Bucharest not my favorite place.
Sep 03, 2011
Romania was not very impressive. It was amazing how much difference one country is from the other when they are so close and both in the European Union. I arrived in Bucharest which is the capital of Romania at 6 in the morning. It was a pretty long and miserable ride from Belgrade to Bucharest. It was approximately a 15 hour ride. Stopping at every little train stop along the way and a very long wait crossing the border. A border patrol agent came on the train and took my passport into the customs building to run a check on it and then came back with it stamped and ready to go. All is well i thought as I laid back down across the 3 seats of the supposed "sleeper train" attempting to get comfortable which was impossible. I figured surely we would be leaving the border any minute when another agent came on and asked me to get up so he could search my cabin for drugs and what not. He left with out finding anything obviously and then another agent came on shortly after with a search dog. Later I learned that drugs were not the main thing being looked for. It turns out they were looking for cigarettes. Serbia apparently has the cheapest cigarettes in Europe and smuggling them across the borders is a big business. I was talking to some other backpackers and their train got held up for almost 5 hours because over 5000 packs of cigarettes were found and the train was completely strip searched. I was glad my train was only held up for an hour. Ok back to arriving at 6 in the morning after the long miserable train ride, it was freezing cold and I was super tired. I had a feeling this would be the case so before I left Serbia I searched www.hostelworld.com and saved the directions to a hostel that was within 15 minutes walking time from the train station. There was taxi driver after taxi driver offering rides as soon as I stepped off the train and I walk everywhere I can to save money. It gets a little frustrating but you just have to ignore them and make your "no" very clear. There were also beggars everywhere and that also tends to make people nervous but you have to walk strong and just ignore them as well. Some of the people that showed up to the hostel were saying how scared they were and how they just gave in and got a taxi without being able to negotiate a price. They got ripped off. This is not a smart thing to do. You should always negotiate the price before the ride and if they do not speak English, find one that can. If you are not having any luck finding a driver that speaks English look for a respectable looking local that will help you set the price with a taxi driver. I never once felt nervous or scared only tired and cold. They say Bucharest has a lot of nice things to see but I had no luck finding any of them. The people were not near as nice as the people in Serbia or any of the other 25 countries I have been to for that matter. Two nights was more than enough time for me in Bucharest. I tried to book a house stay with a family who would let travelers come stay and work on the farm where they lived outside the city but had no luck getting in touch with them so I decided to go ahead and catch a bus to Bulgaria. The hostel was a long way from the bus station so I gave myself what I thought would be plenty of time to get there and find a bus headed south. I got lost a few times and struggled finding someone that could tell me where the bus station was but I finally found it and they said the next bus would be leaving in 2 days. Seriously?! I then decided I would head back to the train station not knowing exactly where it was but I did know I was a long way from it. The first people I asked for directions were unbelievably nice compared to the rest I had spoken with or tried to speak with. Shortly after talking to them I found out they were not from Romania but from the bordering country of Moldova, ha imagine that I thought to myself. It was a guy and a girl. They were cousins and the guy was about to get on the bus and head back home but Nina was living in Romania and just seeing him off. She explained how she would really like to help me but she didn't know how to give me walking directions but she could give me a ride in her car. After I said how awesome that would be she told me she was honestly very scared of giving me a ride and asked if I was crazy or if I had a gun. Haha I am not crazy in a bad way I exclaimed and I definitely do not have a gun! I was thinking to myself would you really trust any person that tells you they are not crazy and they don't have a gun enough to let them ride in a car with you being a girl all alone? I could tell she still didn't seem real sure about me. She went over to some taxi drivers and talked to them a minute and returned to me telling me how she really didn't feel safe at all doing this but she is a very nice person and she likes doing good things for people. I told her if she was that worried about it then it would probably be better if I just walked. She said I hate for you to walk and told me she wanted to help me so I pulled out my passport and showed her my name and picture and explained the big bushy beard and how I am just a traveler and don't want to hurt anyone and I showed her how many stamps my passport had. She had a talk with her cousin before he got on the bus and she then said ok I will take you to the train station. I then put my backpack in the trunk of her car and climbed in. She told me to keep my hands where she could see them at all times. I fastened my seatbelt and asked her to put her seatbelt on as well because the traffic and drivers were crazy. She explained to me how she was not going to where her seatbelt so she could jump out of the car faster if she needed to incase I was dangerous. Ok that's fine, I said and seeing how nervous you are I am definitely wearing mine! We had a great conversation all the way to the train station and when we were pulling up she said "you are a very nice guy" and then asked if I had Facebook and if I would be her friend so she could follow my pictures around the world. I just received an email message from her saying how much better I looked in my pictures. Haha this is probably one of the most honest girls ever. I know there are some very nice people in Romania but it just seemed weird to me that the nicest person in Romania I met was from another country. Meeting Nina from Moldova made my trip to Romania a great experience.