Why I Prefer Old Slovak Trains To “Better” Western European Trains

Slovak Trains

October 9, 2017

Allan Stevo

In the year 2010 if you step into a train in Slovakia, it is likely a train built 30 years ago. A train that squeaks and is so noisy that the gentle rocking won’t work you to sleep. Each window opens, or is at least supposed to open. The seats often stick to your skin on hot days and chill your clothed skin with a hard vinyl on cold days. Still upholstered with the original materials of 30 years ago and mended with duct tape-like material here and there. If the lights work they are harsh, but can be switched off in each six- or eight-passenger compartment, each coupé, as the Europeans are fond of calling them. The toilets have ages of wear on them that are indecipherable from filthiness. When you flush, a trap door in the toilet opens to reveal the sound, sight, and draft of the tracks below. There is no pretense of there being a storage tank on this train.

This train is the superior train in Slovakia, a train you are lucky to be on if you have the opportunity. Every passenger on that train can control the temperature, the level of draft that reaches him or her, the amount of light, out of politeness by first asking the six other people in the coupé if they wouldn’t mind and then opening or closing a window, door, drapes, hanging a head or arm out into the breeze, switching on the heat or air-conditioning, turning the lights on or off. This is the communist built train that surprisingly exemplifies and recognizes the freedom of the individual, a responsibility to people immediately around him, the ability to change things immediately around him.

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Allan Stevo writes on Slovak culture at www.52inSk.com. He is from Chicago and spends most of his time traveling Europe and writing. You can find more of his writing at www.AllanStevo.com. If you enjoyed this post, please use the buttons below to like it on Facebook or to share it with your friends by email. You can sign up for emails on Slovak culture from 52 Weeks in Slovakia by clicking here.

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