I am now on part 2 of my trip, DIY Orient Express, Istanbul to Vienna.
Dress code is not what it used to be.
We left Istanbul at 10 pm by bus due to track work to the border. We reached the border at 2 am and then had 2 hours at border re passports etc. Then I and about 15 others board train which left at 4 pm. I had booked a 2nd class sleeper which was to have 3 female occupants however I was the only one in my compartment. Train is 3 carriages including one sleeper with me and about 7 others and person who kept announcing ‘ I am shaffer conductor.’ He was wearing shorts, loose shirt and sandals. Compartment had 3 beds with white sheets, doona and pillow.
I settle down but am woken by border guard for Bulgaria. No problem. I awake at 9 am to find I am now one of 3 in this carriage. Conductor is now wearing red check boxer shorts and singlet. He heats water for my coffee but I have to provide the water. Train has no water or food at all.
Toilets are good.
We have an hour stop in Bulgaria so I try to buy coffee from kiosk on station. Woman in kiosk won’t take Euros so I try ATM but that won’t give money. Girl about 20 offers to buy me coffee which she does and we have great long chat on post Soviet Romania. She is street performer and anthropology student.
Train continues now with 5 carriages, very hot, air conditioning possibly stopped in 1932. I share my baklava with my helper. She is in seat in carriage at back of train which is much cooler than my sleeper.
Guard now wears only boxer shorts.
We arrive after 21 hours, an hour late in Bucharest. Guard now dressed in blue shirt, trousers and highly polished shoes.
Only male on train wearing a shirt asks if I need help. I might say he was the only one who would look good without a shirt. My lovely girl helper Madeleine helps me book next journey and gets me a taxi and settles the price with driver.
This trip was much for enjoyable and comfortable than same time on plane.