The Train Ride From Hell

We arrived at Munich international train station at about 11am and were told by Information it would take 4 trains, and 16 hours to get to Nice, meaning we would be arriving at 6am the following day…Brilliant!

The first train wasn’t leaving for another 2.5 hours so we spent the time trying to work out another way to get there. The cheapest flight I could find leaving that day was €1500 each!… I’m not even sure how that’s possible – who would pay that? Let alone wouldn’t you make the last minute seats cheaper so that you ensure each plane is filled? Anyway, it was confirmed, there was no way out, we were going to have to endure the next 18 hours, awake, to get to Nice.

Finally at 1:30pm we were able to board our first train. It wasn’t till our second train that we actually looked at our timetable for the 4 trains… we were going to have to get off the 3rd train at 1:07am… and the 4th train wasn’t coming till 4:47am… OMG!

We were already tired from getting up at 8am to begin with, and sitting on a train makes you sleepy, add in the uncomfortable seats and the fact that we had to stay alert so as not to miss our stops, the idea of then having a 3.5hr wait at a station at 1am was not at all appealing.

Eventually, we arrived at Ventimiglia Station, exhausted and unsure whether we were in Italy or France. As we got off the train and looked around we started to comprehend what we had got ourselves into… we walked along the dark, outdoor platform in search of the indoor station area. We figured it would be a big lit up station, and that we’d find free wifi to pass the time…

When we reached the end of the platform and saw the opening of the dark, dingy station, my sister’s face of utter terror was priceless. I on the other hand, started laughing hysterically…

We went inside and walked past about 40 or so men sleeping on cardboard, before going back outside to platform 1 which was a little more lit up than the rest of the station. However, those 40 men were now aware of our existence, as well as our bags of luggage… Thankfully, we found a police station on the platform and asked if we could sit inside till our train came. They apologised and said no, because they have to lock the station each time they leave… they suggested we sit outside the door and ring the bell if needed. Then they ushered us out, locked the door and walked away, with batons, to presumably tell the sleeping men to get out of the station…

While they were gone we sat on our packs with our purses tightly gripped over our shoulders. We watched as men did laps of the platform around us. We heard a kafuffle between the men and police… and we waited in the cold. It was a while before we heard anything again, and the police still weren’t back. Being deliriously tired but determined to stay alert we started making up stories about what had happened to the policemen, how the men had captured the police and were getting ready to pounce on us. We made escape plans so we both knew which way to run should the need have arrived, and we listened to music and hummed softly to ourselves… while rocking…

Eventually one of the policemen came back. He was shaking his head and in broken English told us what a bad night it was for him… then he disappeared back into the police station and closed the door.

This only fuelled our imagination more… what had happened to the other cop?!?

Later a female cop arrived – further proving to us that backup had to be called. But finally, the other cop showed up again and we realised we were just being ridiculous.

Finally the time came and we were able to get on our train. The ordeal was over and we had survived unscathed. The moment we got on the next train I passed out and slept the remaining hour and a half to Nice. At 6am we dragged our bags through the ghost town like streets for about 8 blocks, climbed the stairs up to our hostel and collapsed into bed, still in our clothes and slept till the late afternoon.

A Morrison

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