He experienced the horrors of two wars and during this time he also covered an immense geographical area. The trip described in this blog is an attempt to retrace his steps from Prague across the Eurasian continent to beyond Lake Baikal in Siberia. The first part of the trip will follow the precisely described route of Josef Švejk, Hašek's inspired literary creation. I left home on April 30 2010 and was back on October 29.

Sunday 2 May 2010

Bunk beds and hard landings

This post is "off-topic" so readers who follow the blog for the sake of Jaroslav Hašek may well skip the rest.
On the train to Munich
The City Night Line train from Copenhagen to Munich was comfortable, likely to be the most comfortable overnight journey on the whole trip.  However, night trains never provide a good sleep; there are always sounds and creaking noises or other passengers snoring or rummaging about. Sleeping in the upper bunk brings back a few memories: on a train between Szczecin and Warsaw in 1988 a I was sleeping in the lower bunk when I was woken up by a terrified scream. A friend of mine who I was  travelling with had fallen out of the middle bunk. He had dreamt  that he was walking on the wall around the church at Vangsnes, had tripped and was now facing Mother Earth head first. As it happened he almost hit the floor of a Polish railway carriage. Maybe the Devil pushed him over.

Personally I had a similar experience on 22 October 2005, in Mendoza, Argentina (the reader must have me excused for entering into Švejk-like vysvětlíky before I get to the point). That early morning I woke up in the hostel toilet, after having sleep-walked. I had fallen out of the top bunk without waking up and gone on a walkabout in the corridor. I remember hitting the floor in an almighty crash, and an Australian girl who was sleeping on one of the lower bunks exclaimed: "Fucking hell!". I think I would have expressed myself in similar terms if 90 kilos of semiconscious and sozzled matter had descended next to me and woken me up from some wretched dream. I didn't there and then remember what I had dreamt, as I had been indulging in some mediocre Argentine  beer the night before. It must have been a quite few as the hostel receptionist politely and with a grin informed me next morning: Chocaste con la madera. With that he presumably meant that I had collided with a wooden post, and he was probably right.

I had uneasy dreams on the train to Munich also, but none of the sort Gregor Samsa had in Kafka's "Metamorphosis". When I woke up at four I was still a human being, not a huge beetle like poor Samsa. The train had been delayed at Hannover and it was already getting light. It stopped at Fulda, Nürnberg, Ingolstadt and finally at München Hauptbahnhof, a giant station which in parts resembles a shopping mall. Here the traveller can indulge in whatever he desires, from excellent Weisswurst to spiritual consolation at the Bahnhofsmission. If he's lucky he may even spot the odd Lederhosen or Dirndl, and he can even buy the outfit if he so fancies.

This post covers 2 May 2010 (until 9:00 AM).

1 comment:

  1. It seems that you had been well-trained for the land of Russia, that is reported to be soaked in vodka. As they say, "Hard-time on the training ground, easy time in battle!" You must had known right there and then, in Munich, that you'd do the Emperor proud on your journey following Švejko-Hašek through Eurasia.