How I did it: During my stay in Russia (after 3/4 days) I took the sleeper train from St Petersburg to Moscow. It was exciting but VERY cramped, and very difficult to lug heavy cases onto.
Our suitcases took up the whole carriage - there was no floor! *haha* Also, the armed guards bolt your door, don't open it as there was some shouting outside ours and I think someone was thrown off (not from our party). The train starts going very slowly at one point and hungry people will hit your carriage, which can be a little scary - they cannot get in - and very sad - there is nothing you can directly do.
It was very exciting and as you pull into Moscow you can see everyone trudging to work in the snow. It was so amazing and atmospheric, a proper adventure. Read how I did it… 4 years ago
I finally got my sleeper ride; the train was the City Night Line train from Frankfurt, Germany to Milan, Italy. Train leaves at 11 pm, and reaches Milan around 8 am. The train is standard old-ish european compartment sleepers – a 3 seat compartment (3 seats facing a wall) changes into three beds stacked above each other.
What kept this from being as much fun as I hoped? It’s a short trip, the Italian customs guys wake you at 6:30 am to search the train. There’s no space for luggage larger than a standard rollaboard except in the middle of your small compartment. I found the motion of the train made it surprisingly hard to sleep.
Good points? It was still nice to have a bit of privacy and quiet when riding the train. I’d forgotten how much of travel involves not having a place of your own – no real home, no work place, just trying to grab privacy at the hotel, or hanging out in a quiet cafe, or finding the emptier end of the steps in front of the cathedral, or letting your iPod wall you off from the packed car on the train. After a day of wandering around the big city and a four hour train ride, just having a compartment was a nice change. We also enjoyed waking up and opening the curtains a bit so we could see Lake Como roll by. 5 years ago
I did this in Russia and Ukraine. The bathrooms were disgusting and it was actually scary due to the seedy characters onboard and the lack of security. 5 years ago
I have always thought that would b cool ! 5 years ago
It’s not exactly what I would call a good nights sleep, but I suppose almost everything is worth doing once. 5 years ago
Best. Spring. Break. Ever.
I was 16 years old, on a tour with some 150 other Canadian kids. We’d spent 3 days in cold, grey Moscow. By that time, the jet lag and a bit of the culture shock had worn off, and we were positively giddy with the romance of boarding the overnight train to what was then called Leningrad.
To add to our excitement, a gentle snow began to fall as our train pulled out of the station. The view from the windows was breathtakingly lovely, like something out of Dr. Zhivago.
Of course, because we were teenagers (or, in my mother’s parlance, “hormones with feet”), few of us got much actual rest on that so-called “sleeper” train. Many were far too busy guzzling vodka and falling in and out of one another’s arms and/or curtained-off berths.
Me, I didn’t drink, and I was deeply involved with a fellow who wasn’t on the trip, so I remained relatively virtuous. Nevertheless, that magical evening remains one of my fondest high-school memories.
Now I dream of travelling across Canada aboard VIA Rail’s Canadian (“Silver & Blue Class,” of course), and enjoying what’s been called “a cruise on rails.” 5 years ago
I did this in 1981 when I first came to Canada aged 23. Not having much money, I couldn’t afford an actual berth, so I had a chair seat that reclined. From Toronto to Edmonton, 2 nights on the train IIRC. Great experience, but nowadays I’d want an real bed!
Did this more recently in 1999 when I was travelling in Europe with my cousin and daughter when we went from Venice to Hamburg. Having had several rather tangled and confusing experiences with Italian trains, we were relieved to find our sleeper train was German, and very clean and efficiently run. We had a 3-berth compartment (3 beds stacked one on top of the other) and I slept like a baby the whole time, the rocking of the train was very soothing. 5 years ago
sleeper train from france to spain. couldn’t sleep much because of the intense rattling and noise. but it was fun. 6 years ago
I’ve done this five times now, three times in Russia and twice in Finland. It’s always an adventure!
I would suggest that if you’re travelling alone and are female you book a single compartment, as you could end up stuck in a compartment with a load of strange men and feel quite uncomfortable. 6 years ago
This was completed together with the orient express entry on my list. Well worth it!
The first night was a bit strange and took a bit of getting used to the noise and movement as you sleep but the second night was much better and quite soothing! 6 years ago
India had my favourite overnight sleeper trains! 6 years ago
Sleeper cars are SO neat. The way the train rocks you to sleep at night and the sound of it running over the tracks…so relaxing and fun! 6 years ago
I just don’t have the time or money right now. 6 years ago
...from Paris to Munich.
All I can say is, definitely do this with people you know. Mine slept six to a car, with open berths, so complete strangers as bunkmates would certainly have caused me to sleep with one eye open.
I also got motion sick, since you’re lying sideways (head and feet pointing to the left and right sides of the train) so if that’s an issue for you, use accupressure wrist bands (or just get drunk like I did.) 6 years ago
Cairo to Aswan on my 2nd trip to Egypt. Had been on a similar tour before and expected it to be a long long trip in an upright stinky seat but in the 4 years since I had been the last time they had upgraded the train trip to a sleeper!! Yay !!! Was so excited I got all worked up on the train and ran up and down the carriage taking photos of everyone’s sleeper cabins :-)
Gotta do it. Train trips of any kind are awesome but sleeper trips are the best :-) 6 years ago
I’d love to do it more often…with my GirlyBoi. 6 years ago
It was in 1989, from Alicedale (near Grahamstown) to Johannesburg. Second class, six to a compartment with my army buddies. It was very nice, the lap of luxury after months in camp on operations. 6 years ago
1983, I think. I had my Sony Walkman with me, and remember listening to New Order and Visage. The track “Night Train” played as I crossed the Arctic Circle, groggy on painkillers in the half-dark of a summer, Scandinavian night. 6 years ago
From Paris to Zurich. It was cramped for everyone else, but I’m pretty short, so I was comfy. 7 years ago
From Bangkok to Chiang Mai. I actually got a good night’s sleep, I couldn’t believe it! 7 years ago