If you have read my other posts, you may know I visited Ukraine while travelling around Eastern Europe. Ukraine was a detour for me. A good one, but also one that messed up my schedule, which meant I had to travel a good 500 kilometers (300 miles) from Chernivtsi, Ukraine to Bucharest, Romania in one day by taxi, bus, train and metro. I prepared for a rough trip, and that’s exactly what I got.
am I going back in time?
My day started early. Especially for me as an evening person, waking up at 4:30 AM was rough. Travelling from Chernivtsi in Ukraine, I had to get a cab to the train station. Obviously the driver did not speak a word of English, so I practiced the words ‘bus station’ (автобусна зупинка, try it) over and over and hoped for the best. Luckily I got the best, arriving at the station well in time for my bus to Romania. Finding the right bus was rather difficult, however. Not a single bus had the destination on it that was on my ticket, so there was nothing else I could do than ask every single person where to go by showing my ticket. The fact that three guys pointed left and another three pointed right didn’t really put me at ease.
After a while I found the bus, or should I say old crappy mini van? The ‘bus’ was filled with old people giving me death stares and it was hard to fit my backpack in as the place was already filled with crates full of food and a lone chicken. Still not sure whether I was in the right bus, I constantly checked my phone, which luckily had working GPS. Thankfully I was actually moving toward the Romanian border in stead of, say, Chernobyl. I noticed lots of horse and carriages on the way to the border. In fact, I only saw a few cars and most of those were probably more than 50 years old. It was interesting to see. I wish I had more time to travel around the country and get to know the culture a bit better.
”The driver noticed confused me sitting there, paused for a moment, and finally barked “PASSPORT” at me,,
When we got closer to the border the driver started telling a story to the passengers which took him about 5 minutes. People started searching their luggage and taking things out. Obviously I had no idea what was happening and wondered whether I needed to take my luggage out to have it checked. The driver noticed confused me sitting there (to be honest I was constantly stared at), paused for a moment, and finally barked “PASSPORT” at me. Okay man, take it easy, I’ll grab it. I will probably never know how a 5 minute story in Ukrainian can be just one word in English, what did I miss?
oh romania .. don’t kill me please
When I finally got to Suceava, Romania, things started to get a little bit weirder. Although the town had a train station with a direct connection to Bucharest, people didn’t seem to be seeing a lot of tourists there. That, or I was wearing a clown’s nose without noticing it. Either way, it was uncomfortable being stared at. Whereas in some countries people stare at you but also smile, I felt slightly unwelcome here.
”I was surrounded by a group of elders who had all seemed to have eaten a few kilograms of cauliflower,,
Still, nothing against Romanian people, as they did point me to the train station, which happened to be at exactly the other side of the city as the bus station was. Luckily I had plenty of time to walk there, which I could definitely use. Thankfully I was watching the ground while walking, because I almost walked right into a manhole without any cover on it. I’m not sure how deep it was, but it must have been more than 2 meters. After all my adventures in Eastern Europe, this was probably my biggest scare. Had I not paid attention to where I was walking, I could’ve broken a leg at the very least and died if I landed in an unfortunate way. After the first manhole I found a few more on the way to the train station, even right in front of the station itself. It is beyond me that the local government does not close these, even if locals are used to them being there.
travelling with the cauliflower gang
After another long wait, it was time to get on my train to Bucharest. Although it was direct, I was kind of dreading it, as it was about 6 hours and you never know how comfortable it is gonna be. Turns out, it wasn’t that comfortable. Being quite tall (6”2/1.87 m), I was absolutely cramped into my seat. To make things worse, I was surrounded by a group of elders who had all seemed to have eaten a few kilograms of cauliflower right before the train departed.
The smell was quite bad (and no, I’m not a spoiled tourist that can’t take anything, it was genuinely bad). To make things slightly bearable, I decided to nickname them ‘the Cauliflower Gang‘ and started thinking of names for all members of the gang to kill some time and think of something else than the smell. The biggest guy of the group right in front of me was King Cauliflower, who had a bad cough and didn’t really bother covering his mouth. Oh well..
bucharest makes things up
After a long, long trip I finally reached Bucharest. Just a 45 minute metro ride was left to get to the hostel and honestly, I did not mind it eventhough I had been travelling for about 16 hours at that point. It was nice to see the typical city life that seems to be similar in most European cities.
”Things were weird at times, but I will definitely be coming back,,
After a quick nights rest, I had about 5 hours to spare in the morning until my plane to London left. I decided to explore the city of Bucharest, which was honestly quite nice. Still, even here I ran into some .. interesting .. things. Bucharest is the proud owner of the ugliest statue in the world (as voted by the people theirselves, so not my words). On top of that, apparently an old Dutch music group is quite popular over there, as I saw banners and posters all over the place. Quite weird, as they just sing in Dutch and are mostly known by Dutch people above 50 years old (and me). To put it in the nicest way possible, they were kinda past it, even back in the Netherlands.
Alright, I basically only had 24 hours in Romania and had some weird experiences. Although this post might come across a little patronizing towards Romania, I definitely don’t mean it that way. Things were weird at times, but I will definitely be coming back in the near future, as I want to discover more about the Romanian culture and most of all, visit Transylvania and Bran Castle (Dracula’s castle!). Romania, I’ll be back!