If anyone ever says to you, "Hey, let's take an overnight train to (insert city here)!" DO. NOT. DO. IT.
When I was traveling around Europe with a couple of friends in 2009, we thought it would be a great idea to save on accommodation and travel by train during the night. So we hopped on a train in Rome and made our way to Paris.
Two birds, one stone. This is gonna be great!
No. Nope. Never again.
We got to our cabin and my friend with claustrophobia immediately started panicking. Not gonna lie, I don't have claustrophobia and I was still panicking. This shoe box they called a cabin held four beds - two low, two high - and there was only enough room for one person to stand at a time.
I somehow got stuck with one of the top beds. (Probably because I'm too nice.) It took a long time for my chunky, clumsy ass to maneuver up there, and I wasn't quite sure how I was going to get down... This was one of those moments where I wished I had an adult diaper and some Xanax.
To top it off, there was approximately 6 inches of wiggle room around my bed, which meant there was no way I was getting out of my bra and jeans now that I was up there. Cool. Great start.
We laughed about the whole situation for awhile and then tried to go to sleep.
For some reason I didn't think about the train making stops and people getting on and off as the night went on. We had an extra bed in our cabin and there seemed to be a swap at every stop. Each one louder than the one before. One woman came in with three enormous pieces of luggage that literally took up all of the free space in the cabin. There was no way for me to get down. If there was a fire, we all would have died. I decided that if I had to pee, I would be aiming it at her face.
As soon as I fell asleep, officers/border patrol came around to collect passports. I'm gonna be honest, none of us thought about this. Which means none of us were prepared for this. It took approximately half a century to maneuver around the dark cabin and find all of our documentation. The officers were not happy with us. They snatched our passports and disappeared. We were also not expecting that. I made a small prayer to the passport gods that the officers wouldn't throw our documents out of a window.
A couple of hours later the officers stormed into the cabin and returned our stamped passports. It all seemed a bit shady, but I was too tired to question it.
I was able to get about 3 power naps in before the sun came up. By this point in time I needed to get out of my jeans. I decided to just fall from the top bed because I was going to fall if I tried using "the ladder" anyway. This way it was intentional and I didn't look like a boob.
When I got to the itty bitty bathroom, I looked in the mirror and screamed. I was terrifying. I would scare little children if I didn't get my shit together. Since there was no shower on the train, I decided to put on my nicest dress. Whenever I'm hungover on a weekday, I always wear a nice dress to work. This takes people's eyes away from my face. It's like being a butterface for a day. This is a trick that I've been using for a decade and it never fails. I get more compliments on hangover days than I do any other.
Anyway, after I finally wiggled the dress on, I started getting pumped about brushing my teeth. (Yes, pumped.) But as I go to turn on the water, there's a sign that specifically says, "Do Not Use To Brush Teeth." WTF. We had no water with us and there was none for sale. My teeth felt like tiny sweaters, and I stated to get a thirst like I was in the Sahara. Nothing makes you thirstier than being told there's no water.
Nonetheless, I wasn't going to let this train break me. I may have looked and smelled like a trainwreck (pun intended), but we only had one day in Paris and I was going to make the most of it. So I rubbed a mint around my teeth, grabbed the ladies, and set off into the city.
To this day I still get uneasy when I head to Paris.