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  • Writer's pictureMaria

Sleepless in Glasgow, Onboard the Caledonian Sleeper

Updated: 6 days ago

"We've got good news and bad news". The train car attendant surely felt cute with himself as he stood at the door of our two-bunk private room around five in the morning.

"The good news is, I have your coffee!" We waited, groggy and unimpressed for the bad news. "The bad news is, you're in Glasgow." Shit. The Caledonian Sleeper train was meant to carry me and my best friend Ashley from London's Euston station directly to Edinburgh, where we were to attend Scotland's annual New Year's festival called Hogmanay. This five AM detour was an unwelcomed one.

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The night before boarding, Ashley and I did what most 20-somethings would do and got really, really drunk waiting for our near midnight train departure. We headed to Gordon's Wine Bar near Embankment station - a heralded haven for wine, cheese and atmosphere since 1890. It's interiors were cave-like in structure, a perfect setting for the candlelit wooden tables and intimate atmosphere.

Although, it was anything but intimate as other young ingénues elbowed their way to a crowded bar to order a bottle of wine and a customized cheese board. We were meeting friends from a recent trip to Vietnam I had just made with Contiki tours - a drunk fest in itself - but we had four of us in total, and to be polite, we each ordered a bottle of wine for the table. Four bottles in, we said our goodbyes and stumbled towards Euston station.

Upon arriving fashionably early, as we typically did, we busted out my GoPro and took drunk videos of ourselves sitting on suitcases, drinking 40 ounce beers we'd purchased at the train station snack bar.

After finally seeing our train on the board for boarding, we gathered our wits and our suitcases and hopped on the luxurious train that would take us to Hogmanay. "Hogmanay! Hogmanay!", we chanted in annoying drunk fashion. We were pumped. We settled in to our bunk room quickly, after filming a couple more videos of our state of being, and slumbered away for the next 4 or 5 hours.

Photo of blog owner with large suitcase in front of a train

"We're in Glasgow", his voice rang like a gong in our hungover ears. We looked outside - pitch black. It was December, after all, and there was a bone chilling cold in the air. Rain dropped from the sky with all the might of what we'd drank the night before. Buckets of ice cold water soaked to our skin after we were forced to unload from the train in the wrong city.

Other restless passengers shuffled towards the bus stop, directed to catch a regional train at the nearby station so we could continue our journey to Edinburgh. Ashley took one look at our dripping luggage, the hapless faces of our fellow travelers, and thrust her arm in the air for a passing taxi. It was a brilliant idea, we thought.

No matter the cost, we were not going to stand in the rain with these other peons. "Take us to the station!" We told the driver. He shrugged, a little confused, and obliged. Our bags were loaded and we applauded ourselves for getting dry transportation directly to the next station.

As soon as we'd gotten in and unzipped our sopping wet jackets, the driver stopped. We could have only gone about a mile at most. "We're here". Embarassed, we looked out the window - sure enough, we could have walked this distance. We forked over our cash and made our way to the station, thanking him for his service and wagging our tails between our legs.

Hogmanay proved to be a travel tale in itself, for another time perhaps - full of Tinder romance, men in kilts, Spaniards bearing grapes at midnight, apocalpytic chaos, viking legend and the coolest march of torches I have ever seen. All in all, a trip to be remembered, and it all started on board the Caledonian Sleeper.

Photo of blog owner smiling with ear muffs and a tartan scarf with a crowd of people holding torches behind her

Find more details here:

Caledonian Sleeper:

Rail Europe


Contiki Tours:

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