Today we will visit Romania. We are in Transylvania, winding our way through the Carpathian mountains. We are running late. We are enjoying the lie in. Prague one night and a Romanian rail party the next has taken it’s toll. I elect to keep us all on past Brašov and continue to Bucharest.
Now it may be that they’d have left the door open into the adjoining first class carriage and allow us to use the shower there even if we hadn’t shared our booty and tipped heavily the night before. And it may be that with a modest contribution we could have flouted Romanian Railway rules and stayed on a train that we hadn’t technically booked onto. But may be not. Either way, while NSB in Norway are a fine lot, CFR in Romania are a great bunch to hang out with.
It’s a lovely day in Romania. Fields and fields of sunflowers, people farming with horses, Romany kids smoking fags, sail past our window. We are then treated to the stunning views around Sinea and Predeal. We arrive at the capital a convenient three hours behind schedule at 3pm.
We dispense with the bags and see what can be done. I am the only one of the group with any previous in Romania. I feel like I’m introducing a wayward old friend. Bucharest was barely more than a recently vacated war zone in the early 90s. I warn the group to be on their mettle.
As it turns out, the old girl isn’t as scary as she was all those years ago. The tourist cafe zone is easy walking distance from Gara Nord and we have a pleasant evening. A slap up meal is had outside an establishment that boasts the most opulent of interiors. The staff dress code for waitresses includes what can only be described as a Wonderbra double plus. We tip well. A party make a close up inspection of Ceaușescu’s monstrosity. We return to Gara Nord for our “ghost train”.
The Bucharest to Sofia sleeper we are about to get has the most questionable reputation of any train on the trip. It doesn’t even exist on any online timetables. Contacts in both Bucharest and Sofia have dealt us dire warnings as to what is likely to happen to us.
But it is an excellent train. Large cabins of only two tiers of amply sized beds. Ornate carpets like a Russia flat. And a samovar in the corridor. I get to unload my entire Russian vocabulary in the direction of the carriage attendant.
So far so good. We’ve done Czechia, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania on our Eastern-Bloc Odyssey. Nobody has freaked out so far. Bulgaria, and the former Yugoslavian states of Macedonia, Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia and Slovenia lie ahead.
Start: Having a shin dig in a Romanian train bar
Train 18 – sleeper to Bucharest, continued from Budapest
Train 19 – 23:00 Bucharest to Sofia
Finish: On the way to our final crossing of the Danube and to Bulgaria
Also on this day
Paul’s Photos http://www.flickr.com/photos/paul_clarke/sets/72157634617746809/
Lloyd’s Blog http://www.lloydshepherd.com/2013/07/13/day-8-a-travel-happening/
Darren’s Blog http://blog.darrenf.org/2013/07/when-in-romania.html
Dave’s Blog http://disorientateddave.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/slow-train-to.html and http://disorientateddave.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/bucharest-and-on.html