Tue August 6, 2013
NPR Story

Vacation Horror Stories: Train Troubles In Budapest

Originally published on Tue August 6, 2013 7:25 pm



You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

It's time now for another one of our cautionary listener travelogues, also known by the catchier title...





SIEGEL: ...Horror Stories.

DORIE PICKLE: My name is Dorie Pickle. I live in Austin, Texas. If my parents are listening, I urge you to turn off the radio. I believe I've never told you this story.


PICKLE: Back in 1998, I was in college, and I was travelling in Europe before doing a study abroad course in London. I was with two friends. We were traveling by train from city to city. And I had been to Europe the summer before, so I had some false confidence about my travel experience. We were told that the midnight train from Prague to Budapest was a little bit sketchy, but I figured I had plenty of experience, and I could really handle it.


PICKLE: We got on the train. We sat in a smoking car, and it was about 1 a.m. I lit up a cigarette next to the sign that had a big picture of a cigarette with no line through it, which I took to mean the universal sign that it was OK. Just a few minutes later, some security guards came into the train car, and they pointed at my cigarette, said no smoking. Of course, I pointed to the sign and tried to make my case, but they would have none of it. They asked for my passport, and they pointed to my things, told me to follow them.


PICKLE: And keep in mind, it's 1 a.m. in the middle of nowhere. We're about 30 miles or so outside of the city of Prague, and so we're in the countryside. It's the middle of the night. It's pitch-black.


PICKLE: I'm following them down the hallway of the train car.


PICKLE: And we get to the door of the train. They tell me that there's a police station at the next stop. I really felt like that was not possible because we're in the middle of nowhere. And even if there were, I did not want to go to the police station or get off the train.


PICKLE: So while I'm sitting there, they have me by my arms. I have my backpack. My friends have been told to stay put in the train car. My mind is scrambling, trying to figure out kind of what to do. So I reached into my travel pocket, wallet, got all the cash that I could find, handed it to them. They took the money and pushed me down.


PICKLE: At that point, I was so scared I could barely walk. I got back to the train car. I got my girlfriend, and we went to the bathroom. When we got to bathroom, I started telling her everything that had happened and how I had bribed them with money and that we needed to get off the train. At that very moment, I looked over, and there were two very well-hidden holes in the wall of the bathroom, on the other side of which was a train security official looking in at us.


PICKLE: We immediately started screaming. We took as much toilet paper as we could find off the floor and stuffed it into the holes and immediately got off the train and onto the next train to Vienna.


PICKLE: To this day, my parents have not heard that story, and I hope it stays that way.

CORNISH: Listener Dorie Pickle of Austin, Texas, with her Vacation Horror Story. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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