The skies have been cloudy and the air was cool as my husband, two daughters, and I arrived in Vienna. After spending a number of days in Austria and the Czech Republic, we have been about to board a Nightjet sleeper prepare that may whisk us away to our subsequent vacation spot: Venice.
When Austrian railway firm ÖBB launched Nightjet in 2016, it seemed like a last-ditch effort to revive the recognition of sleeper trains. Since then, ÖBB has seen a surge in long-distance passengers. In 2022, the corporate introduced it will spend €4.1 billion to modernize its present Nightjets and produce 33 brand-new ones.
Taking a look at Nightjet’s web site earlier than our journey, I used to be desirous to expertise the sleeper prepare’s cozy class. I envisioned charming cities and pristine landscapes rolling by because the prepare’s rhythmic clickety-clacks lulled me right into a peaceable slumber. However because the hours ticked right down to our scheduled 9:27 p.m. departure, my pleasure morphed into wariness. Would the sleeper prepare be as nice as marketed? And would we really sleep?
Figuring out that meals choices on the prepare have been restricted, we stopped for dinner at Mezzaluna, an unfussy pizzeria close to Vienna’s Central Practice Station. At a desk close by, two individuals sipped wine whereas their Boston Terrier quietly sniffed round for bits of crust.
Though passengers can purchase tickets on the prepare in some cases, Nightjet requires reservations for trains to Italy and Germany. From least to costliest, choices embrace seats in an everyday compartment, bunk bed-style couchettes that may sleep as much as six individuals, and sleeper cabins for one, two, or three passengers. With a sleeper cabin reservation, vacationers have entry to ÖBB’s prepare station lounges on the times of their journey. All sleeper cabins embrace a sink; deluxe ones even have a bathroom and bathe. We wished privateness — plus, testing out the bathe sounded attention-grabbing — so we booked two deluxe sleeper cabins.
On the platform, we joined a stream of passengers boarding the prepare. Our phase was helpfully labeled Schlafwagen (“sleeper automotive” in German). Inside, we discovered our cabins, every outfitted with a rest room and twin-sized bunk beds. My 12-year-old, who was my roommate for the night time, selected the highest bunk and commenced investigating the Wi-Fi state of affairs. On our beds have been breakfast order types, together with amenity kits that included slippers, a washcloth, bottled water, and snacks. The darkish chocolate-covered roasted chickpeas have been a stunning hit.
After leaving Vienna’s major station, the prepare stopped for extra passengers. One household’s cabin was inexplicably locked from the skin, prompting a fast response from the conductor. Then, a lady pushing a toddler in a stroller angled the wheels into our cabin to let individuals by, apologizing in German for the intrusion. Alles intestine! (“All good!”) I assured her, as my daughter waved from her perch above. Our younger customer wore teal footie pajamas and checked out us with drowsy eyes. I smiled on the lady, and we exchanged hopeful needs that the children would get some sleep.
Quickly, the conductor stopped by to verify tickets and gather breakfast orders. He additionally supplied the adults mini bottles of Champagne, a sublime contact. After saying goodnight to my husband and older daughter down the corridor, I double-locked our door, and my youngest and I settled into our personal personal cocoon for the following a number of hours.
Whereas the cabin was as clear and comfortable as I anticipated, in some areas, Nightjet fell quick. The pillow was skinny and small, and far to my children’ chagrin, there was no Wi-Fi. The one “towels” offered have been the washcloths from our amenity kits, which made the thought of a bathe unappealing. My daughter took one look on the rest room setup and opted to bathe one other day, however I made a decision to be adventurous.
The bathe and sink shared a single faucet, adjustable in top and operated with a button. I found that the water stopped about each 20 seconds, so soaping up and rinsing off needed to be fast and methodical. Some water pooled on the ground, and I had a couple of moments of delicate panic earlier than realizing the water was draining, simply slowly. Whereas the bathe wasn’t luxurious, the water stress and temperature have been good and the included physique wash was plentiful.
Our household obtained various quantities of sleep on the night time prepare. My older daughter reported that she slept nice. However my youthful daughter and I are night time owls, and it was previous 1 a.m. after we lastly drifted off to a soundtrack of mechanical creaks and clanks mingled with muted Austrian dialect within the subsequent cabin. My husband’s expertise fell someplace within the center. Finally, all of us ended up better-rested than after our red-eye flight to Europe.