Train Traveling Companions

A Student Group Fills My Carriage

          One of the many reasons trains are just about my favorite way to travel is the interesting traveling companions you meet onboard during the journey.  Several years ago I was boarding an overnight train from Budapest, Hungary to Brasov, Romania where I was looking forward to visiting Dracula’s castle at the nearby town of Bran the next day.  As the sole occupant of my carriage, I settled into my seat for what I thought would be a restful night.  Looking out the window I could see a large group of animated middle school students with several teachers standing on the platform several cars away from mine.  I had already had a busy day exploring Budapest and it didn’t take long for my eyelids to start feeling heavy.  Just as I was drifting off to sleep, the door at the far end of the carriage opened and about forty students burst into the aisle and filled the seats all around me.

Hungarian Parliament Building across the Danube River from the Buda side of Budapest

Hungarian Parliament Building across the Danube River from the Buda side of Budapest

Boys on a Train

            I could see that the boys were looking at me, wondering who this lone traveler was, where he was from and what language he spoke.  Before long one of the teachers came along and whispered something in Hungarian to the boy sitting on the aisle.  He then promptly held out his bag and offered me some of his candy.  When I said ‘thank you’, all three perked up and began speaking to me in very basic English.  From then on they never stopped talking, each one trying to outdo the other with a question for me, such as ‘Do you like this sports figure?’ or ‘Do you like that movie star?’

My Traveling Companions on a Train Trip through Hungary

My Traveling Companions on a Train Trip through Hungary

A Wonderful Experience 

          This went on until 2 AM when we finally arrived at a sleepy little town in the middle of Hungary where anxious parents were waiting on the platform to welcome their children home from their field trip.  The three young fellows along with the entire car full of students bid me farewell as they piled out of the train.  I settled back into my seat, suddenly wishing it wasn’t so quiet.  I now look back on this as one of those wonderful experiences where you get a glimpse into the lives of people from another country and a different culture and realize just how much we all have in common.  I’m so grateful for the warm welcome these middle school students gave to a visitor from another country.

Dracula's Bran Castle in Transylvania, Romania

Dracula’s Bran Castle in Transylvania, Romania