Monday, 28 September 2009

Rome Wasn't Reached in a Day

On my last day in Romania, I decided to do nothing. I thought I would go to Bran, accepting that there was no way I could go to Poenari Castle. It is this which motivates me to one day come back to Romania. I walked all the way across town, bought two local bus tickets, found the bus stop, but in the heat perhaps I felt very lightheaded. My money was dwindling and I was starting to think that if I did go to Bran, which I didn't particularly want to anyway, I wouldn't have enough left for the other things I needed to do. So I went back to my hostel and sat on my arse indoors for a few hours, away from the evil sunlight.

I awoke at 5am the following morning for my bus trip to Rome. When making this booking, it had not occurred to me how long this trip would be. The site was entirely in Romanian so I think I had just been proud of the fact that I had managed to book it, and was never informed of the duration. In the end, this bus trip was just over THIRTY FIVE HOURS long.

It started off well. I had a few provisions, two rings of poppyseed bread, a packet of crisps, and some chocolate. It took twelve hours before we were even out of Romania, and at some point, the road became less of a proper road and more of a dirt road smeared with ashfelt. Many of the people are wildly religious, there were people on the bus crossing themselves whenever we passed a church, and there were crucifixes randomly everywhere on the side of the road. I saw more of the country which I suppose is good. There were many people getting around on horse and cart, we passed loads of those. Small towns with chooks wandering around, stray dogs everywhere, and stereotypical gypsy-looking women; large nose, warts, grizzled grey hair, headscarf, missing teeth etc. My conslusion is that Romania is a weird blend of the old and new, an old fashioned place struggling it's way into the 21st century.

Anyway, for the most part of this lengthy trip, I had been sitting by myself. In fact, no one sat next to me until all the other seats were full, and the only one left was the one beside me.

Eventually I was stuck sitting next to a rather large man, typically. Sleeping, let alot sitting, was extremely uncomfortable. He said he could speak English but he really couldn't. No one on the bus spoke English really, not even the drivers, so I was stuck talking to myself as usual. There were several people who it seemed, didn't know how not to stare at me.

I did drift to sleep every now and then over the night, but awoke ever half an hour or so not because I was on a moving bus, but because of the ungodly pain in my neck. I'd get up and move and my neck and back would make an audible cracking. My knees were also in pain from having to keep them bent, and we had to stop at every fucking station under the sun, and wait at each one for ages. Also, when we crossed the border from Romania to Hungary, the patrol took my passport off me and it was about half an hour before a random girl gave it back to me.

The bus trip, to say the very least, SUCKED, but atleast now I can say that I've been to Hungary and Austria aswell. Astoundingly, my ipod lasted the distance, which ensured I kept my sanity.

Over thirty-five hours later, we finally arrived in Rome. But the fun doesn't stop there!

The bus dropped me off at a random station, and suddenly I found myself stranded somewhere that I had no idea where the fuck I was. I tried asking for help at a ticket desk but the woman didn't speak English. I called up my accommodation who recommend me take a bus, but could I understand the buses, or find the right stop? Of course not.

I approached a random man who couldn't speak english, but I asked him, "Metro?". He took my arm and pointed across the street. I said thank you and crossed the busy road, and soon enough, found myself in a train station. I tried to decipher the confusing train map and by some amazing works of cleverness, I got a train to the central termini station. From there I found my way into the metro to get to Barberini, where I needed to be. It took me ages to find my hostel because there was no sign outside, but in the end, a staff member waited outside and hailed me over. I was eternally grateful to have a comfy place to sleep.

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