I got on the train in Bucharest at 7 pm and left at 8 am the next day.

This is the reason why I would choose to spend nearly 14 hours on a train that looks and feels like something that carried dissidents off to Siberia in the time of Stalin.

train sign says Chisinau - Bucuresti
The train to Chișinău, Moldova, departs from the Gara de Nord train station in Bucharest, Romania.
Charles Davis/Insider

The reason one would choose this mode of transportation, aside from getting a story to tell, is to be frugal. There is a bus that costs just over $26 and it has a stated journey time of eight hours.

The train I fumbled my way onto is an old train. It is not modern. The ride is not as smooth as you might think. It feels like there are problems.

It isn't barbaric.

Four people sleep in the cozy quarters that are attached to a hallway. Each bed has two numbers above it, and your ticket has one of them. I didn't find mine. I eventually found a bed that someone else had already decided was theirs.

hallway on train
Around 40 people sleep in each train car.
Charles Davis/Insider

I was provided a mattress with stains about which the less said the better, a pillow with an odor of detergent, and sheets that were clean. It is fine.

There is a bathroom. The bathroom is also fine. What about the dining car? There is no. If you don't bring your own food and water, you will be hungry and thirsty.

Privacy and sleep are the real issues.

If you want to fall asleep, you need peace, quiet, and a bed that does not sway and violently rock as if the train decided to become an off-roading Jeep traversing the roughest terrain in Eastern Europe.

view from top bunk
Is the top bunk better? It depends. Getting down is easy, but getting back up is a climb — and requires stepping on the bed below.
Charles Davis/Insider

Pure exhaustion will not put you under. We arrived at the border between Romania andMoldova, which is not a member of the European Union. An agent boarded the train and collected everyone's passport, but do not put your passport somewhere you have never put it before, frantically searching for it before the agent gets to your door, to the amusement and slight concern of the three grown men sharing.

The agent came back with the passports. There was a stamp with a train on it. Cute.

I thought I would be able to go back to sleep after 1 a.m.

Travelling by train is so romantic, they said.
Charles Davis/Insider

It is false. It was inaccurate. We just left the country. We were going into Moldova.

An agent boarded the train again. They asked a question and got off the train. They came back an hour later. I was getting into a rhythm.

If you are still trying to sleep on this train, you could try to go back to sleep.

It's just kidding. They change the wheels. Not every country has the same width rails, which is why you have to change the wheels on the trains. The popular explanation is that this was an effort to stop foreign invasions. After 3 a.m., I learned this.

How do they change the wheels? Who knows? I am not an expert on trains. It felt like the off-roading train-Jeep had popped its tires and the driver was now continuing, obliviously.

bathroom sink
The bathroom is ancient but clean.
Charles Davis/Davis

The 20-something guys in the room next to me might have been playing cards, consuming booze, and listening to a mix of pop and electronic dance music.

By 4 a.m. I fell asleep. Before we arrived, a man shook me and told me to get up in either Russian or Romania. I felt like a teenager when he was late for school, but I don't know if he was an employee or a passenger.

It was 40 minutes before we arrived. What the heck? I hit the snooze button. You are not my real dad.

top bunk
This is your view for the evening.
Charles Davis/Insider

Five minutes!

A man who definitely worked for the train company woke me up, but he seemed disappointed. I didn't see the big deal, but I gathered my things.

When I arrived at the station in Chi, I thought it would be the new train, according to my translator, Andrei Rusu.

The new train was not an experience.

Do you have a news tip? C Davis is the reporter for Insider.