After delaying my journey to Belgrade so I could spend one more night in Hostel Mostel in Sofia, I got up nice and early to catch my 9 hour train. I arrived at the wrong station, attempted to communicate with 8 people until I found the right one and then proceeded to spend 20 minutes trying to buy a ticket. But still I stayed determined and went for my platform. A man grabbed my suitcase from me and only said “follow”. In my pure panic I attempted to protest and retrieve my bag but he was having none of it. But instead of him stealing my bag or luring me to a murder alleyway, he then dropped my bag on the train I was catching. I had a moment of real gratitude thinking a kind stranger had helped me and then real life punched me in the face and he demanded money. I paid him what little I had as this was clearly not someone I wanted to argue with.
I boarded my train and settled in to my little area, when the announcer informs us all that without moving an inch, we were already running 2 hours late. I accepted my fate of a terribly long journey and just wrote for a while to keep my mind occupied. However this was soon interrupted by an unsettling man sitting across from me and proceeding to stare intently at my chest. Not a couple subtle glances but instead glaring as if his life depended on it. I was however relieved of this uncomfortable situation by a woman that I can only assume he was with, seeing what he was doing and beating him with a newspaper.
I slept some, watched a couple episodes of downloaded Netflix and continued to journal. All of a sudden the train began to violently jerk every 10 seconds. Then stop. Then reverse. Then return to normal. Then speed up rapidly. Then repeating that full process for a good hour. This was obviously not a good sign but I just had to embrace the chaos as questioning a staff member was not an option. Eventually the seats filled up somewhat and a woman with a baby sat next to me. Now this isnt going to turn into a crying baby situation, in fact it was a very well behaved child. What was unique about this situation was that with a few Bulgarian words, she passed me her baby and left! I later came to learn that she obviously needed the toilet and wanted someone to watch her child. But in the moment I felt sheer panic as I had inadvertently acquired a baby – certainly not the usual travel souvenir.
Instead of taking 9 hours, the journey took 14. I dealt with money grabbers, creepers, domestic disputes, babies and the cherry on top; all toilets overflowing and becoming unusable. But I made it in one piece and never gave up, it was just a reminder that not all things travel will be shiny and fun. However the good moments will always be worth the work.