Sept 14, 2019 – Zagreb, Croatia
We left from Munich on the EC 113 train to Zagreb. I made Sabudana Khichadi in the morning as Anu likes it but Keshav doesn’t and he was off on his office trip. After breakfast, both Krishnan and I got ready, completed packing and left from home by 10.40 am. The bags have gotten heavier since I have stocked some supplies in Munich and bought a few items as well. We should be lighter by the time we leave for India.
Anu came with us to the station and thank God she did that as we would have struggled a bit to push the two suitcases and the overnighter. As we reached platform 14, we didn’t see our train mentioned, so Anu checked on the DB app and found out that the platform had been changed to 21. There were some people distributing yellow cloth bags to everyone as some company was celebrating 222 years ! We each got a bag as it was really good quality and convenient for shopping. We went to platform 21. The train was delayed a bit, but once the train reached the platform, we quickly got on as Anu helped to load one of the bags. The cabin floor had bottle caps and some cola or beer had been spilled all over the floor :(. We sat in the middle seats to avoid getting that sugary liquid sticking to our shoes, especially my new Ecco shoes.
The first co-passengers were a German couple who spoke very little English, but we had a great conversation with limited vocabulary. They live near Frankfurt and were going to Salzburg for a week’s holiday. When Krishnan removed his shoes and then put his feet up on the seat, the husband was happy and commented that it was a good practice to not put one’s feet up with shoes. I told him in India in most households, we leave shoes outside and then get in. They apparently do the same in Germany. He and his wife had been dating for three years before marrying and they were married for 7 years. When we said we had been married for 29 years they were a little taken aback as they were 53 and 55, both older than me and younger than Krishnan :). We asked them if we can call some number to get the cabin cleaned, but there was no such service…. Unlike the Indian Railways where we can tweet or call a number to get the AC fixed or the cabin cleaned. Felt good sharing that information.
They got off at Salzburg and for some distance no one came to sit with us. Then a young couple got on, for just a couple of stations. They didn’t talk much. After them, an elderly couple came and sat down and seeing my saree, the first question was whether we were from India. When we said yes, they said they had lived for three years in Mumbai from 1998 to 2001. The husband said they lived in an apartment in the same apartment complex as Dilip Kumar did in Mumbai ! Now what are the chances of meeting a German man who has worked in Mumbai and lived near Dilip Kumar ? He worked or still works for Bayer and I told him his company was a client at Aon Hewitt. They were going trekking, so they got off in the next station.
Then came a Dutch couple who had spent a couple of nights in Delhi as they transited to Manali. They were also co-passengers for a few stations. When they got off, three young Indians got on board – MBA students at IIM Ranchi who are on an exchange program at Lyon France. We got talking as we entered Slovenia. They were getting off at Ljubljana (pronounced as LyubLyana, replace “j” with “y”). The ticket checker told us that we too had to get off at Ljubljana as the train was being stopped there for some repairs. We had booked this particular train to Zagreb as it was a direct train and we didn’t want to make any changes, but as luck would have it we had to make a change. The MBA students offered to help with our suitcases and it was truly helpful having them around. I have given them my card and hopefully they will drop in a line. If not for Aditya, DevShekar and Devina, we would have again struggled to shift the suitcases from one train to the other. They easily lifted the two suitcases and put them into the next train that was standing in the opposite side on the same platform at Ljubljana.
We didn’t get our reserved seats and just sat down in one of the other cabins. Had to keep the bigger suitcase outside as there were other luggage kept on the racks above. There was a couple going to Zagreb and a single lady who was getting off in the middle. All were very friendly. As we got close to Sevenica, the Zagreb lady told us that Melania Trump was from Sevenica ! I took a picture of the railway station as a keepsake :).
The Zagreb lady works as a elderly care nurse and she said many of the younger folk were leaving Croatia as the opportunities were better outside. Her own daughter is trying to get a job elsewhere. We showed them the address to the Airbnb and they told us to walk it down as it was very close to the railway station. The wife warned us not to take a taxi because the taxi guy could take us for a ride. That would have been something …. Indians being taken for a ride by a taxi driver in a Western country.
We reached Zagreb’s train station, Glavni Kolodvor by 8.51 pm a couple of minutes ahead of schedule. The station had no escalators or lifts and we had to get down a flight of stairs and use the underground passage to cross over to the exit where we had to climb a flight of stairs. Our good karma came in handy here too and all the “paying forward” that Krishnan had done as a young man by lifting bags for older people during weddings or at railway stations came in handy as a young tourist asked me if he can help with the heavier suitcase. He lifted it easily and took it down the flight of stairs and then when I was struggling a bit to lift it up the stairs on the other end, the same young man came and lifted it effortlessly to the ground level. We walked out of the station to find the same couple who were our co-passengers standing outside. The husband showed us the way to get to our Airbnb and it was an easy walk.
Once we got to the Airbnb and rang the bell, the owner Mirko came down to help us with the bags. The apartment is on the second floor and there is no elevator, so the help was much needed. Our good Karma continued to help us. The Airbnb apartment was beautiful – truly well stocked with all the things one needs and Mirko was super helpful with the map etc.
We ate the balance of the Pulihora that Anu had packed for us and I ate a couple of bread slices that Lili and Mirko had kept for us. Then I made tea using the Al Natura Milk concentrate – truly worth the buy. We were really tired so slept off by 10.30 pm.