To the Alps, part 4: On the right track

This time around Arvils and Elvijs are reporting from their hitchhike to the Alps slightly later, but it also means they've gotten a lot farther. While an adventure or two, as well as mishaps with train schedules saw them stuck in Poland for three nights, now they've already made it to Vienna via several trains, while buying a ticket only once.

It's 3.40 a.m. and we embark on the train. We have to drive three stops but we've talked too much and don't know how far we've gotten. We step off the train and realize we're in the middle of nowhere.

Our train is however approaching the station. We're asked our tickets, and of course we don't have any. This time we swap our "speak Latvian and you'll be okay" method for the "we have no local currency" one. We say we've just arrived in Poland and haven't exchanged euros for zloty, but we have neither in cash.

At last the ticket inspector shrugs and lets us go as far as we need. I fall asleep within minutes. And after so many hours awake my sleep is perfect. I open my eyes only when the ticket inspector shakes us awake saying this is the terminus.

After a ten-minute walk we approach the river that serves as the border. There's nothing testifying to a border between two nations, only a sign in the middle of the bridge saying you're in a different country.

Finally! We're in the Czech Republic. And the next train to Frydek-Mistek arrives in a few minutes.

We take our places and a ticket inspector approaches. The lady does not speak English but quickly finds a fellow passenger to interpret for her. We tell her the same we told on the last train, that we don't have any korunas. This time it's more believable as we're right by the border.

We stop at the terminus only for a little while as the next train to Ostrava departs within a few minutes. An inspector asks for our tickets, to which we reply with our perfected story. We absolutely must get to Ostrava! She is easily seduced by our story and simply waves her head - it's alright, just drive. As we're approaching Ostrava, many mines and factories appear outside the window giving us the impression of a big industrial city.

We have to wait a little for the next train. This time we have to get to Brno, which will take around 40 minutes. The train is an old one, and a surprise awaits us inside - this train has compartments! We sit in one that has a Czech girl to whom we tell about our plans to not buy tickets. Our mistake. As the ticket inspector stepped inside the compartment and asked us for our tickets, the girl -- as we see it, trying to help us -- told the inspector about our intention to drive without a ticket. She immediately told us to step off at the next stop.

We got to a small city, the name of which I forget. The next train to Brno arrives in two hours.

On the train a girl about our age approaches and asks us to produce our tickets. Our usual tricks don't affect her so we have to disembark at the next stop. Soon we have to step off but we choose not to. All hell is raised.

Her superior appears, trying to squeeze money off of us. Both have trouble speaking English so they call a colleague who speaks the language. We talk over the phone for a long time and try to play his feelings by saying that a car taking us back to Latvia is waiting for us in Brno. He says we can buy the ticket online by punching in our credit card data. We agree but as they inspect others' tickets we hide our bank cards. We try buying time, hoping to get to Brno, which is getting nearer and nearer.

Suddenly the manager starts smiling. We're asked our personal data and written tickets for about 400 korunas (€16) that have to be sent to their bank accounts within two weeks. As they tell us how we can pay we've arrived in Brno.

We wait at the station for about 15 minutes -- very lucky minutes, as Elvijs finds 300 korunas on the ground, which is about €12). We go to the platform, and the new, luxurious train travels at 160 km/h. We have to manage to ride two stops and we'll arrive in Vienna. The ticket inspector asks us to buy a ticket to the first stop - at the next stop his Austrian colleague would take over. We pay 206 korunas, planning to ride one stop and not buy the ticket in the next stop as they'd have to drop us off in Vienna.

After a little while an Austrian approaches, asking us to buy tickets. We ask him if we can buy them on the web seeing as we don't have cash. He's very unnerved and tells us he'll call the police and it'll cost us six times more than the ticket, but finally he murmurs that we can go ahead.

We're in Vienna! It's wet and rainy outside, but at least it's warm. At the McDonald's by the station I contact several people on Couchsurfing and Stefa replies almost instantly. We have to ride four stops on the 18th tram where we can stay at her place. After a little while we ring the interphone and ascend five floors.

Stefa, Jana and Amelia are smiling and active students. We make friends quickly seeing as we have similar thinking and thus have a lot in common. They say they don't know anything about Latvia, so we tell a lot about our homeland. The girls promise to show us Vienna. We're on our way to the city center but it's training heavily and we're drenched to the bone within fivue minutes.

The girls are not locals and have been living here for only a little while so we circle around and at times it feels we're lost.

We stop trying to explore the city and go to a nearby bar where we spend several hours chatting about this and that with our new friends. It's a great evening in great company. The rain has ceased so we leisurely walk to the apartment to sleep.

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