Nicholas Quirke was calm but also enjoying a little frisson of excitement at the day of travel ahead of him when he woke from another refreshing nights sleep. His short sojourn in Prague had felt special. It was a mesmerising city that he would like to return to. He would also return to the quirky, comfortable accommodation he had chosen to stay in; Charmed that it was on the river and charmed that they called it a Botel. Despite only having two trains to navigate he did have a low level of anxiety around the journey. He had ordered a taxi for 9.45 and would get to the station with 50 minutes to spare before his train to Wien departed. He had intended to get a light lunch for the 4 hour journey but was unable to find anything appetising or Vegan on the concourse at Praha and instead grabbed a banana and some water but when they wouldn’t sell him the banana till he had weighed it, his low level stress kicked in and he refused to buy anything. The familiarity of cutting his nose off to spite his face in these situations did not escape him but he had to accept that this momentary lapse of decorum meant he would endure 4 hours without sustenance. In Southern Rail style every other train but his announced the platform it was departing from and his anxiety increased as departure drew nigh. Needless worry he had time and plenty of space on the train to enjoy the brilliant sunshine that saw Praha pass into a memory. It was good to see the fairy tale homes of Bohemia pass by, but every time he tried to capture the charm it had swiftly turned Into barren or dystopian industrial landscapes he loved to record. The weather too had turned and a grey pallor descended on the view as the hurtled through the Republic to Austria and eventually turning to mist by the time they reached Vienna. Nicholas had a 2 hour stop over which was a good opportunity for him to finally eat something other than a bag of ready salted Crisps from Mobile trolley on the train. The train he was to board, the sleeper from Wien to Kiev had been one of the more problematic journeys and the last ticket he had been able to purchase as they were not sale till 30 days before travel date, neither could he have an E-ticket but instead was sent a code which he would have to use to get a physical ticket on the platform. He was terrified that he would mess this up somehow and it was the first thing he did when he got off. Once he had located and printed his travel document he felt liberated and could eat he settled on a Vietnamese Cashew nut and tofu wok dish and as he sat down to eat was joined by a charming Slovak, Michael, who was returning from New Zealand where he was working as a tour guide. They exchanged stories of travelling till Michael needed to get his train but not before Nicholas coerced him into a selfie and foisted his blog address onto him. He did not have long to wait before his own train arrived and it was with delight and excitement that he boarded the Soviet style sleeper carriage at the back of the train. There was nothing that disappointed other than there was no WiFi in the carriage which could mean communication break down. The compartment, which It transpired he had all to himself, was cozy, exotically carpeted and exactly what he imagined. It held an air of unreality as it was from a completely different era to the train it was pulled by. He felt like he was in a film, though he wasn’t sure which: ‘Closely Observed Trains’ sprang to mind. Night was falling as they departed he was not going to see much of the vista which started to speed by. It was getting colder and frosts were now visible and as they left Austria and entered the flat lands of Hungry snow had started clinging to the trees. He attempted to capture the eerie night view, crossing the wide Danube and the stations and platforms of towns he had never heard of, but his technology fell short of achieving the veracity he was after. It felt desperately romantic even when they stopped at Budapest, a city he had been to before, a thrill touched him. Travelling by train was time consuming but it really felt like you were seeing the world. The same feeling of his mind expanding that he had as he drove across America flooded through him and its lure was so potent he never wanted it to go away. Without internet he decided he would finally re-read a Maigret Novel, ‘A Battle off Nerves’ he had bought with him. And stretching himself out on his bed he settled down for the night. He did not close the blind as he wanted to see the world hurtling by if he woke.