Saturday, August 31, 2013

Day one of two exhausting days

So here was the original plan:

I would get the train from Bucharest to Berlin, leaving at 5 pm on Thursday (the day after the show) and arrive in Berlin at 10 pm on Friday night. It was a sleeper train from Bucharest to Budapest, arriving at 9am Friday morning and then a connecting train to Berlin at 9:40am, so i had 40 minutes to walk from one platform to another. That was the one and only “real” day train to Berlin, there was one that left at 11:10am but that didn't arrive until 1:30am on the Saturday morning! After that the next one was pm and that would mean another night on a sleeper train and arriving Saturday. The route i was taking was still 29 hours on two trains!

I went for a wander around by the hotel for a couple of hours in the morning, no idea where i was going or what I'd see but it was a nice sunny day and i had 7 hours to go before my train left. The train station was a 5 minute walk from my hotel so I’d no rush to be back and no taxi or bus rides to take to get there on time. I picked up a couple of Romanian croissant type pastry things at a local shop and a bottle of iced tea and had breakfast as  was walking around.

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As i walked past one street i saw a market type place so took a wander down. There was an old lady with chillies spread out on a piece of plastic and a bunch of grapes on a piece of cardboard!, a man selling two chickens that appeared dead on the floor until he picked them up by the neck, they hadn't much life in them at all but they were still alive, and of course what would a local market be without a woman selling chrome shower hoses in one hand and wife beater T shirts in the other!

It was obviously a place where locals sold and bought whatever they had. A bit further down was an indoor place with a few fruit and veg stalls and a cafe bar full of locals dinking beer. I sat down ordered a beer an just people watched for nearly 2 hours! Several locals tried to talk to me but not one of them spoke English, that didn't stop them talking Romanian to me and thinking that if they spoke a little slower or louder that I would understand what they were saying! I tried to explain to them that it doesn't work like that unfortunately but they just carried on so i nodded my head every so often.

My initial view of the street market               Cafe bar where i sat on the left                   One of the fruit and veg stalls

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I could have sat there all day and watched the world going on around me,it was kind of sad seeing some of the things. The old woman with the chillies, the guy with the chickens but i guess in a way they don't know any different do they ? Have to say it did make me realise just how lucky i am! especially when a woman came walking down the street with a child in the push chair and tried to sell me a pair of odd (one red and one green) flip flops! that's all she had to sell.

It was now gone 2pm and i headed back to the hotel and packed my case and took a shower before walking over to the train station. I stopped off at an outdoor cafe and ordered some lunch and a coke, i wasn't sure what type of restaurant was going to be on the train and i was going to be on it al night so thought i would get something to eat now. As i was sat there enjoying the peace and quiet, drinking my beer and taking in the surrounding area, i saw a your “lady” walking towards me on the other side of the railings that i was sat up against. As she got closer the grip on my laptop bag increased and i put my foot kind of around my suitcase, something just didn't look right. She came up to the railing where i was sat, lent over and in broken English she said “Cheap pussy, you want?” Now I’m guessing she didn't work at the local vets of the local  cattery or her cat hadn't just had kittens that she was trying to get rid of! i just looked up, shook my head and looked back down at the can of coke on the table, she mumbled something in what i presume was Romanian and went on her merry way! As i got up to head over to the train station which was just on the other side of the road, i turned the corner and saw the shop in the picture below, i wonder if it literally was a sex shop ? maybe my kitten selling friend had come from there

Where i was propositioned           Maybe she worked here ?

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The trains in Germany and fantastic, they run on time to the exact second, the in car restaurants are as good as ones you’d eat at at home and the service and cleanliness of the carriages is second to none. My months rail pass is first class, so I’m also able to log online while travelling on most of the German trains and also allowed to travel in any country in Europe on any train. The German train website even has the entire train timetable for you to download on your laptop or iPhone/blackberry so you can see pretty much plan any journey throughout Europe from wherever you are without having to be connected online! if you are connected online you even get real time train delays! The Romanian and Hungarian trains though i wasn't holding out too much hope as to what they were like! As i headed over to the station i took a picture before i went in and then saw a picture inside promoting how nice the strain station was.

Station from my eyes                                                              How it looks to the Romanian tourist boards

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The building was what you’d expect from some Eastern Europe country, big, busy and old. it looked fantastic inside though with old metal roof trusses and huge marble floored ticket offices and old fashioned timetable boards.

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I still had a while to go before the train which was actually 17:40 17:00 I sat down at a cafe in the station and again ordered a local bottle of beer, not even 1 euro!! An older guy pointed to the seat next to me at the table and asked in Romanian if the seat was taken, i said no and gestured for him to sit.

5 minutes later as I’m swigging my beer i hear,   “eins, zwei, drei……..” i look over and the old guys watching a video from last nights gig on his phone!! I look at him and say “you went to the show” pointing at his phone. he nodded and held his thumb up. i didn't have any blog cards in my laptop bag they were in my large suitcase so couldn't give him one but i did have my camera and showed him some pictures and video of the sound check, his eyes opened wide as he saw Roger walking on the stage, he pointed to his watch which i could tell meant what time was the sound check, i held up 4 fingers on one hand, he pointed to him self and held up six fingers, i guess he got there at 6pm!. He didn't speak a word of English but him and i had a 15 minute  “conversation” about the show  with gestures, hand signals and pictures!! he looked the most unlikely guy to have gone to the show but i guess that just shows what a diverse audience Rogers music has.

Romanian Roger fan!                    Local beer

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He finished his beer, shook my had and smiled as he pointed towards one of the platforms, i did the same and head over to see what platform my train would be on. 13, lucky (or not ! ) for me! I knew Marek from Prague was on the same train as me heading back home, he saw me on the platform and came over to say hi. Him and his friends were very hospitable to me, Kevin, Jens, Phil and a few others when we al visited Prague in 2011 and took us all to their local cafe for drinks and even gave us some great Floyd gifts! I hadn't seen him since then so it was good to catch up and chat. As the train pulled in (on time)  headed to my sleeper cabin and he headed to his seat.

There's sleepers for 2, 3 and 4 people on most trains and then couchettes which have 6 or sometimes even 8 beds in them. My train ticket doesn't cover the bed so I’d paid for a reservation for the sleeper at the train station in Saarlouis before I’d left Germany a few day ago. A single person sleeper was nearly 100 Euros so id opted for the 2 person one at just over 40,  you’ve no idea who will be sharing with you or if as sometimes is the case you an end up alone. I’d booked the lower bunk and put my case on the rack and plugged my laptop and phone in to charge.The sleeper cabins have a top bunk bed and a lower bed that also converts into seats and a table, you also have a small area with a sink  and an area for luggage up the top.

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Ten minutes after the train leaving, a young guy comes into the compartment, he had been backpacking around Europe and was on his way home for a week to Holland,a nice guy but quiet and didn't talk too much.

I love travelling on the trains, i love just looking out of the windows at places I’ve never been and seeing things i may never see again. The countryside was pretty barren with a lot of older dilapidated buildings, hundreds of corn fields and thousands, no, millions of of sunflowers in thousands of fields! most were dead and withering away but every so often there would be a field full of ones that were still in full bloom

Fields of sunflowers                                   Mostly dead and withering away                 Horse and cart and railroad crossing

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Few of the building i just took random shots of on the way.

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The trains here don't go fast at all, in fact to do the drive from Bucharest to Budapest is about 8 hours, the train takes going on 16 hours! apparently its to do with the tracks, most of the tracks are so old that its not safe to travel at speeds above 40 miles an hour on them!

Around 10pm, i pulled the seats around to make up the bed and tried to get some sleep, me being 6ft 22 and the bed being 5ft 5” doesn't work real well and after an hour of trying to sleep i gave up, sat up and watched the latest episodes of Breaking Bad and Dexter on my laptop, i tried again to sleep about 2am but the banging a clattering and the train going so slow and moving all over the place meant i got probably no more than 2 hours sleep before i was up again at am when the Hungarian boarder patrol board the train and knock on the compartment doors asking for passports. Minutes later the Hector comes around with a plastic shopping bag with “breakfast” in. A bottle of water, bottle of peach ices tea, a packet of cookies and a small plastic tub of marmalade! No… marmalade:)  i HATE peaches! lol, had he bottle of waters an washed a few of the bone dry cookies down with some and then had a wash in the sin using both of the freshen up wipes that were supplied in a little “welcome” packet on the inside of the sink door. Both the freshen up packets looked the same from the front but after using them both and then turning them over i read what was written on them!!

Breakfast!                                                                         No…… Marmalade                      Well at least i had a shiny face!!

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It was now 7am, we were due into Budapest in a couple of hours time (or so i thought!) i headed out to use the bathroom and saw the hector (train guard) and asked if we were on time for Budapest, “no, we are one hour late” he said. UGH that means i missed my connection for the 9:30 day train and would have to get the 11:10 train and wouldn't arrive into Berlin until 1:30am the next day! that was another 14 hours on a train plus 1 1/2 hours wait in Budapest.

To be continued…….

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