I left Copenhagen station last night on the night train to Amsterdam. If you’ve never taken a night train you have two main options. I sitting car or a sleeper car (couchette), Don’t even get me started on the commuter car option (basically it’s not one, you don’t want it). For the first few stops, I had the room to myself and thought I was a pretty lucky guy. Somewhere in rural Denmark, I was joined by a young almost-college aged kid who was going to his first trip to Amsterdam. His english was just good enough for me to realize that he wasn’t there to see the canals. He was an amiable guy and after awhile I went to the shower room to charge my devices.
When you take the German trains on an overnight trip, sometimes you have modern trains and sometimes you don’t. If you’re lucky enough to be on an old-style train, don’t be surprised if the conductors are a bit grumpy when you ask where you can find an outlet. They’re just as tired of people asking as people are of asking the question.
In any event, I worked for a few hours on this and that before finding to my surprise that the pile of clothes just past the two old German women who had joined us was in fact, another traveler. I rousted him from my seat and joined him. Even though only one of them spoke English, I could somehow understand what they were saying in German better than the Danish kid could understand either of us in English or Danish. We slept intermittently and woke each time the train stopped, made some dumb jokes and fell asleep again.
At one point the German Police entered the train station with their dogs and began sniffing all over the place and waking people up by knocking on the compartments to tell them that everything was “under control” and we have “nothing to fear”. I’m not sure how that sounds to German speakers, but armed law enforcement waking you up and telling you you have “nothing to fear” while keeping trained bomb-drug-bacon sniffing dogs on a leash is something sure to make most right-minded people in a state of not only fear, but confused fear that you can only truly experience while you’re not quite sure whether you’re awake or asleep.
At this point, one of the little old ladies jumped up and exclaimed the first clear thing in English I’d heard her say all night, “I’m going to go find OUT what’s REALLY going on! I’m a person who has to KNOW these things!!!” (the exclamation marks were clearly audible in her excited tone of voice).
In any case, things quieted down at this point and after we were joined up to another train going to Amsterdam somewhere in Germany, I found a luxury couchette (2-person, not 6) and an outlet to charge my things as I got some sleep. The conductor was very nice (it was a Czech train) about letting me rest there since they hadn’t sold out and even gave me a bottle of water for it.
I was rewarded with an extra hour of sleep due to a miscommunication between the dutch railway authorities and the German train company. I arrived at noon, on a damp grey day and was rewarded with tea, a shower and a warm bed to sleep in when I arrived at my host’s house.