That’s right. We caught the 11 hour long night train heading to Bucharest!We chose to stop in Sighișoara for a few days though. Follow my mini diary of what happens on a night train and you’ll see whether it’s your bag or not.
Friday 6th June 2014
When purchasing tickets for Hungarian travel, be sure to check if there is not a discounted “fortuna” fare for your route. If there is, it significantly decreases the price of your travel. The trip from Budapest in Hungary to Sighișoara in Romania should have cost 98 euros for the two of us, but by booking at least 5 days in advance we were able to slash that price to 38 euros. At least it would have been if I hadn’t accidentally booked the tickets for the wrong day.
Which brings me to my next point, DOUBLE CHECK YOUR DETAILS AND DATES BEFORE CLICKING “BUY!” The Mav-Start Hungarian train ticket site does not have anywhere to check your details after you click “BUY” so make sure you have selected the right date at the very beginning.
The fortuna tickets are non-refundable, so that was £30 down the drain. Don’t make the same mistake.
Catching the train from Budapest Keleti train station was quite easy. We used a transport ticket (HUF350) to get to the station from Isabella Utca and entered at the side. There are two screens, make sure you are looking at the left screen as the right is Arrivals, not Departures. We were stood for quite some time watching the Arrivals.
I then wondered if we had specific seats that we needed to find on the train, and if so which number on this god damn ticket was a seat number?! We ventured down to the information point (which as you enter the station from the front is immediately on your right) and they said this:
|Kocsi = car number Helysz = seat number
We then waited some more at the front entrance, watching the big Departures screen. Our train finally arrived at platform 7. Following our new ticket information we tried to find our car, number 425. We found 423, and the restaurant car and the couchettes. But finding 425 seemed REALLY hard, until we realised that each car did actually have a number on it, though some had fancy led screens and some had poorly hand written signs. Finding our seat was easy. The second class seats are made up of four seats facing each other with a table. We had that whole four seat area to ourselves for the duration of the trip.
|Mike in our VERY PRIVATE second class four seat
We were due to leave at 7:10PM (Hungarian time) on Friday and arrive at 7:18AM (Romanian time, which is an hour ahead) on Saturday morning. We didn’t leave until 7:30PM, but the delay didn’t bother us. It meant less time in Sighișoara before everything opened for breakfast. Plus check-in wasn’t until 10AM Saturday morning.
@ 7:37PM We were already having washes with my handy face wipes. Getting to the station with our backpacks and extra Carbon Dioxide cannisters (oh, didn’t I mention we’re now professional gas cannister mules?) was a sweaty affair.
@ 8:35PM I needed the toilet. It was bad. The first three toilets I visited were full of poo and wouldn’t flush. One toilet appeared to be leaking all over the floor. EUGH! (pronounced EUGHYEEER! A la Auntie Sandra style). The last toilet, 3 cars along from my seat, had a broken lock, but at least walking this far gave me a glimpse of the sleeper cabins and the couchettes. God, they looked cosy.
@ 9:10PM We came across our first station and realised there was no way of knowing where the hell we were… how were we going to know when to get off?
@ 9:15PM We started to feast on our rations of sammiches.
@ 9:35PM Another station. I had also looked through all of my pictures by now and I had a sudden pang of homesickness. I started weeping, unattractively to London Grammar.
@ 9:45PM Another station. It is pitch black. I had no idea where we were.
@ 9:55PM I needed the toilet again.
@ 10:00PM I fell asleep.
@ 10:55PM Someone shouted “PASSPORT!” at me, and I do as I am told. Once he leaves, I figure that we are at the Hungarian border check point.
@ 11:35PM I was woken up again by a Romanian official wanting to see our passports. I don’t actually remember falling asleep between the two, but I must have done. She asked if we were tourists in Romania. I assumed we were.
@ 11:50PM We were still waiting at the Romanian border check point.
[+ 1 hour time difference]
@ 1.00AM Our second ticket check of the night. I don’t remember when the first one was, but this was definitely the second.
@ 2:00AM A Romanian beggar started pulling on Mike’s heart strings. I told him to put his head phones in and go to sleep. I was happy to watch the bags.
@ 2:45AM The Romanian beggar had fallen asleep while pestering a Canadian Tourist two seats in front. The tracks on this side of the border are very bumpy and I still don’t know how we will know when to get off.
@ 3:30AM The Romanian beggar has been kicked off the train.
@ 3:40AM Another ticket check.
@ 6.40AM I woke up to find Silent Hill outside my window.
|Trundling through Transylvania on the sleeper train
@ 8:00AM A ticket inspector tells us that Sighișoara is the next stop. I have this feeling he wouldn’t have if I hadn’t asked so many times where we were. Turns out the stop before Sighișoara is Mediaș, so if the train starts slowing down and you’ve already passed this station you should start gathering your stuff.
@ 8:10AM We arrived in Sighișoara. There was ominous fog everywhere, the train station was dilapidated and there were no maps. Help.
It wasn’t a horrible end to the story though. We asked the nice lady at the train station office and her English was very good. She gave us directions to our hostel and reassured us that Sighișoara is a small town and we can’t get lost.
Our hostel was a mere 5 minute walk from the station, which was lovely. When we arrived the hostel receptionist (and owner I think) gave us the keys right away to the bungalow/shed we were staying in. She told us to pay for our stay later, once we were settled.
|Private bungalows at Aquaris Camping site
We slept until 2PM.
The next post is like… a testiment to how awesomely cheap Sighișoara is. So if you’re looking to visit here for a holiday, just check out Moomads for the prices of beer, forks and postcards.