The famous Bohinj line or Transalpina as the Italians call it is a railway line, built between 1900 and 1906 to connect Europe with the Adriatic Sea. It is a 158 km long part of the Prague-Jesenice- Gorizia-Trieste line which in whole stretches 717 km. The name is actually too broad, since the Bohinj line is – when strictly taken – only the part from Jesenice to Gorizia. Slovenia put an old German steam engine onto the tracks, added renovated museum carts and started taking tourists for one hell of a ride – and a dirty one too, since soot is just about averywhere you touch 😀
We got on in Ljubljana. The steam engine was quite a contrast to the new trains full of grafitti. In Jesenice, the engine was placed on the back of the train in order to continue towards Bled, which meant that it would be turned bacwards. It looked funny. Not really what I’d want for my photos (this was done for NG Traveler). And off we went to Bled Bohinjska Bistrica and through the mountains into Podbrdo – the famous Bača gorge I spoke so much about in previous pots. The engine is actually one of the world war ones, but you gotta hand it to the Germans – they could built fifty of them in a day. It’s not really as fast as shit of a shovel, it’s no TGV, but believe it or not, on a straight rail it’s as fast as any other train in Slovenia. It transported Jews to concentration camps, and soldiers to Russia for example, but they built it so that it can also drive backwards with the same speed. And this same engine helped rebuild Europe after the war.
In Most na Soči, we stopped for two hours to grease the wheels and the undercarriage by going under the engine. And just like that, in days when there’s so mch talk abot me working for the Discovery and being crazy enough to work for Dirty Jobs, I find myself under the steam engine, grease dripping on my head. I’m dirty as a mineworker for climbing into the engine-shed cabin etc…
We stopped for more than five hours in Gorizia. It was about two o’clock and I didn’t really have any good photos yet. My camera was really screwing with my head (turned out the photos were better than I expected – I guess there are days when I just push my criteria waaaay to high). I had this amazing bad luck all day, even finding something to eat in Gorizia was mission impossible.
Ever been divided between two countries? Physically? Well, come to Gorizia. The town is divided into the Slovenian and the Italian part. This is actually the border in the middle of a square just outside the train station.
But the best was yet to come. From Gorizia to Sežana, I joined the engine driver and the fireman in the engine… OK, THAT was a dirty job. It was a loud, dirty, hot, filled with smoke and bumpy ride. On one occasion smoke filled the entire cabin, and surely enough the guys had a window each, so they could stick their heads out to get some air. Yeah, I had none. 😀 On another occasion, the fire jumped out of the chamber and stretched all the way to the back of the cabin. It was more than half an hour of piercing high-pitched sound everytime the train passed a bridge, a road crossing etc… And more than an hour of shoveling coal into the stove.
Not the publishable photo, but this is what it was like. Crowded, hot, smoke-filled, and very bumpy. Things went down fast when it was time to shovel in some coal.
The night attraction of the steam engine are the burning cinders flying out of the chimney, over the carts and onto the trees and bushes by the railroad. No wonder there was so many forrest fires back then. I tried to photograph it, but it was impossibe to stand outside when the bigest burst of cinders came flying in. Well, impossible without getting burned. I got a burning cinder on my head the first half an hour I was on the train – yeah, in the morning. So I just stretched my arm out the door, my camera in hand and I did what I could do. 😀
However, this is just one half of the story. There’s another mission related to this train coming up. And I know what you’re thinking. Where are all the engine driver photos etc. In the selection. 😀