|We weren't quite sure how we were going to get to the Baltics from Greece and after purusing the internet for flights, it became no clearer. We knew the train would take us there and after much pondering, it was time to hit the rails.
First it was back to Thessaloniki by bus, one more night at our local guesthouse, and then it was time to catch the overnight train to Budapest, one of our favorite European cities. Since it was a steaming hot day, Julia waited on the platform and Tomas seached for our car, or wagon as it is called in Europe. "Our cars been cancelled" Tomas said to Julia as he quickly headed back to the ticket office to sort things out. After getting clear instructions from the ticket office, Tomas headed back up to the platform as the train departed.
Back at the ticket office, Tomas noticed the departure schedule had a train to Sofia leaving in 15 minutes. "we'll go there" he told the ticket agent and we were off. Tomas even bought first class tickets no less!
A pleasant journey landed us in Sofia at midnight. Thankfully some other backpackers were disembarking as well and we followed them to a hostel. After a decent nights rest, we headed to the train station. "Train to Budapest leaves in 15 minutes" we were told. Great! Bought a few snacks and boarded the "Balkan Express" in our own sleeper car. We toured about every inch of Serbia, in total about 8 hours, then headed into Hungary amd finally our destination: Budapest.
One thing that is not pleasant is arriving in a city, even a city you know, at 7 am with no idea where you are going to stay. Needless to say, it took a few hours, but we found a great hostel and were thrilled. Since the world cup is underway, there was no point heading on too quickly, so we stayed a few days in Budapest, heading to the park every afternoon to watch the football (and sip a few beers) on a big screen TV with thousands of others. What a blast. Thanks Dominic for some great laughs!
Soon enough, it was time for our next overnight sleeper car, this time going to Warsaw, Poland. We had a reservation and directions for a hostel and were quite comfy on the train. We've already forgotten his name, but the Vietnamese import/export person in the sleeper next to us bought us several beers and kept us entertained for quite sometime, until his face turned bright red and he needed to go lay down. Considering he spoke Vietnamese, Hungarian and Polish and we speak English, French and Spanish, it is amazing we know as much about each other as we do. We vowed to call him once we are back in California and can have some Vietnamese friends translate for us!
We had not been to Warsaw before, there was no hurry to get to the Baltics and the football was still on. So for two nights, we carried on the tradition of sitting in the plaza with countless others drinking beer, watching football and having amazing conversations with people, both local and travellers.
The final leg was by bus. The train no longer went to Vilnius and so it was an overnight bus. It was not long into the journey when Julia mentioned "I sure miss our sleeper car". Tomas was in complete agreement.
Our first stop in the Baltics, Vilnius was now upon us. After many years of wanting to visit this region, we rolled into Vilnius bus station at 7 am, map and hotel reservation in hand!