But the second I stepped foot in the train station, I had those familiar butterflies in my stomach and an urge to veer off toward the tracks and hop on one of the trains. Maybe one of the BOBs (Bavarian regional trains) headed toward the mountains, or maybe an express train zipping off to Vienna or Budapest. Alas, I wasn't able to give into the spontaneity in that moment, but it made me reflect upon the romanticism of trains and how integral they are to European life.
The truth is that train stations in Europe are NOT charming. They are usually the worst parts of town (if you're not a seasoned traveler, I recommend steering clear of the train station neighborhoods in Europe, even if that's where the cheapest hotels are found - for a reason). Because they're open all night long, they tend to attract a less-than-savory crowd, and they can be kind of cold and dirty. And there's always a McDonalds and that slightly sickening stench of grease in the air. So that's the negative. But then there's the positive... the lines of trains with thrumming engines, ready to head out into the countryside. The vendors, the steaming cups of coffee, the people rushing from one platform to another. The departure board with the long list of far-off destinations and the whir as the name of one destination spins away to be replaced by the next on the board. Men in business suits and woolen overcoats, students wrapped in heavy scarves toting backpacks, hikers and skiers dressed the part and hauling gear over one shoulder, parents trying in vain to keep their little ones from tugging their mittened paws out of their grip and running down the platform... I just love it all. It kind of reminds me of the movie Hugo.