Welcome to my blog. I write about fitting in, sticking out, and missing the motherland as a serial foreigner.

Bucharest to Nuremberg by train

We are in Germany now. It took a sleeper train and a day train to get here from Bucharest, but we are happy.

After the night flight from Dubai to Bucharest, we arrived at our hotel just in time to see the US lose to Belgium. That set the tone for a restless night of sleep, but by check-out time, we were ready to board the sleeper train to Vienna.

I love sleeper trains, even with kids. It's true that the best practice for riding sleeper trains with children is to gather the family in the smallest room in your house and then stay there for 18 hours (the train from Bucharest to Vienna was 20 hours, actually). But you can settle in, and stretch out, and watch the world go by, and sleep comfortably, which is more than you can say for a plane ride. On this train, we had a four-berth compartment all to ourselves. The girls took the top bunks. Jeremy and I took the bottom ones. Sterling slept on the floor in an area blocked off by suitcases.

My main worry about this train ride was that the middle-of-the-night border crossings would wake up the kids. Amazingly, they slept right through the Romanian exit at about 1am; the Hungarian side about an hour later woke them up but they went back to sleep.

We had western toilets on both ends of the train car this time (unlike in Turkey). There was no soap, except for these mystery chunks which I thought were soap, but upon reflection (and after rubbing them all over my hands), I think they were mothballs.

For dinner, we mixed packets of powdered soup with boiling water provided by the steward. We ate crusty Romanian bread studded with flaxseeds and dipped it in a multi-pack of flavored butters I found at Billa. We finished off the herb and garlic flavors; the barbecue-flavored one ended up in the trash.

And then, just before bedtime, I realized we were out of diapers for Sterling. I'm not sure how this happened. I suspect that somewhere in our house in Sharjah, there is a tidy stack of diapers still waiting to be packed. I had a few swim diapers on hand, and that's what Sterling wore as we trundled through the Romanian/Hungarian/Austrian countryside. (Pro tip: swim diapers are not very absorbent, but they at least kept the worst of it contained.)

The rush to buy diapers at the Vienna train station meant that we barely caught our connecting train to Nuremberg. But we did. Day trains are not nearly as fun as night trains - it's more like airplane travel.

At the Nuremberg train station, I thought back to 12 years ago when Jeremy and I were catching a train passing through that same building going to Prague and then back to our home in Moscow. We had only been married about eight months at the time. Now there we were again, with three kids in tow, on vacation from our home in the UAE. It was an interesting moment.

And a tired one, to be honest. As fun as it has been to travel on sleeper trains with our kids, I can't help but remember how much fun it is without kids, too. You tend to get more sleep on the sleeper train, anyway.

But there's something about watching your daughter watch the world go by that is pretty neat, too.

Zoo, grocery store, traffic

The ups and downs of Wizz Air (budget airline)