City Night Line
City Nightline is an excellent overnight serice operated by Deutsche Bahn.
City Nightline is an excellent overnight serice operated by Deutsche Bahn. It travels to several countries including France, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.
There are staff to greet you when you board and they will take your passport and ticket on boarding, returning them to you the following morning. The cabins are very comfortable and it's a wonderful way to travel to a destination. There are even deluxe cabins, which have showers and seats that fold to become beds. A wash basin and towels are provided and there are plug points so you can charge laptops and mobiles.
There's a restaurant car and a simple complimentary breakfast is included in the price. This is brought to your cabin if you wish.
This is the night train
Glamour and romance still cling to the idea of a train speeding through moonlit mountains and valleys, carrying its cargo of sleeping passengers.
And night trains in Europe still retain that sense of excitement, the childlike thrill of going to sleep in one place, and waking in another, with a hazy midnight memory of clanking iron as carriages are uncoupled, or the guard’s haunting whistle piercing the still night air.
Road, Rail and Sea have recently taken wonderful overnight journeys between Paris and Berlin, Prague and Budapest, Paris and Madrid, Madrid and Lisbon, and Lisbon and Hendaye, in the cause of research.
And we learnt a thing or two about how to make the most of your overnight journey.
1. Take a Dressing Gown
On many overnight trains, you can book an ‘ensuite’ cabin- it may be the tiniest bathroom ever, but it’s yours. However, to save a bit of money, the ‘shared bathroom’ option is a good choice- as long as you pack something to cover your modesty for the midnight scuttle to the loo. Nobody likes making small talk with Hungarian business travellers in their pyjamas.
2. Learn To Sleep Neatly
If you’re the kind of sleeper who rolls about, thrashing and muttering “I said put the fish in the teapot...” then you should take the bottom bunk. While beds are fairly comfortable, they tend to be very narrow- and while most have a form of cot-railing to keep you in, some Eastern European trains, particularly, let you take your chances when it comes to tumbling out.
3. Don’t Panic
When They Take Your Passport Often, if there’s a border crossing during the night, the train guard will take your passport just after you board, to avoid disturbing you in the night. Obviously, this would make a great basis for a thriller starring Harrison Ford and Colin Farrell. But in real life, it’s perfectly safe- you get it back next morning. It’s unlikely you’ll even notice travelling over the border- it’s not like Harry Potter, when Dementors suddenly board the train and swoop through the carriages. But it is very exciting to peer out the window at 3am and realise the language on the station signs has change
4. Take Entertainment
Usually, you’ll board the night train at about 8pm, and arrive at your destination by 8 or 9 the following morning. This is not Virgin Atlantic, however, and there is not an in-train entertainment system- so if you’ve arrived without books, games and dvds to watch on the laptop, you will be extremely bored once it’s too dark to see out of the window.
You may not have a table, so Monopoly isn’t a good idea- take playing cards, a laptop or ipad (there’s usually a plug socket for shavers) and books and magazines. At the very least, don’t forget headphones- for some, the clanking and wheezing of the night train is a soothing lullaby- for others, it’s a direct route to insomnia.
5. Take a Picnic!
You can eat at the station before boarding but buying a picnic is much more fun. Take any food you can eat without plates or cutlery- bread, cheese, crisps, apples- and of course, a bottle of wine, which can be poured into the plastic tooth-mugs provided by the train.
There is nothing more romantic than drinking red wine with the one you love (or an attractive stranger) as you race through the night towards an exotic destination.