A Balkan Train Ride
Is it possible to feel sorry for a train?
Watching this little steam engine freezing in the snow at Bansko station, I almost did…
The steam engine only runs from time to time, but even the regular trains on this narrow gauge railway feel theatrical enough. Almost every station, however tiny, has a stationmaster in full uniform and braided hat, complete with lollipop signal, to see you off.
Frankly, there are many quicker ways to get to wherever you’re going from Bansko than taking the train. It chunters along through snow clad villages towards the terminus at Septemvri at a pace one can only describe as leisurely.
Little rivers carve their way through mountains, valleys and plains.
There are patches of industry, but in the countryside, beehives sit amid the snow-covered pines, waiting for the spring flowers, like they have for centuries.
And when the sun shines, snow clogs the briar branches with cottonwool clouds.
It’s rather a splendid way to travel. Though I would recommend bringing snacks…