I took the night train last night from Budapest to Bucharest. It was actually quite a nice journey. I didn’t have a great sleep on the train, as usual, but I met some nice people. My bunk mate was a really nice teacher from Hong Kong. There were supposed to be three of us in the compartment, but thankfully lucky number 13 didn’t show up (13 being the middle bunk.) Our next door neighbour was a Romanian born American living in California, so he helped us out with communication difficulties with the conductor and the border guards. We also met a nice family from Saskatoon who were in Europe to watch their son’s wrestling match in Romania. It was sort of like a little train party, and made the journey more memorable than it would have been otherwise. My Eurail pass expired at midnight last night, so I had to pay an extra 40 euro for my ticket from wherever we were at midnight to Bucharest. I tried so hard to time the Eurail passes well, but off by one day isn’t all that bad!
Usually when I get to my destination (especially if it’s a big city) I’ll just go to their visitor info. desk to get a map of the city. First problem in Bucharest? Visitor info. booth shut tight. Great. I thankfully have instructions from my hostel on how to get there by Metro from the train station so I just set off and hoped for the best. I followed the instructions and found that they were excellent. I was so happy and proud of myself that I found the place so easily! As soon as I walked into the hostel the employee Eugen tells me there is a problem. To be honest, I’m still not sure of what the exact problem was, just that they don’t have a single room for me anymore. Something about someone having their passports stolen, or lost? It was a muddy explanation whatever the case. But he was a rock star, this Eugen! He called another hostel and booked me a room for the same price and paid for my cab to get there! It’s 32 degrees in the shadow (as Eugen put it) so I’m really grateful that I didn’t have to slog my bags in the heat myself to get to my new hostel. Even though they screwed up he royally made up for it. But my new hostel is a bit odd. No English spoken whatsoever. You have to remove your shoes and put on these weird rubber Crocs type sandals while walking inside. I’m in a huge room with 5 beds in it all to myself. There appears to be no one else staying here and no one at the front desk, if you can call it that. I’m not 100 % comfortable here, but it’s only one night and the door has a decent lock on it.
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I went for a little walk in the neighbourhood. I still don’t have a map because this bizarre hostel doesn’t seem to think foreign travellers coming to Bucharest will need something so trivial, so I had to make sure I could retrace my steps. Of course I got lost and had to ask for directions three times!
Stray dogs. This is really upsetting me. Apparently Bucharest has thousands of stray dogs on the streets, or “community dogs” as they call them to try to whitewash how bad the problem is. I’m glad I was prepared for this, because in just a few hours I was shocked at how many dogs there were on the streets. And packs of them roaming around! That can’t be safe, for people, and responsible dog owners who are walking their own dogs on leashes in their neighbourhood. I just find it incredibly sad.
AS I was walking by this church I could hear these people singing. They were all holding candles and the singing almost had a Gregorian chant quality about it. It’s Sunday today so I’m assuming it might be a Sunday mass of some kind?