We needed to get into Romania for Christmas and after careful consideration decided on a stop in Alba Iulia before travelling a day later to Brasov. As we were in Vienna the night Train that terminates in Bucharest was the most convenient option on the cards in terms of keeping the dog empty.
As our whole trip was planned on the fly we had not arranged a reservation for a room with beds on the train online before. Mainly as sites seemed to have none. Unfortunately for us we got sucked into the InterRail adventure and didn’t get organised until we had landed in Vienna. We popped into the ticket office in Wien Hauptbahnhof and found out there were no available bed reservations on that train or the next day leading up to Christmas.
We had no option other than to travel the 14 hours approx in 2nd class seats with the dog dues to this. Note to self, make sure night trains are booked well in advance in future.
Dacia Express Vienna to Bucharest Night Train
The night train travels daily from Vienna in Austria to Bucharest in Romania. The tickets are quite good value and a double room would not have broken the bank and was in the range that we were paying for a room on the way.
The night train is a convenient way to travel while you sleep well into Romania. We had chosen to alight in Alba Iula, primarily as the dog would be in need of being emptied by then and other destinations we fancied would have meant him holding it in for another few hours.
We could have stayed on the “Dacia Express” train to arrive in Brasov early afternoon, but with the dog in tow, this was not an option.
Our Journey From Vienna to Alba Iulia
A journal of the eventful trip in “Peasant Class” on the night train.
After a good drenching in Vienna centre, we popped back to the Hotel via Aldi and stocked up for the night. Stocking up included an Interrail Picnic which included various bread rolls, cheeses, cured meats and sun-dried peppers. Soft drinks, beers and a bottle of wine were also procured and put in one of the ultra-strong Aldi bags.
Next step was the collection of our rucksacks from Hotel Odeon and try and dry out. Drying out involved getting into shorts and T-shirt and sitting in the hotel bar with clothes on various radiators while we enjoyed a few bottles of Viennese beer.
Getting to the main train station
Once dry bags were put on our backs, lead on the dog ready for the not so long walk to Pratterstern Station. This was uneventful and jumped on a quiet train that was heading through to Wien Hauptbahnhof.
Wien Hauptbahnhof Vape Mission
We were early to the station and had an hour to kill and needed to stock up on vape juice for the e-cigarettes, the plan was to get enough to get us to Brasov. There were 2 vape shops in the Wien Hauptbahnhof train station. The first one I tried on the lower floor had what was required but would not accept VISA payment annoyingly. I headed off after queueing for a while to find this nugget of info to find an ATM to get some Euros out to find a long queue to a broken ATM, This continued annoyingly for a few machines until I gave up on that store.
The other shop was closer to where we had separated and dumped my bag. Wow, they had so many choices so asked for the usual Strawberry 18mg version, I got an informative reply of the way the law works in Austria regarding strengths. The end result was they don’t sell what I wanted anywhere in Vienna so would have to have the strongest available 12mg unfortunately.
Boarding the train
The carriages were mislabeled or our ticket was so had so ask the guard to point us in the right direction. We were tentative that the train would be rammed but there were spare seats at this stage.
On finding the seats we quickly realised the lady opposite was scared of a cute friendly King Charles Spaniel so decided to move back a row to make her long journey more comfortable. We settled into the journey by opening a beer and making a sandwich.
Next stop was Budapest which had a 10-15 minute stop so took the puppy out for a midnight potty club to empty his bladder before the long stretch of the journey. This went well walking to the end of the platform and back and the dog marked a few posts on the way.
On return all was well except the train was getting very full, people were getting on with enough luggage to make we think they were moving house.
A Roma Gipsy family got on right at the last minute, and unfortunately for us, we were in their seats. We had to move or so we thought, the lady scared of the dog was going to have a bad journey I thought. After many other passengers butting in and lots of debate in Romanian, they smiled at us and we had negotiated a seat swap, happy days.
Budapest To The Hungary-Romania Border
The train was crammed full with no seats left and tickets had been oversold so some poor folk were left to sit on the old unclean floor or in the doorways.
The toilets on board had become a sort of “Speak Easy” they, resembled a cross between a can recycling plant and an ashtray. My main reason to pop in was to have a does of my vape but as others seemed to smoke in the doorways, I joined them. Most had better English than my Romanian/Hungarian so passed pleasantries and people said hi and fussed the dog.
One funny and drunk Romanian guy was according to my “translator/partner” on his way with 10000 euros to buy a wife. He also had many other tall stories that I could not understand, was common knowledge that people were amused but didn’t believe any of the drunk ramblings. The carriage had a great atmosphere, people were smiling despite the cramped conditions, possibly the bottles of Tuica and beer going around.
The guard even comes up the train to check tickets, all good with us but took issue with a poor girl sitting on the floor. She had a valid ticket but no reservation for the floor seat she was occupying. The guard was quite mean and forced her to pay reservation of 5 euros for the pleasure of sitting on the floor. This although upsetting for her created a unity in the carriage and everyone seemed more friendly towards each other and the mean guard was discussed.
When exiting Hungary you leave the Schengen area so this journey involves 2 border checks int eh middle of the night. The train stopped at the Hungarian station of Lőkösháza and was due to stop for just under an hour.
The Hungarian passport inspectors come through the train to check passports for everyone, all with no fuss and spoke good English. We popped off the train to see if the dog wanted a pee as well as to stretch legs. I don’t think this was strictly allowed but 50 or 60 others were doing it so I joined in with the leg stretching.
The train departed on time to cross the line on the map and then the next passport check at Curtici. The Romanian passport controllers went through the train checking and were equally friendly in their official manner. Again I dismounted the train with the dog to further stretch my legs. The Border control agents were focussing on a group of young men in the next carriage and seemed to take issue with something. They dismounted the train and searched through some impressively big bags full of nappies. No idea what they were searching for in the nappes but the incident put the train late leaving and made a mess of the passenger’s nappies.
Border To Alba Iulia
With the train running late we realised we had run out of beer and soft drinks and fancied more. The Restaurant car had closed so no hope their we asked around to see if we could pay over the odds for a few cans. Nobody had any beverages left, but the storyteller believed he could get us some from some people he knew at the next stop. Nothing to lose other than 20 Lei we struck up a deal where we would buy him a beer for the pleasure. Off he went for a short while and had returned with one can and 10 Lei gone to share between three of us, we utilised old cans to share the drink. We felt like winners scoring a beer on the train so was priceless.
Eventually, we fell to sleep after all the booze and late-night, this was not our plan as had set no alarms. Lucky for us a ticket inspector put his hand on my shoulder to check tickets, this was perfect timing as we were pulling into Alba Iulia. The ticket man had inadvertently saved us a big headache.
We said our goodbyes to those travelling with us and got off the train in Alaba Iulia. We were glad we chose to stop here as was a great stop. About Alba Iulia…
This journey has been the most talked-about train journey that we have done, The journey had it all, discomfort, characters, events and a life lesson or two.
Next night train with the dog in tow we will be booking a room well in advance, this lesson was put into practice for the return trip to Vienna. For our subsequent journeys, we took more than enough refreshments.