Bucharest, a very different place – an eco warrior comes on board

Travel Journal Overview: I was in another capital. I did a lot of research here about living in Romania not listed here. I found Bucharest very different to the North of Romania. Not by kinda place at all.

Heading down Ceaucesu's Bucharest (click to enlarge)
Heading down Ceaucesu's Bucharest (click to enlarge)

I headed into downtown Bucharest with “Itchy Beard” in a search for food and a book store. Itchy Beard was traveling overland to help save the environment, each to their own I thought. We had a Kebab, he was on a very low budget, no problems. Though I knew the Kebab would cause my stomach problems the moment I tasted the cold meat inside. He also had no guidebook, and no idea about visas. Hmm, I got an impression straight way, not so independent traveler nor planned out.

We walked the main streets, and for the first time I opted for the city bus rather than the metro. My first impressions of Bucharest were, Ceausescu’s demolitions of the beautiful buildings, to build his version of the Chancelisa (spelt wrong I know). Streets were wide, and teeming with people. Modern shops and malls were at every corner, lacking my TB of course. Mc Donalds ruled, strip clubs and casinos outnumbers the bars it seemed. I found a temporary TB, but not the exact. Itchy Beard was heavy on the environment, and his conversation was more of Anti-USA rather than, what about the trip and the visas! Still, I felt we were both heading in the same direction, so we will keep the conversation as neutral as possible.

Night came, and the Romania Germany Soccer match frenzy answered why the hostel was so full. We headed off to find and inspect the other hostels, all full. Our tour on Bucharest at night did little for my impression on Bucharest as a city. Rumors of 200,000 wild street dogs could easily be confirmed as we veered down darkened streets and snarling dogs greeted us, and followed in parts. We found a hostel in a bullet ridden courtyard of a military base and pre booked for the next day. Earplugs in, I settled in for a night of interruptions by drunken German soccer fans.

The following day we made the move to the new hostel. A friendly wave goodbye to the hostel owner resulted in her giant dirty white poodle taking a bite at my hand, no puncture wounds, but added value to the roaming wild dog stories in Bucharest.

Whilst the romainian Tourist board denies any more trouble with wild dogs in Bucharest, as do many guide books. I can categorically promise you, there are a lot of wild dogs in Bucharest. Be careful walking at night down side roads and streets.

A woman in 2011 died from a wild dog attack in Bucharest as reported by the BBC

We roamed Bucharest for the day, searching for interest. The 1989 revolution square brought an air of depression. Not for the people who lost there lives, but for the lack of care the city had made in remembering them. A few black and white metal crosses marked the spots they fell, a serious lacking of feeling. Itchy Beard ate peanuts for lunch, apparently holding onto his 1 dollar a day food budget while I went for a chicken and rice meal at a scary 10euro. Internet cafe’s were next to impossible to find, and the city was getting heavier. So tickets to Istanbul were bought, Itchy Beard swearing that he was going to find a hostel for under 3 euro there, internet, TB and myself having no effect on this world of eco love.

After a day of listening to Itchy Beards safe the world, and bring back communism I told him I was going out for some alone time, while also eating my last European meal. I circled the train station in a hope of finding something other than McDonalds or a Pizza cafe. Instead my eyes and senses got Wild dogs roaming around, zombie like drug addicts staring into space. Plastic bags, filled with glue attached to some mouths highlighted more of Bucharest. Bodies lying on cardboard around the green areas stared vacantly out into nowhere, how I wish I had the gumption to take a photo.

The amount of drugged out people was huge, and a flashing tourist camera in there face made be feel uneasy. There were no police in sight, any where in Bucharest. A young 10-11 year old girl was staring at me from a dark park area, dresses in stained and torn clothes. Homeless I suspected. She looked away by moving her whole head, her eyes remaining straight ahead. I walked by. Up ahead there was a group of similarly aged and dressed girls, two at least breathing into plastic bags. I walked by and as I did a teenage boy appeared from behind a tree to join the girls. He nodded towards me, and a few of the turned, mouthing words to themselves. My pace quickened in the dark streets. I crossed the road past a casino where two 40+ men were huffing on glue. To this day I regret not taking photos.

Further into my travels I met others who had stayed the night in Bucharest train station, or spent a few days in the city. We all agreed. Bucharest was a shit hole city.

The train left at 1.30pm and I was loaded up on train station sandwiches, red bull and a big bottle of water for the 19 hour trip to Istanbul. Itchy Beard was standing by on the full platform with his packet of dried fruit and decided this was the best time to re pack his backpack. By the time his passport was on the ground two feet away from him and in clear pick up vicinity to everyone else, I knew we would not be travel companions for much longer.

I boarded the train and was ushered to my carriage ahead of everyone else by the train attendant. The compartment door was locked and the curtains drawn, the attendant knocked, twice. A skinny bearded face appeared, American, had to be. Allan open the door and welcomed me in with suspicion. Asking the door be locked again, and for me not to put my backpack on his freshly made bed, still he was a nice seeming guy.

Itchy Beard arrived, and conversation started, based on USA politics of course, and the environment. I am sure Itchy Beard was the source of many a persons snigger, still he too was quite harmless. And when our compartment was then joined by a French student hitch-hiking his way to Turkey I got the change of feeling that as we headed out of Europe the type of traveller was changing too. I was in a compartment with a nice mix of people, good conversation, food, and the excitement of leaving the EU, and soon to be in the ancient city of Istanbul.

Related Links:

Travel  Guide to Romania

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