When riding the train through four countries….

…you really get to see the differences in how these countries do things, communicate, and the view.

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Yesterday morning, after visiting friends and family in Serbia for a week and then walking all over Budapest for just a couple of days, Ana and I gathered all of our things together and our husky dog, Pushkin and boarded the train early in the morning. The train right from Budapest to Berlin is 11 hours long and we pass through four countries.

map train  You can see here;  Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Germany.

We made a similar trek the opposite direction going to Serbia in June when we went to visit (my first time) family and friends and then to take our husky dog to live there for a few months.  On both of these journeys we noticed how each country has a flavor on the train. It is interesting to me.  Many of the passengers are with us for a while on both trips and they are usually friendly and kind as they see our huge dog behaving so well in the aisle.  He really is amazingly good on this trip. But the mood changes per country. I learned from our first trip so I geared up for this trip.

Hungary:  Getting on the train is no problem just like getting off the train was no problem. We have done our research.  We have a ticket for Pushky that is for a child but this is what every website tells us to do.  We bought first class tickets so we wouldn’t bother as many people and it would be more comfy for our long ass journey.  We have snacks because we have learned many countries don’t walk through to offer or for some it is impossible to get water or food even in the dining car.  The conductor on this leg doesn’t ask us questions, looks a little perplexed at the ticket for child/dog but continues on and really says very little to us.  No problem. But what I am really gearing up for is the next country.

Slovakia: Our travel from Hungary to Slovakia is beautiful but it starts to really become flat and without much to see as we enter this country. Last time the conductor in Slovakia kicked us out of first class to second class for a rule that only is in this country.  He was gruff and made us get up and move right away, complaining about how our dog sheds.  It hadn’t been a problem until this point on the way there.  This time I prepared myself with talking points and adrenaline.  This Slovakian conductor did NOT disappoint. He approaches already frowning at this lovely animal on the train.  Already not a good sign.  He stops at us, looks at the tickets and says, “You have a hund.” I say, “yes, sir.” He says, “But this ticket is for a kind.”  “Yes because this is what all of the websites say to do.”

Pause.

Him: ‘This is a problem. You need to move.”

Me: We won’t be moving because we bought these tickets and did our research.  The hund is with us and will stay with us, at our seats.

Him: This is a problem. This is our rule.

Me: Sir, you are the only one with this rule and he is not a problem.

Him:  He sighs, stamps all tickets but the one for the hund and huffs off.

At this point, I am thinking…are we going to get kicked off?  Will he come back?  He comes back but ignores us completely.  Ok.

Czech Republic: Sweet sweet lovely Czech Republic. The minute we leave Slovakia it is as if light begins to shine brighter. The conductor comes in, spots Pushky, comes right over and starts petting him.  He coos at him. He takes our tickets and stamps them all.  He smiles again and continues on with his job.  A few minutes later he is handing us bottles of water. He smiles again at Push.  Each time he goes by we start to move our pup and he insists not to bother him. He lifts his cart above him, stops to pet him multiple times and is excited to have us.  Hospitality and love.  God bless the Czech Republic.

And finally into Germany:  The rule is you must muzzle your dog.  Germans like rules and buy into and keep the rules.  Rules must be followed.  Even though it hurts our souls a little we muzzle our dog.  By now, most people on the train know and love our husky.  He has made friends and people take his pic (happens everywhere we go).  If we keep the rules, no problem.  Our conductor arrives to us, Pushky is muzzled, she nods and stamps our tickets.  We take the muzzle off, she reappears and waits until we remuzzle him and then we are ok.  All is well with a muzzle, the rule.

And after 11 hours we arrive and all is well.  All four countries accounted for and this expat has more information than ever before.

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