Forest at dawn

Autumn and beginning of museum season, with a short journey with the Austrian Nightjet

It is early morning and the Nightjet that is due is 40 minutes late. The delay turns into 30 minutes, and finally 25 minutes. I board the train that has managed to make up for lost time during its overnight journey through Austria and Germany. Barely a third of the seats in my train carriage are occupied. People are sleeping, with their legs stretched out and I see feet sticking out along the aisle. These are brave travelers wanting to cover great distances overnight and they had travelled from Austria overnight.

People’s feet dangling in the corridor

Before boarding, I noticed that there are train carriages with their windows completely blacked out. So that was the night sleeper, I mused as I got on the train seconds before the whistle signaled the closing of the doors. It was obvious that it was early in the morning, with few people stirring in the train car. Some were drowsy, some in a hurry, but all wearing their early morning faces – Hair standing in all directions, eyelids drooping. Someone has opened a bag of crisps and the sound of the rustling in the bag with the hand is like a thunderstorm on this otherwise quiet train carriage.

Colorful autumn and warmer places further south

The autumn colors are here again, that is clear as the day brightens, showing forests and fields outside. Although the holiday season of the summer has come to a close, there is no lack of news for travelers, for instance, the Portugal Rail Pass was released. Against the backdrop of various rail passes, this brings some more momentum to the topic of rail travel in Europe.

The autumn arrives in stages at different latitudes around Western Europe. There is still warmer temperatures to find in Portugal’s Lisbon or Bordeaux in France.

A season for museums

As the days grow shorter with less sunshine pulling us to beaches and pastoral landscapes, museums become a great option to spend free time, such as the Mediterranean Museum in Stockholm, or the Glyptothek in Munich.

Sunrise in Belgium
Sunrise in Belgium

Outside the blurry lines of trees were visible on a field, and there above the sky slowly turning to grey. Now the green shades of the fields are barely visible and we are picking up the speed again, to the sounds of the train wheels against the rail.

The comfort in Nightjet train seat carriages

The train carriages were old ones we are used to from the past. Large clunky affairs but with modern seats and fair enough legroom in second class. The speed of the train fluctuated fairly often, which brings back memories from past journeys through the wilderness of the Scandinavian landscapes when trains were very much like these. Dawn had not quite arrived as we bounced along the rail towards the destination.

Night trains are not exclusively sleeper trains

So although night sleeper trains are seeing a renaissance these days, The Nightjet takes train travel into the night and across the European mainland also with ordinary seats – a sleeper train often caters to travellers not looking for a bed on rails. The combined effect of night sleepers and increasing numbers of national rail passes is making for a bright future for traveling around Europe (add Portugal’s version to the Irish rail pass, or the BritRail for that matter).