Bucket List: I Took An Overnight Train (and No, It Was Not Like a Agatha Christie Murder)

Photo by madeleine ragsdale on Unsplash

I have always been a huge murder mystery fan. My favorite board game is Clue, and I love the classic works of Agatha Christie, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and H.G. Wells, and I listen to true crime podcasts on a daily basis. One very common theme that happens in classic murder mystery novels is the old idea of an overnight train, and often how on over night trains murders tend to happen.

Because of my love of mystery novels, I’ve had this weird obsession of traveling everywhere by trains like they did in the 20th century. As morbid as it sounds, if I was on a train and there just happened to be a murder, I would be estatic! Not for the murdered victim. That would be tragic. But the whole idea of a ‘Murder on the Orient Express’ playing out in real life would be amazing.

As I’m writing this I can see why people might think I’m a crazy person.

Growing up reading classic novels always made me wonder what it was like to spend an entire evening traveling by train. Maybe traveling for a week like a lot of people did. As a modern 21st century millenial, I never saw a passenger train in real life until I went to Europe for the first time. Yes, I’ve seen subways and trolleys and even been to Penn Stations multiple times. But- I’ve never seen a train that was equipped for overnight travel. Never! We didn’t have that in Florida

I grew up in a small beach town in South Florida. The only things that counted as public transportation was the school bus and your one friend who’s family owned a 12-passenger van (aka me and my family). I don’t recall seeing any public transportation until my very first memories of visiting my family in New York.

I’ve taken many family road trips at this point. I’m used to traveling in small, cramped spaces for long hours. As an adult I’d much rather fly than drive, but that might be because I am impatient and can’t sit still.

So back to the train story. This happened almost six years ago, and I’m a little fuzzy from the details, but I do remember exactly why I will only do this again if I am in the fancy, first class cabins…. and only if there is unlimited free wine.

Back in 2014 I spent three weeks traveling Europe on a school trip. The first stop was Paris for three days, and then we would be spending a week making our way through Italy. Our train left Paris at 6 pm, after a very long day of Museum and walking tours. We arrived in Pavia, Italy the next morning.

The first thing I need to point out is how oblivious I am, and that I never read the itinerary beforehand. I had no idea we were taking a train until we started loading our suit cases into the train itself. Safe to say the murder mystery fan in me was completely ecstatic! However my excitement quickly dwindled when I found out i was daring a 10 foot by 18 foot space with 7 other people. Not exactly what I read about in murder mystery novels.

Not only was their no space, there was no sink or toilet in our car. The way to get to the restroom was to walk through two other cars. At least during road trips you can stop to pee. And let’s not mention the ongoing drama of teenage girls. There were multiple girls who did not like each other cramped together in one room.

There are a few take-aways I got from this experience. One, eight teenagers should not be held in close confines, especially if those girls DO NOT like each other. Two, if you suffer from motion sickness, this is by far the worst mode of transportation you can take. Three, ITS FUCKING LOUD! Oh my God! It’s so loud. For 12 hours all you here is the banging noise of the wheels along the train tracks.

I could honestly say that my fantasies of being on a train in the 20’s was completely shattered that day. But I’m not losing any hope. I hear theirs a murder mystery wine train in Napa that I need to try. But until then do not catch me traveling anywhere by train for more than an hour anytime soon.

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