Why going by train is always fun
written by Elisabeth Mansel in Croatia on Saturday, the 26 August 2017, last update on Tuesday, the 29 August 2017
On the website of the German train company is written, that you should announce your tandem, if you want to take it into a train. There was our first problem. We tried to announce it, but they didn't do anything. They weren't informing the train drivers or asking them, if a tandem would fit in. Frieder also wrote an email to the Slovenian train company, asking them if it was possible to carry a tandem by train. They answered him, that it was not possible. Well, we already had a ticket so we wanted to give it a try. We took one train earlier in Dresden, so we won't miss our first connection train in Hof. I hoped for escalators in Hof, but there were only elevators. So we put all our luggage in the lift and carried the tandem down and up the stairs without luggage. It was also a test how fast we could be. We needed 15 minutes to change the track. That were 5 minutes more then we would have in Villach to change trains. We prayed that track 2 and 3 would be on the same platform. Changing trains in Munich was easy, because it is a terminus. When we arrived at the train, there was a man standing in the door helping people to get their bycicles in and out of the train. He also helped us. I wondered why he did this. Only when I got into the train, I understood, why. There was a second "normal" tandem in the train, which belonged to this man. The conductor wasn't happy about a second tandem and we told him, that noboby wanted to inform the train drivers, that we travel with a tandem.
In this train we met a lot of people, who were traveling with a bicycle. Some of them also needed to get a train in 10 minutes in Villach. We thought we were lucky because we hadn't to get to another platform. The conductor of our next train saw us and yelled: "What an ufo! That doesn't fit in my train!" I had a look into the train and we agreed. Our tandem would never fit in that train. There was a small long floor, after which you had to go around a corner to get into the bicycle compartment. No change to get in there with unseperated tandem. I asked him, if he could help us, that we could take the next train. Then he said: "Ah, just get it in here and separate it in two parts while driving." So we got into the train. Our tandem was blocking the train, standing from one door to the other one. It was not easy to divide it while the train jog along the rails. After one hour instead of 20 minutes the tandem was split in two parts and in the bicycle compartment.
Next stop: Ljubljana. We planned to stay the night in Ljubljana. Because of the separated tandem we spent the night at the train station. One of us was staying awake while the other one could sleep some houres. When it was my turn to sleep, I was always waking up and watching people, who passed by. So I was tired, exhausted and in a bad mood.
In the moring our train was standing on the track since 5 am but the doors were closed. Our sleeping place was next to the bicycle compartment, but when we wanted to get in the train it was moving along the track, so we had to bring all our stuff 10 meters further to the entrance of the bicycle compartment and we had no tandem to carry it all. When the conductor had a look on our tickets, he told us, we needed to get to the very first compartment (which had no place for bicycles), because only the first compartment will continue to drive to Croatia and cross the border. At the border I hurried up to move all our stuff to the first compartment. I was so exhausted and sad that the conductor as well as a police man helped me to carry all our stuff. When we arrived in Rijeka it took us again one hour to put the tandem back together.