Have I ever told you about the time I slept with a Russian model while travelling by train to one of the most romantic cities in the world? I haven’t? Right, well sit back, relax, and enjoy the greatest love story the world has ever known.
Before Sunrise is one of my favourite movies of all time. It’s about two attractive young people who have a chance meeting on a train between Budapest and Vienna, and end up falling in love during the course of one impossibly long evening. It’s a brilliant film that explores life, loss and love, so when I made my own trip to Europe, I was determined to have a similar experience while riding the rails.
Unfortunately, the closest I came to finding my soul mate was when a sour-faced Romanian told me to fuck off somewhere in the middle of Belgium, so by the time I stepped onto an overnight train between Munich and Venice, I didn’t hold out much hope for it happening. Then again, I didn’t count on Valerie being onboard.
I noticed her as soon as she stepped onto the train. Shit, it would be impossible not to, because even under a full-length coat it was obvious that her body was incredible. I stepped onto the train behind her and she turned to face me, her stunning face framed by a pair of reading glasses and cascading brown hair. She looked a little lost, maybe even awkward. I was instantly smitten, and almost gave myself a self-high five when she carried her bags into the same compartment as me.
I lay my bags on the top bunk, she lay hers on the bottom, and I lay back for a few minutes wondering what the hell I was going to say to her. I didn’t even know if I’d be able to talk to her – not because I was too nervous, but because we were in the heart of continental Europe, where most people struggle to string a sentence together unless their jabbering away in some foreign tongue.
As the train eased out of Munich and slid through the dark suburbs, the girl disappeared from the room, so I decided it was as good a time as any to find the train’s restaurant and get stuck into the beers. After all, it was a long trip, i was thirsty, and I had a pretty lady to talk to. Turns out there wasn’t a restaurant, so a little bar, but I was able to buy a beer and start drinking it as I headed back to my room.
And there she was, standing in the hallway, looking out the window towards the full moon. Her coat was gone, revealing a body that could (and almost certainly has) brought grown men to tears. I took a pull of my beer, composed myself, and came out with a line I hoped would win the heart of the fairest maiden of them all:
“Not gonna see much out there tonight, love.” Fucking hell, Mr Smooth! Thankfully, she didn’t understand a word I said, and simply looked back at me with a confused look on her face. Bloody hell, she even made being confused look good. I took my second chance with both hands and struck up a conversation with her, and discovered her name was Veleriya, she was from Siberia (and doesn’t know the song Jukebox in Siberia) and it was her birthday. Just talking to her made me feel like it was my birthday and that I was the one getting the presents. I bought her a drink to celebrate and thought I was getting somewhere, when Manny showed up.
Oh, Manny. This slice Americana was about five foot tall and eight foot round, wearing a garish yellow button-up shirt and a dazzling smile. He’d apparently been drinking all day in Munich’s Englischer Garten (as had I) and was on a 15-day train tour through 15 European cities, spending about 10 hours in each. He was looking forward to going to Milan, where he planned to drop a few grand on new clothes (from the look of him, he needed it), but right now he was more intent on getting between me and and the lovely Valerie.
Manny seemed like a nice enough bloke, but I was desperate to get rid of him so that I could give all my attention back to Valerie. She looked bored, but she even made that look good. I was on my fourth beer and trying to get Manny to stop talking about his fucking Fedora when a very strange couple fell through the door and started staggering towards us.
“Hey, we found ze party!” said the bloke, who was bald and skinny, with his eyes sunken deep within his skull. He downed what was left of his beer and dumped it out the window. His girlfriend was fat and English, scoffing a chocolate cake, barely able to stand by herself. Next thing I know I was involved in a group hug, being squished delightfully close to Valerie’s ample chest, an act that would’ve been far more romantic if not for the stench of beer and vomit from the pissheads. I decided to roll with it, and bought myself and my lady friend another drink. I might not have been enjoying the party for two I was after, but it was turning into a party anyway.
We were making so much noise that we were moved along to the nearest vestibule, where a stick-thin and solemn-faced middle-aged woman was standing, clutching a box. As I did my best to slur sweet nothings in the direction of Valerie and Manny did his best to pull down his pants and show me his silk boxer shorts, the drunk couple kept asking the thin woman what was in the box. She kept shaking her head and they kept asking her and I kept drinking and Manny kept being a fuckwit and Valerie kept being the most beautiful woman on the planet, when finally the thin woman let out an exasperated groan and opened the fucking box.
Inside was a dildo. A big one, too, purple, battery operated, flashing lights, the whole shebang. The thin woman’s composition changed and she started waving the purple pussy eater around, bonking Manny on the head with it, and making loud ‘Woop woop woop’ noises. So here I am, eight beers in, trying to chat up a gorgeous chicky babe while dildos are being waved around, drunks are pissing in the corner, and Manny is trying to show off his Hello Kitty socks.
It was all too much for Valerie, who said she was tired and needed to go to bed. When I told her it was my gentlemanly duty to escort her back to her room, Manny looked at me in open-mouthed horror and said, “But dude! We were gonna do shots!”
“Mate,” I said, “get in with the chick with the dildo. I’ve got a feeling that a good-looking, fashionable bloke like yourself is just what she’s after.” And with that, the lovely Valerie and myself headed back to our room. I won’t go into what happened after that, but I will tell you about what happened the next day. After seeing next to nothing during the night trip (not that I was focusing on what was outside the windows) it was great to be able to watch the Italian towns and villages and waterways pass by underneath the early morning sun. I was heading all the way in to Venice’s Santa Lucia, while Valerie was getting off at the earlier Mestre, on the mainland. When the train stopped, she stepped off without saying goodbye. I was probably never going to see her again, and I’d fallen for her, so I leapt off and raced after her, like something out of a romantic comedy. I’d like to say there was a happy ending, but there wasn’t.
As soon as I got close to her I was surrounded by half-a-dozen huge, bearded dudes in suits who yelled at me in some sort of foreign language. I couldn’t understand it, but I knew it wasn’t good, and when I looked at Valerie she just stared at the ground. I started to say something and one of the heavies punched me in the guts, then pushed me back towards the train, which I stepped onto just before it left. The last I saw of Valerie was her being led away by the thugs.
Venice was beautiful, but crowded, and I was in a daze as I walked to my hotel, so I didn’t take in much of it. When I finally found WiFi, I was able to look at Valerie’s profile, which told me two things. Firstly, she wasn’t just a pretty girl, she was a professional model who had worked all over the world (it came as no surprise). Secondly, she was in a relationship with a short, mean-lookin’ dude who owned a 60-foot yacht, a Ferrari 458, and a selection of shiny guns that he didn’t mind showing off all over the internet. Basically, I’d spent the night putting the moves on some Mafia heavy’s missus. So much for romance, eh?