I THINK that Alicia Shepard's train ["Night Train From Hell," Dec. 8] was only Purgatory! On my first overnight trip in a second-class couchette from Frankfurt to Paris, a man crawled into my bunk, covering my mouth to stifle my scream. Luckily, I escaped, but so did he.
I don't know what possessed me to do it again, but when traveling the next summer with two girlfriends, I persuaded them to take the night train from Venice to Rome. Imagine our surprise when we woke up the next morning to find that all our bags had been rifled, with all of our possessions stolen. The conductor told us we'd been gassed. Again, thankfully nothing worse happened to us.
We then took a day train and high-tailed it out of Italy for Switzerland, which was 10 times more expensive, but 10 times less scary.
SOME FRIENDS and I joined a tour group that took the night train from Pisa to Paris. When we arrived at our reserved couchette, it was already occupied, and we had to get a porter to remove the occupants. There were five in our group, and since there was space for six, we placed pillows in one bunk, covered them and pretended it was occupied. We were a little leery about sharing the space with a stranger. No one got much sleep because the train stopped at every city on the way.
I WAS saddened to think that any inexperienced travelers reading the story would take Shepard's advice and "Learn, please, from my mistake." The overnight train used to save time and money is a centuries-old habit of the underfunded, time-constrained traveler.
These travelers expect that some of the compartment companions will arrive needing a shower, always carry toilet paper and bring food and drink. Properly set expectations will reduce further mistakes and increase your reservoir of fond travel memories.
Glenn C. Baker
WHY DIDN'T Shepard just pay the extra $23 for a four-room berth and spare us the complaining? She clearly doesn't understand train travel other than perhaps in the States. I've traveled on many trains with six berths, and the experience depends on one's perspective. I know many pensioners and students who don't have an extra $23 to spend and are used to the conditions.
That's life to most people around the world. Too bad that Shepard couldn't see past her own narrow perspective to appreciate that.
Karin M. Krchnak
Don't Feed the . . .
PLEASE INFORM the author of your story on hiking in Utah ["Hike This Way," Dec. 8] that feeding animals in national parks is prohibited.
HAVING JUST reached our biblical three score and ten, we still seem to be bitten by the travel bug. We read with great interest your articles on Eastern Europe ["Ljubljana, Anyone?," June 16]. After going "Eeny, meeny, miney, mo," we chose Slovakia. We followed your suggestions quite closely and had a marvelous time.
We loved the restaurants you recommended, as well as the places you stayed at. It was probably one of our favorite places to travel of all time.
Nancy and Bill Wilson
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