Tuesday, 22 September 2009

The Rocky Road to Transylvania

Holy fuck did I ever have a shit day. It started at 5am (another early morning, hurrah) in Copenhagen where I successfully got to the airport on time. After that it all started to go pear shaped. First I had difficulty checking in because I had checked in online the night before, but was unable to print out the boarding pass. So I was sent to three different places until I ended up back where i had started and the whole thing could have actually been very simple. Still being in possession of several hundred Danish Krones that I didn't need and couldn't get exchanged, I thought I'd spend some at the airport. For the first time ever I bought one of those massive things of sweeties that you always see in the duty free area, it cost me a fair bit but was still cheap considering it's massiveness. I was looking forward to making them disappear and thinking that so many would last quite a while, but oh no, I left them on the plane, what a stupid bitch.

It was when I arrived in Bucharest that everything became horribly stressful and scary. Firstly I could only change a few pounds into Romanian Lei because they would only accept the English notes, not the Scottish. The people were very rude and unhelpful, which sucked because most of them didn't speak a word of English.

I had read on several places online that the best, easiest, and cheapest way to get from Bucharest airport to Brasov was to walk out to the main road and flag down a Maxitaxi, and that it should cost only 20 Romanian Lei for the trip, which is about €4.70. From the moment I stepped out the door I was hounded by taxi drivers competing for my custom. The first man offered me €200, another €100, one €60, and one €25, they kept trying to haggle and I kept trying to get rid of them. Eventually I was shouting at them and telling them to fuck off and leave me alone, but more kept approaching and were like, "Lady, lady! Where you go?". The worst was one guy who followed me in his car very slowly and shouted at me down the street as I strode angrily away, shouting back and him that I don't give a fuck, please leave me alone. It took a very long time for me to reach the main road because of these arseholes.

I made it to the main road and stood there for about an hour, several Maxitaxis came past but none of them were going the right way, eventually I threw a wee tantrum and walked back to airport, carrying my case the whole way because it's still being retarded. It was also really hot which made it suck oh so much more. The Maxitaxi idea was NOT as simple as the internet had made it out to be, infact it failed on several levels. I was besieged once more by taxi drivers as I went back into the airport, it was bloody awful.

Anyway I found someone inside who spoke a smidgeon of english and told me where I could get a bus that would take me to Gara de Nord, the northern train station. I didn't much like this option because I had heard that the train system is really complicated. Anyway I found the bus straight away, didn't know where to get a ticket, jumped aboard thinking I could just ask the driver, but he was behind a window and the doors shut behind me and the bus started moving, so an hour later I found myself in Gara de Nord, for free.

There were no signs in English in the train station so I sort of had to guess, and again, everyone spoke only Romanian. Amazingly, I ended up with a train ticket to Brasov, for 35 Lei. Fortunately for me, a man must have over heard me, because he came up to me and told me that he was going to Brasov too, and showed me where to go. He was Romanian but spoke some English because he lived in Chicago. I told him I was going to follow him which he was fine with, and stuck with him the whole way. We shared a compartment with another woman who he spoke to while I listened to music and watched the scenery change around me. For a while I felt like I was on the slow train to nowhere, since the trip took over three hours.

Being in Romania feels a little like being back in the Czech Republic, only that it's dirtier, poorer, and has more gypsies. I swear that everyone here has the same face. There's a strange similitude in all the people that makes them all look like they could be related.

Many of the houses in the little towns I passed looked like they were about to fall over, and there were alot of places that looked completely abandoned. It was like everything was built ages ago and then left to fall apart. There was alot of pretty scenery around that, however. At one point, the man told me to come out into the corridor so that I could look at the view, which was of towering, intimidating mountains with a river slithering past. In the end I think it was better to take the train.

I could hardly believe it when I reached the hostel, I would have jumped for joy, had I had the energy. I'm sore all over and I had a headache (which has finally gone, thankfully) and I truly cannot wait to go to bed. The hostel is very nice, feels like being in a big house. They give you a free drink every night you stay, free tea and coffee all the time, free laundry service, and free internet, nice! I think I'll be utilising the free tea and coffee quite alot. So it was an interesting day, to say the very least, but as always, I managed and got where I wanted to be.

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