REVIEW: Euronight Metropol Train Berlin - Budapest


My trip through Europe on this trip was hastily put together and had no structure for a long time. I simply had a routing that dropped me into Berlin for almost two weeks. Despite being a major city, I didn’t intend to spend the entire two weeks exploring Berlin, so I started looking to branch further out. I considered a few far away locations such as Malta or Lisbon for awhile, but ultimately I decided to keep my travel more localized and booked an overnight train sleeper car to Budapest on a night train sleeper service called the Metropol.

TICKETING


Tickets were pretty easy to secure. I simply went to German rail operate Deutsche Bahn‘s (DB) website and purchased the tickets. The train is operated by the Hungarian rail company MAV, but since the train departed from Berlin I was able to secure the tickets online from DB.

The Metropol night train offers several classes of service, but I opted for the most expensive option – the single private sleeper car. I typically try to be more economical but for my first trip on a train across Europe I really wanted to enjoy some privacy. The ticket cost me €139 one way which I paid on the website. I received a confirmation email from the railway that stated they’d be sending me tickets in the mail and sure enough, two weeks later, I had a letter on my front porch with my tickets. All set!

CHECK-IN / TERMINAL


I took a taxi from the Best Western Spittelmarkt to Berlin Hauptbahnhof, the main train station in Berlin and where my sleeper service to Budapest was departing from. The station was modern and airy, though in the winter that isn’t necessarily a good thing. It was quite cold inside the station and I didn’t take my coat off the entire time I was waiting for my train.

I arrived at the station almost an hour and a half ahead of departure time. This was my first time taking a train trip in Europe and I was a bit unfamiliar with the process and wanted to give myself a buffer. I had the tickets in hand that had been mailed to me months prior, but I was unsure whether these were valid to board the train or simply vouchers to cash in at the train station. I spent a good 10 minutes wandering the station looking for somewhere to speak with a representative from the rail company. Sadly the signage, in my humble opinion, was rather vague. Eventually I did find someone to talk to and they indicated that I simply needed to board the train with the tickets that had been mailed to me.

There’s limited shopping available in the station, as well as a handful of eating establishments. Certainly enough to keep someone entertained for a little while before boarding a train. I wasn’t feeling too great at the time so I ended up stepping into a convenience store to pick up a few snacks for the trip and then slipping into a McDonald’s within the station to use the free wifi.



Fifteen minutes before departure I ventured down to the lowest level and found my train. The train car and cabin number were already printed on my ticket so all I had to do was walk down the length of the train and hop on when I reached my car.

Once on the car I was immediately greeted by the cabin attendant. He was Hungarian and friendly enough, smiling and directing me to my cabin. No personal escort but I don’t blame him since the hallway wasn’t too wide and would have been difficult to manage with two full sized men walking with one pulling a suitcase.

CABIN


Once on the car I was immediately greeted by the cabin attendant. He was Hungarian and friendly enough, smiling and directing me to my cabin. No personal escort but I don’t blame him since the hallway wasn’t too wide and would have been difficult to manage with two full sized men walking with one pulling a suitcase.

CABIN


The cabin itself was quite minimalist. As I mentioned before this was my first experience with long haul train travel in Europe, and I think I was expecting something a bit fancier. Travel is all about rolling with the punches though and I quickly adjusted my expectations and realized I had everything I needed for an overnight trip.

Immediately on my right was the bed which took up the entire length of the cabin wall. The “bed” was really a long bench that would likely seat three people had it not been partitioned off as a solo sleeper cabin. Above the bed on the wall was a padded railing that would serve as a headrest when seated upright on the bed. Above that railing was another bench but it was secured to the wall and I wasn’t able to lower it. It seems that if MAV desired it could easily convert the solo sleeper to a two person sleeper, and I’m sure they do just that.

A large window was opposite the cabin door along with a small propped up table. The table could be lowered by pulling a latch underneath.


On the left hand side close to the window and table was in in-cabin vanity and sink. A bottle of water was left on a rack below the mirror, compliments of the train line. This ended up being quite a good thing as the sink rarely had any water flow available during the trip. An outlet was placed near the mirror but it wasn’t operational.


Also on the left hand side closest to the door was a closet space. There was a blue cloth curtain but in a solo cabin it seemed a bit unnecessary. The closet had only two hangers which worked out well in the winter weather – one for my coat and another to hang up my clothes for the next day and hopefully the rhythmic roll of the train would shake out some of the wrinkles.


The closet was a bit small as you can see in the above picture. I put my small carry on luggage into the closet as well as an overnight duffle bag I was using. There wasn’t space enough for both and the duffle bag had to be propped up against the suit case. My backpack protruded from the closet into the aisle space, but with no one else in the cabin it wasn’t that big of a deal. With more people the space could be problematic though.


There were multiple outlets around the cabin that seemed to accept a few varieties for plugs, but none of them provided power during my trip.

I laid down on the bed almost immediately to gauge its comfort. Mixed bag really – I knew I’d be able to fall asleep on this cushioning, but it might take awhile longer than usual as it was truly barely more comfortable than a wooden board. The linens were decent enough for a single night on a train though the blanket provided was very thin and made it difficult to stay warm at night, especially considering it was January.


Overall the cabin was nice and cozy if a bit bare. In the cleanliness department I had absolutely no complaints. It was a bit run down and the cabin featured a lot of amenities that didn’t function at all, including the outlets and the sink. Space was great for a single traveler but if it had been converted into a two person cabin I’d have felt quite trapped. A minimally comfortable location to spend a night but dated.

SERVICE

The cabin attendant stopped by my room once we departed the station (right on time of course, this is Germany). He wanted to address three things with me:

  • Ask me whether I preferred coffee or tea with breakfast (Tea, thanks.)

  • Ask me to hand over my passport so he could take care of any potential border crossing issues while I slept (That makes me so effing nervous sir but I suppose I’ve handed over my passport to shadier characters so why not.)

  • To provide a pillow.


With that he departed for the evening and I didn’t see him again till the next morning. The cabin lacked a private bathroom, though there was one located at the end of the hallway on our train car. My cabin was in the middle of the car but it still took less than 15 seconds to get there. Despite sharing the bathroom with a train car full of people, not once during the trip did I have to wait for someone to finish before I could use the facilities.


The shared toilet was reasonably clean for a train service. Keep in mind that my last experience with using a restroom on a long train trip was in India, so these facilities looked like a Four Seasons in comparison.


The bathroom here also featured a sink for hand washing and unlike the sink in my private cabin it did have running water.


For some reason the ledge below the mirror is where the toilet paper was stored, which meant any sit down activity on the commode required one to shimmy themselves upward to clean up when finished. Always a fun task when flying down a set of rails in the night at 100 mph.


Also on the far wall was the button to flush the toilet (seen above – it’s the glowing light), more signage warning you about what to do and what not to do, as well as an outlet (didn’t work). The sink required you to press a button to “prime the pump” on the water. Once activated you had about 15 seconds of water to work with. The sign seems to indicate it’s 20 but that didn’t actually happen for me.

I slept quite well for the first half of the trip but had quite an unenjoyable second half. I’ll be explaining why I had such a horrible ride and why my time in Berlin (and Budapest) was ruined in my next post.

About an hour out of Budapest the cabin attendant knocked on my door to drop off breakfast.


He brought me a tray with hot tea just as I had requested the night before. Also available for my consumption was a box of warm apple juice, chocolate cookies, and a chocolate croissant. This was a bit unfortunate for me as I get hives and my face and hands swell any time I eat chocolate. It was a good thing that I wasn’t in the mood to eat that morning, so I ended up slowly sipping on the tea while I watched the sun start to rise over the Hungarian countryside.

We pulled into the station a few minutes behind schedule, and I was ready to experience my first taste of Eastern Europe.

FINAL THOUGHTS

This overnight train service was a bare bones operation. The privacy provided by the room was a God send, though the cabin itself was quite antiquated and rundown. Sleeping was difficult on the hard bed/bench but I did manage to get a few hours of rest in. It was a bit confusing to have things in the cabin that didn’t work such as the sink and outlets. I was never quite sure if they were non-functioning purposefully or due to age/neglect. The service from the cabin attendant was friendly but not overly active. It really reminded me of a flight attendant on a mediocre flight. You get everything you need and with enough friendliness to be happy, but it doesn’t stand out in your mind as a moment when you received actual good service.

In the future I might opt for a lower class of service if I was traveling with less luggage. If I am traveling with a similar amount of luggage I wouldn’t hesitate to book this again. It wasn’t luxurious but it was definitely a step up from a shared space or open seat. Additionally the security provided by having a door that locks is a huge stress relief. An alternative to this train service would have seen me buying a one way plane ticket between Berlin and Budapest as well as an additional night of hotel. I could have saved a few Euros had I gone that route, but I’d have spent a lot of time going to the airport, waiting for the flight, flying, possibly connecting, and getting to the hotel. The train option allowed me to hop on the train and forget about my journey requirements within 5 minutes.

Definitely some pluses and minuses to be considered when taking this route, but I don’t regret my decision and would likely take another trip on this route if the price point and convenience was there.

#europe #train #traintravel #europeantrain #nighttrain #berlin #budapest

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Hello! I'm David - world traveler, food aficionado, gay dude, and storyteller.  This is where I share amazing sights, delicious dishes, LGBT travel advice, & my favorite stories!

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