage after us, leaving me to haul our luggage down the long hall way. We found our three layered bunk-bed compartment and settled down. Luckily the higher beds had good support for the sides to prevent people from falling out. Still, I wasn't comfortable letting Zoe go up on the top one. I had imagined her sleeping in the lower one and me in the middle one but it was clear that we could fit together in one; besides, the lower one had a hard back cushion that took at least a quarter of the bed width away. We went to brush our teeth in the hallway bathroom which was surprisingly clean. Zoe tossed and turned and pulled the curtain to look out the window three times, insisting on me going down to pick up her doll that she had forgotten in her bag. How could she sleep without? Finally around 10:30 she feel asleep and I decided that I needed my Zs as well. After all the main problem with this train was that it was only 8 hours, barely enough for a full night's sleep. We would get kicked off at 5:40am.

The other problem is that the normal journey is actually only 5 hours. This means that the sleeper train chuckles along at a cow's pace and take lots of breaks. They artificially make it 8 hours for people to get a good night's sleep. I woke up many times as the train halted to a stop and as faster trains rushed by with lightening speed right next to us. But Zoe slept like a baby. And when I had gotten up and dressed around 5:15, she was hard to wake up. She finally sat up and I dressed her in bed. "Come on", I said as she dragged her rucksack down to the exit door. "We need to get off and get on the other train". The other train left from a platform a short walk away, but a walk that was very long for a very tired 3 year old. Zoe sat down and cried at one point but I managed to get her up again. I couldn't carry her because of our big suitcase and two other smaller bags I had to carry too.

We got on the next train and ended up at the local station at my parents'. Both of which were not about to pick us up at 7am, so we walked the 10 minutes home, this time with Zoe being more energetic now that she could see the end of the journey. She told her grand parents with excitement in her voice of the sleeping train and I hope this is not the last time we have been on such travel adventure. Flying does get a bit old sometimes, doesn't it?

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