Travel Journal Overview: East Europe is indeed the place for trains. Cheap, fast, and comfortable. I had met a guy heading in a similar direction to me. So I skipped over Bulgaria by taking a train through it. I do now of course wish I had visited it. But as I reveal in my book, I had already learned about finding home in Europe by now.
By the time we were crossing the Bulgarian border we had met up with, Reagan a Canadian backpacker travelling in the compartment next door. Our joint conversations were good, we laughed about how we all felt towards Bucharest. And as we crossed into Bulgaria we all felt a sense of shame that we did not have the time to visit this place. We gathered by open windows along the carriage hallway and stared out as Cyrillic signs flew by.
At the border a small boy came running up to the train asking if he could fetch us Pizza, hamburger, coke. We made jokes to Allen about being castrated when entering Turkey, a prerequisite for Americans, outside of their own country they have to take it on the chin. This was made all the better as the rotund Bulgarian border guard took only his passport away for five minutes. The train pulled off, and we started out at Bulgaria as it whizzed by, cameras at the ready. In the distance we saw a giant powerplant that resembled a nuclear plant, communist style block housing and a huge sewage plant. This was our Bulgaria, and somehow through the gudgy imagery we enjoyed our fleeting visit.
Night fell, and we realised most of the train was empty so we split up into two compartments to catch some sleep. Soon we were to be in Turkey. With a bed, and a locked door I shared a compartment with Reagan and slept.
By 3am we were walking outside in the darkness and onto Turkey, the EU now behind us. We carried our backpacks and lined up for our Turkish stamps, Itchy Beard having not researched anything had to pay double and only get a one month tourist visa due to his Norwegianess. Another long queue later and we were stamped in. Our French friend had given us the name and address of a hostel in Istanbul. He was leaving for a border town at the next stop. Already we all knew we would head there together. So now after 8+ countries I was no longer a solitary traveler. It felt good. An ancient city full of history was our next stop…
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