Bucharest by train, bloody tourists

Travel Journal Overview: Traveling via east European trains is a great way to see the country. Unfortunately it’s also a place where you can meet obnoxious tourists. In my book this is the turning point I have in Europe about finding home.

Artist at work in Romania (click to enlarge)
Artist at work in Romania (click to enlarge)

A little delay on the train meant I met a nice Romanian American couple, who knew the secret to East Europe train carriage identification. Still my own carriage was a 420, seat 61. I opened the door to find the compartment full. One of the things that annoys me in traveling is another traveler who does not bother to say hello, even after passing each other 4-5 times in a day. Here in my compartment sat such a duo. They looked like mother and daughter, with American accents, and the mother promptly sat in my seat. First I confirmed it was the right carriage, my gut instinct told me they had guilty eyes. They shuffled and as all the others eats were full seemed reluctant to more. I local said for me to try another compartment. I looked next door, full.

So I barged bags and all into my rightful compartment, and said ” Too bad folks, this is where my ticket says I paid to be, and I ain’t moving, so push over.” The Romanian’s laughed, the Americans shuddered. I pushed and shoved my big backpack in, squashed toes and, said “Sorry, but I really don’t care, this is my place.”

A young Romanian guy, got up and sat outside in the hallway, of the carriage. To be honest I felt a little sorry for him, the stout American mother continued to sit cold faced doing her embroidery. As part of my revenge I chirped in lots of sarcastic but very friendly comments about my sandwich smelling a bit, but not a bad as my feet. I enjoyed. Sat back, and looked out the window as my final view of the Carpathians rolled by.

Big, dramatic, bold, rugged and worth more than my few days of a visit. Having said that, as I sat there I knew that as an outsider one good never spend enough time in a country. You come, you see what you want to and you leave, or maybe stay for a lifetime. But for local you will never have seen everywhere in a country, perhaps not even in a lifetime. There will always be a place, a town, a wall, a field or a person that someone will tell you is the best thing in the country.

I read from my “Travels in Afghanistan” book, thinking of my voyage across Europe in neat solitude, would the rest of my journey be like this? To travel alone at certain points is blissful, you can do what you want, when you want it. But to travel with a good companion is great too, as you always have a back up and conversation. I continued to read, and came across the following from the book:

“I encouraged him, in the usual way that you wish for others what really you want for yourself, to have complete confidence in himself and never be afraid to be alone, to further his travels and always question the meaning of things.”
Jason Elliot (An Unexpected Light, Travels in Afghanistan)

I was starting to yearn for mountain travel in Afghanistan, or possibly Kazakhstan.

We pulled into Bucharest. I noted a few backpackers ahead in the train, and I stepped up the pace out of the station. Not to catch up with them, but to get to the nearest hostel before them… well, I was a solitary traveler after all!

Though as usual I took an immediate left turn rather than a right, and was semi off the path for 30 mins. Nonetheless I made my was to a non TB hostel called Friends and was checked in by a slightly stoned Romanian girl, in a what it seemed like a very full hostel. I scraggy bearded guy appeared at the doorway, paying off a taxi man. I told him that I thought there was one more bed above mine that was left. Then said I had to go away to try to buy a TB on a certain country. His eyes flashed and he said he was going to the same countries along the same route as me…

Related Links:

Travel  Guide to Romania

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