Bring me to Bucharest

Six PM on a Friday night.  My tweet reads, “Can’t bloody sleep.  Next time I decide to take a trip which sets off in the middle of the night in the middle of winter someone please remind me it’s a really SHIT idea”.Eventually I fall sleep on my face and when my alarm goes off at midnight my first thought is that I am going to work.  It’s a reasonable assumption, given the amount of time I spend in the office.My second thought is the weather.This is the week that the UK has been hit by something called The Beast from the East.  In other words, snow, snow and more snow.  I have spent two days of this week taking buses and then walking six miles (three each way) to the office.  The final day I took a day’s holiday, given that I wanted to get organised for my trip and also needed to go to bed early.Before I lug my lardy lady ass out of bed and in to the shower, I check the National Express website for news.  My heart sinks.  As of 6:30pm the previous evening, “Luton Airport Coach Staton” is, it declares,”NOT BEING SERVED”.Bollocks.BOLLOCKS.  BOLLOCKS.  BOLLOCKS.I don’t know what to do.At this time of the morning there is no one to call to find out what’s what.I go downstairs and ask the cat for advice.  She just shrugs at me and demands food.In the end I decide that I need to press on as normal.  At least then I’ve tried.My taxi makes it on to my street, despite it being a solid block of ice, and then heads in to town.  I sit and wait for my coach.And wait.And freeze my tits off.And wait a bit longer.At last the coach arrives and I explain my predicament to the driver.He’s surprising helpful and tells me to hop on the empty coach (which is totally toasty, thank fuck) and he will call someone who is up at this godforsaken hour who will tell him whether Luton Airport Coach Station is now open or not.He puts his phone on hands-free and it dials out for what seems like forever.  And then I know.  Luton Airport Coach Station is back open!Thank crap for that.Six hours later, I arrive.I hotfoot it through security, stuff my face on posh eggs on toast and then leave on a packed and slightly late flight.I really can’t grumble, given the circumstances.Finding the bus to Bucharest city centre from the airport is easy enough but at this point I am already asking questions.  I had been warned that public transport was not efficient or user-friendly.  But the bus, albeit a little slow, is fine. Buying a ticket from the kiosk is easy enough and I swipe it on the machine on board and follow the stops on the LED sign on board.  Easy peasy.I alight at the stop nearest the Old Town and head off to find my accommodation.  Admittedly this does not go to plan since the square (Piata – pronounced Piazza) that I arrive at is about sixty times bigger than it appears to be on the map.  I am disorientated to say the least.But eventually after a lot of to-ing and fro-ing and double-backing in the Old Town – and being asked several times whether I want something to eat and/or drink by people bundled up like eskimos standing outside their establishments, which I find slightly strange, given both the the time of year and time of day – the fact that they’re touting, not that they’re wrapped up warm – I finally manage to locate my accommodation.Heading in to the foyer I am met with a pile of debris and a waft of cabbagey-smelling drains.  This does not bode well.I am given a warm enough welcome on Reception and shown to my room but I have to be honest, when I see where I am staying, I sigh.  It really isn’t great.  To be fair, it isn’t terrible either.  I guess it’s been a long old day and I just want everything to be easy.  Given that I’m staying three nights I decide I’m going to try to unpack what few belongings I have brought with me.  However, there are no drawers and although there is a wardrobe, there are no coathangers.  I usually bring a couple with me but had decided not to on this occasion.  I chuck my jeans and a couple of jumpers on a tired-looking armchair.  Everything else stays in my bag.In the bathroom there is a sign declaring that “toilet paper, sanitary napkins, phone bills, goldfish and hopes and dreams” should not be flushed down the toilet.  The bin at the side of the loo is the size of Tom Thumb’s thimble.  And I have just started my period.  I sigh again.It’s time to head out for a wander and to have some dinner.  Given how long my day has been (six-hour coach journey, three-and-a-half-hour flight, plus considerable waiting time here and there) it’s erring more on the side of dinner and less on the side of wandering.  I fall in to what looks like a reasonably authentic-looking restaurant where people are jostling for tables.  Indeed, in the queue to ask for a table the couple behind me are attended to before I am.  I am clearly wearing my invisibility cloak.  Eventually I get to speak with a girl in what seems to be traditional dress and am told it will be “at least 20 minutes” before I am seated.  That’s fine, I think, get me to the bloody bar!  I have a glass of wine and soak up the atmosphere which includes watching some lovely folk dancing.  I am already glad I am here.IMG_9969.JPGI’m eventually seated and given a menu in English with vegetarian options clearly marked, despite the house speciality looking like this:2I have a very pleasant meal of mushroom stew and polenta with a tomato salad.  It’s cheap and warm and filling and I leave with a full tummy and a happy heart.  It was a good choice.In a post-dinner waddle, I wander around the block in the Old Town, taking a photo or two.3.jpeg78Despite the crass bars and the Saturday-nighters, it seems rather pleasant.  Some of the buildings are particularly impressive.  I am looking forward to seeing them in the daylight.But I am tired.  So, so tired. I head back to my accommodation.Climbing the 80+ spiral stairs to my room, I am out of breath when I finally reach my fourth-floor room.  I change and prepare for bed.  And just before I put out the light, I bury my head through the nasty floral curtains at the window.To be met with THIS5Bugger me, Bucharest!!!Where the FUCK did that come from?!?!Perhaps this room isn’t so terrible after all!After ogling the intricate architecture for quite some time, I climb in to my rickety but surprisingly comfortable bed.I am bollocksed  Absolutely bollocksed.Claiming both pillows as my own (there are some advantages to being a solo traveller), I spend about 10 seconds considering my day and how I’m feeling.  I had been told that Bucharest is not an easy city to love.  But despite everything, I know that whoever said this is wrong.I am already absolutely beguiled.Tomorrow, Bucharest, just you and me.  But for now, Goodnight.

Published by Shauna

Hi. I'm Shauna, a 40-something solo tripster. By tripster I mean part-time traveller. solong.blog is an amalgamation of plenty of personal rambling on my experiences when travelling on my own, how I feel, where I've been and what I've seen, and advice on how to go solo if you've never done it before but always wanted to try. After all, if I can do it, anyone can!

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