This was probably the most interesting train ride so far.It came about after the end of exit festival. I had planned to stay an extra night, but the festival organisers put out a warning that there would be a severe storm that night (it turned out that 3 women who camped the extra night were killed by a falling branch during this storm). Not that that bothered me, as an aussie, i’ve had plenty of camping experience in bad weather. What changed my mind was waking in a pile of trash, being welcomed to the start of a 37 degree day. It was, & I felt filthy & figured the best option would be a comfortable 12 hour night train to montenegro. After purchasing my ticket I was rather suprised at the cheapness of the fare,only $35 euros for such a long journey. I did consider upgrading to a sleeping coach, but my ethos of cheap travel prevented this.
Once boarding the train I found a compartment to myself, but was soon kicked out by a mother with 5 children, so quickly chose to find another cabin. After searching a fast filling train, I eventually found one occupied by a sole traveller, and after some negotiation, in broken serbian z/english,he decided it was ok for me to share with him. He spoke no english, was very drunk & was travelling with only a plastic bag of possessions. Soon the cabin began to fill & I found myself travelling with this strange guy, a serbian bikie woman, a scientist (the only one who could speak english so he translated as best as he was able), another drunk & a woman who said nothing, but cluched a bottle of vodka close to her chest, taking the occassional sip, no rather swig.
The trainride turned out to be one of the trashiest experiences of my life, rather fitting for my post exit comedown. The train was literally falling apart, & so overloaded that people we’re sleeping on the filthy floors of the train hallways. The window of our compartment was broken open, & it was during this storm that we all came together to try to fix it. The drunken serbs chose to tear pieces of wood from the train in an effort to prop the window closed, & only after they gave up did I come to the rescue,using some of my backpack rope to tie the window closed using knots my uncle showed me as a child. This resulted in cheers from my cabinmates all chanting ‘aussie aussie aussie’. & then we slept. I was suprised at the closeness of the serbs, we all cuddled up, arms and legs entertwined in an effort to catch some sleep.
It turned out that the strange guy clutching the plastic bag was fresh out of prison, which explained why the border police consistantly gave him a hard time,searching his few possessions everytime they checked for passports. As the train emptied I was left alone with the scientist, who spoke rather good english & I had a great chat about life & politics with him.
& yes the trainride was amazing. It snaked through hundreds of mountain tunnels and as the light grew I realised that we were also travelling across bridges spanning valleys at least 100 metres high. It was without a doubt one of my most memoriable trainrides ever & I left having a special place in my heart for rowdy serbs.