Greenpoint, October, 2015

Monday, April 2, 2012

A Train Tale

(Photo courtesy Order of St. Lazarus)
Midwinter in the Carpathians. We had crossed the border by bus from the Polish side to the Slovak Republic to visit the castle in Stara Lubovna (above). After a few excellent Smadny Mnich (Happy Monk) beers, we returned to the station to catch the bus back across the border. But we'd miscalculated. It was a holiday in the Slovak Republic: No more buses today. Many conversations later, in a mishmash of Polish and Slovak, a plan was hatched. We would take a local train 20 or so kms into the interior and there make a connection for the Budapest-Warsaw train, which would drop us not far from our village on the Polish side of the border.

(Photo courtesy
It would take many hours, more in cold waiting rooms at the stations than on the trains themselves. Everywhere we went we would hear the clinking of empty beer bottles that everyone, man or woman, seemed to carry in their bags (to return for the deposit).

The first train was the most memorable. A single-wagon Elekricka like the one pictured (right). A few kilometers after we'd left the station the train ground to a halt. The conductor who'd just taken our tickets, and looked about 16 in his oversized uniform and cap, came back down the aisle. Passengers moved their feet and bags aside (more clinking bottles) so that he could open a panel in the floor. He stuck his head below and made some kind of adjustment. Nobody seemed at all surprised or worried. A few minutes later, he closed the panel and the train started again (more clinking bottles).

I've forgotten the name of the village on the Polish side from where we started out, the Slovak holiday, the names of the train stations, but I will never forget the scene of conductor's headless body sprawled out on the floor of the train or the sound of clinking bottles.

1 comment:

  1. Love the pictures and thank you for posting this wonderful article. Exactly what I was looking for. Keep up the good work, Looking forward for more soon.