Few things cause me a panic, however realizing that we had approximately 36 hours to mastermind a plan from Dubrovnik to Munich, for Oktoberfest will! With air travel out of the option, we consulted the Deutschbahn app (German train company). Anna and I determined our best possibility was the overnight train leaving Zagreb the next evening, which was operated by Rail Europe. Problem number 2, covering the 600 kilometers from Dubrovnik to Zagreb without breaking the bank. Old faithful Google, for once, could not provide much in the way of solutions, so after consulting with the hotel concierge we learned that buses depart approximately every hour and could transit us to Zagreb with time to spare. Buscroatia.com is a helpful tool we found after the fact to assist with bus travel between Croatian cities.
The next morning we arrived for the 8 am bus and paid only $15 for the ride north. Plenty of seats were available, leaving plenty of room to spread out and sleep comfortably, for the first few hours. Warning, plan ahead, the bus does not make long stops leaving up to 4 hours between bathroom and snack breaks. After what became a 10 hour ride, which involved building a fort with blankets at our seats, Anna and I arrived in Zagreb.
A city bus later, we arrived at Zagreb Galvni Kolodvor the long distance train station servicing Zagreb. The overnight train is probably my favorite way to travel. We chose the three bunk sleeping compartment, which cost about $80. The compartment was small, but clean and the bunk is outfitted with clean sheets, a duvet and pillow. Just adjacent to the trains station we found Pivnica Tomislav restaurant where we downed a delicious three course meal with the biggest beer available. After dinner, in the only language the waitress and I shared, German, I convinced her to sell us beers to-go for our train ride. After the longest day of our lives, we happily popped our tops as the train pushed out of the station.
The compartment was lockable from the inside and lucky our roommate was a nice girl from Germany. Upon departure the train steward collects your passport, to assist with boarder connections. When you cross into the schengen part of the EU, the Slovenian/Croatian boarder, the immigration official will come to the compartment to ensure proper identity, however this efficient process takes maybe 5 minutes. The ride is comfortable and the jostle of the train rocked us to a peaceful slumber. Approximately 30 minutes outside of Munich the attendant woke us to prepare for departure with coffee and croissants.
We had made it, after a quick nap at a friends apartment we glided into Oktoberfest in dirndls, well rested and ready to drink gallons of beer. The overnight train is an experience every traveler should enjoy once, especially in Europe!
Way too Wanderlust Reccommends
•Bus Croatia: www.buscroatia.com
•Rail Europe: http://www.raileurope.com
•Pivnica Tomislav: Trg Kralja Tomislava 28, Zagreb Croatia +385 1 4922 255 www.pivnicatomislav.com