February 25, 2016

For the Girls who Ride Trains (& for those who don’t).

Flickr/Sam Hawley

“The train’s not there! It’s supposed to be here—the tracks are on the map!”

It was a winter night in Poland, and it was f*cking colder than any other place I’ve ever been.

The train that my travel partner and I were supposed to take to Ukraine no longer existed. It was literally no longer there.

My friend lost it—I mean really lost it. This cool, calm and collected girl who could take anything (except no trains), just completely lost her marbles.

“No train…No train? No train!”

Yep—no train.

In times like these, there is only one thing you can do—buy mulled wine from a street vendor, read Polish poetry from the book in your bag, sing a silly song and jump up and down. (Bonus points if the street vendor takes a picture of you jumping and laughing.)

It was quite hilarious to me—my adorable friend, throwing a tantrum while walking down the streets of Krakow, because the train that was supposed to be there just wasn’t. She was pissed.

At one time or another, we all throw these “The-train-is-supposed-to-be-here!” tantrums. (Mine typically take the form of “This-is-the-most-f*cking-cold-place-I’ve-ever-been!”)

We had a plan, dammit! We want to ride the trains that say they will come!

Now any traveler worth his or her salt knows that plans never actually work out. Generally one will miss the train, however usually—at bare minimum—it exists.

There was an explanation, we just didn’t have enough Slavic vowels under our belts to even begin to comprehend.

It never occurred to either of us that the train could simply not exist, and that we’d have to find another way—and that way would just happen to be one of the best days of our entire journey!

From this, I learned that sometimes—even though they may say there is a train—sometimes the train is just not there. And there’s not much we can do about a train we want to ride that will most definitely never come.

Sometimes, “No train…No train? No train!” is the best thing that can happen to you—you just don’t don’t know it yet.

So what did we do? We took a bus that almost drove away with our packs, walked to Slovakia, ignored the creepy dudes saying strange things to us from a house where we waited for hours for a hitch, hitchhiked with a guy who liked Megadeath, hitchhiked with a guy who barely spoke but took us to the bus station, took a bus to Ukraine, got in a car with our friends, and finally passed through the border to a comfy former Soviet home and a welcoming shot of vodka.

It was three countries, three languages and a lot of epic adventuring in the course of a day—and that day was one of the most amazing days in a two and a half month journey.

Girls who ride trains get it. We ride them right through the split of the countryside. We view life from our window seats, looking forward and back. We see the shortcuts through the borders. We find freedom knowing we’ll fall asleep in one country and wake up in another.

Girls who don’t ride trains also get it and find other ways. We stick out our thumbs and are taken through the highways by Slovakian men who love death metal. We drink cold coffee on the side of snowy roads, waiting for a hitch. We navigate to destinations in languages we can’t even begin to understand—and yet, we somehow get where to we are going.

Because even when the train is not there, we’ll find another way.


Author: Natasha Majewski

Editor: Yoli Ramazzina

Photo: Flickr/Sam Hawley

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Natasha Majewski