Croatian Trains

They’re something else and to say that they have “character” isn’t saying enough.

Compared to the routes Amtrak has been banished to, the Croatian trains cover some amazing areas through the Croatian countryside. It’s fun to watch as you twist through river valleys, over snowy mountains and past the various towns and cities that pop up along the way.

Of course, from long before I ever took my first train anywhere in Croatia, I was wise to this oddness of them. My aunt who visited the former Yugoslavia in 1980 told me that the train conductors love to mess with the tourists by holding on to their passports until the very last minute the train leaves the border.

While I never had anything that extreme, I did have adventures last year when I took the train. I only have a few new stories to add this year.

The first one is that the train still isn’t running all the way from Zagreb to Split. One year later and no change! Yes, you can take a bus from Split to Knin and then take the train, but that does little good to sate you on the fact that the tour guides talk about this tilting train that does the trip in five hour now. I’m guessing sometime soon this will be up and running, but as of yet, no dice. So, the bus is the way it is. It’s not bad by the way, but it’s just no train.

My other fun bit was when we took the train from Zagreb to Ljubljana to catch our flight out of there. The car we were in had a buzzing sound. Not just a little fluorescent kind of hum mind you. It was this screaming, grinding sound which got increasingly louder as the train accelerated. We asked the conductor about it with hand gestures showing something like a swarm of wasps buzzing around us and he flicked some switches at the front of the car. Nothing really change and he came back saying in English, “Do you speak German?” which of course we don’t and he shrugged, said some things in Croatian which the girlfriend and I both got to mean there wasn’t anything he could do about it. Luckily we still had our earplugs from the San Francisco–London plane which came in mighty handy for that two hour ride.

Needless to say, we didn’t hear sounds from a certain spectrum for the rest of the day.