On a bit of a whim, I decided to go to Melbourne this weekend. Due to some scheduling issues — and, okay, nostalgia for my European train travel days — I opted for a sleeper car rather than the faster (and cheaper) Virgin Blue flight.
Thus Thursday night I found myself settling down into Berth 25, Car A of a CountryLink XPT train on the Sydney – Melbourne route. The accomodations were really quite posh, and it took me a bit to figure out why; in fact it wasn’t until I visited the buffet car and turned to back from whence I came, where a sign read FIRST CLASS PASSENGERS ONLY BEYOND THIS POINT. For a moment, I was at a loss. How would I get back to my cabin?
Then I realized: duh. The complimentary newspaper, complimentary hot or cold breakfast delivered to the cabin by my “personal attendant,” complimentary toiletries tote (toothbrush, comb, shampoo, conditioner, soaps, etc.), monogrammed towels for use with the shower (!), seats wide enough that I could stretch across them, two fold-down beds instead of the more common four… These were not the usual accoutrements of economy train travel.
A staffmember confirmed as much when I said “Random question: is this first class?” He gave me the briefest of glances before saying “Yes sir, of course.” “Ok,” I continued, “are there, um, any other classes?” “Certainly. Economy class is located just beyond the buffet car.”
So as you might imagine, this only added to what was already an enjoyable little journey. I was feeling very Cary Grant (with perhaps a dollop of Agatha Christie sans the murder bits) as I stole across the dark Australian night in my posh train cabin.
Oh, and naturally I used the shower. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d taken a shower in a moving vehicle, so I took the opportunity. I chose to take it that night, as my shower was shared with the elderly couple in the adjoining cabin, and I didn’t know if they would favor a morning clean.
But that shower: What fun! It was an engineering marvel, with just enough room to stand (and you can bet that sucker had a traction mat down.) The cramped space was nice when the train jostled a bit, and your wet self bounced around on the walls (if that is, you were not blessed with my own preternatural sense of balance.) At times the lack of space was a tad less convenient: there’s nowhere to go when the water starts, and it starts cold. No worries, though, as it soon enough ramps up to the Centigrade measurement on the dial. (You do know what Celsius temp you like your shower water, don’t you? No? Good thing they have a pleasant default temperature.) Also I’m pretty sure the floor drain just went straight through, as the train noise was pretty loud.
After the shower I ducked into the top bed (just because I could) and slept pretty well until the 6.20 delivery of my breakfast, which I ate while I watched the sky change color.
It was all just a blast and I really enjoyed it.