Day 2, travel from Munich to Budapest by air-conditioned Austrian RailJet train, leaving Munich at 09:27 and arriving in Budapest Keleti at 16:49. A bar-bistro car is available, so treat yourself to lunch!
Travel from Budapest to Bucharest overnight on the EuroNight sleeper train Ister, leaving Budapest Keleti at 19:10 and arriving in Bucharest Nord at 12:10 next morning (day 3). The Ister has a modern air-conditioned sleeping car (1, 2 or 3-bed standard sleepers with washbasin, 1, 2 or 3 bed deluxe sleepers with toilet & shower) and 4 & 6-berth couchettes. A bed in the sleeper is the recommended option, see the photos below. The Ister should have a restaurant car for dinner & breakfast (euros, lei & forints accepted), but the restaurant isn’t always attached, so take some provisions yourself. Enjoy the descent through the wonderful Alpine scenery of the Carpathian mountains between Brasov and Bucharest. Ister is the ancient name for the River Danube.
We arrive on time in Budapest, have a quick dinner, and head for our next train at 6:30 PM. I misread the departure board and we walk to Track 9. An immaculate overnight train is on that track. It is pristine and even has a full dining car, complete with table linens. We look for our carriage number but never find it because this train is heading to Zurich, not Bucharest.
We find the right track and come upon a train made up of mismatched and heavily worn rail cars.There is no dining car and some of the carriages even lack air conditioning. Abby and I are given separate cabins and many of the lights and handles and drains don't work. The night is cool so I leave my window open. It is peaceful and quiet and I don't care one bit that I'm not on the train to Zurich.