Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Bucharest or Bust!

So after my friend Kevin having to change his travel plans, I'd decided to go to the Bucharest show on my own and then head up to Berlin and miss Sofia and Belgrade.

I flew out of Brussels Charleroi yesterday at 2pm on the cheap “wiz air” flight to Bucharest. 39 Euros one way and the flight took two and a half hours.This was the second time id flown out of here as I’d got a cheap Ryanair flight here and back to the UK when I’d come out earlier in the tour for the Werchter show. Its a very small airport with nothing much to do at all, The transfers to hotels and to downtown Brussels are a total rip off. Last night i had to take a cab to the hotel i was staying at, not even 1 kilometre distance from the airport to the hotel but due to the way the roads are and the whole airport been fenced in you cant walk! it cost me 10 Euros for the cab!

I also had to order a cab from the hotel to the airport this morning, i arranged this with the hotel and behind the reception is a sign that says cab rides to the airport can be UP TO 8 Euros. When my cab arrived he started the meter and when we got to the airport it read 5.50 Euros. I offered him 6 and he said no, no its 8 as agreed with the hotel! believe me i argued over 2 Euros but the guy wasn't moving. The ride in and out of Brussels is the same too, the airports an hour away from the city and you have to have a special train ticket to the airport, no other ticket is valid. You can get a ticket to almost anywhere in Brussels for the day for 4.5 Euros but the 45 minute train (and connecting bus) ride to the airport is just under 15 Euros.

Anyway, rant over. I fell asleep on the flight almost instantly, i cant even remember taking off! i had an emergency exit row seat so had plenty of legroom and no one sat next to me. I woke up with the worst crick in my neck but only 30 minutes to landing and the plane had just started its decent. I took a look in the in flight magazine and there was an article on Romanian food, some of it sounded good so i took a couple of pictures to remind me what was what for when i got there.

Wizzair flight          Piss poor advert!     Traditional Romanian food

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After going through immigration i looked on the board and it said carousel 1 to pick up baggage. After standing there for 35 minutes, baggage started to appear, 3 carousels down on number 4!  Most places warn you in the guide books not to accept rides from unlicensed  taxis, there was a big page display in the in flight magazine saying the same as well as a large sign over each carousel with huge red warning letters in red! The god thing was it also gave you al the details of the transfers and the times and prices. Even though the price of the taxis was fantastic 1.39 LEI  per kilometre ( 1 Romanian lie = $0.30) so that's about 89US cents per mile, i decided to take the bus in that takes about a hour and costs about $2.25. There was also the train option too but i wanted to see things on the ride into the city and thought the bus would give me the better option to do so and it did.

I’d been thinking though, what if i were able to rent a car in Bucharest and i could drive to the Sofia show and then up to the Belgrade show and then get the flight i had booked back to Berlin on the 2nd. As i passed the car rental booths i gave it one last shot and asked all 6 of them if it was possible to rent a car here and drop it off in Belgrade. I got the answer i was expecting and that was, No. Even now just as i was typing that last sentence I'm looking on Google maps at the distances between Bucharest and Sofia and Sofia and Belgrade and its only 6 hours by car between each, why on earth is the train ride 12 hours!! where does the train go exactly ? Anyway, I've given up on the idea and am content with just the one show here and then the train ride back up to Berlin.

I had to change some Euros for Romanian LEI and i did this in the arrivals hall, there were about 4 LEI to the Euro and as i handed over my grotty old paper Euro notes i was given back plastic money!! yup, the money in Romania is plastic, you cant tear it and it doesn't wear! on most notes there's a little see through window too that is just clear plastic, bizarre but great!


On the ride into the city it was a mix of what looked like new building that had either being started  and not finished or new buildings that were half pulled down, along with old building back from years ago to new car showrooms, i passed BMW, Volvo and even a Ferrari dealership! it was a bizarre mix.As the bus topped at one place there was a house at the side of the street and the owners had opened up their front windows and hey were selling beer to the locals out of their living room! they;de placed a table on the sidewalk and a couple of locals were sat down drinking beer while the woman in the house looked on with a table full of al different bottles for sale behind her in her house!

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The bus dropped me off at the North Railways station, I’d booked a cheap hotel (24 Euros a night) that was a 5 minute walk from the station. The fist thing i see when i stepped off the bus is two or three bright red signs lit up with the words SEX SHOP flickering away. Why are all areas around stations sketchy ? I opened my blackberry and tried to log on to Google maps, i guess the mapping isn't that great in Romania and i resorted to asking a local if he knew where the “Hello Hotel” was.I swear to you, it was like something off a comedy programme. “Hello” i said to a local taxi driver that was standing outside his cab, “Hello” he replied, “ hello hotel” i asked, “hello” again he replied and then said “what hotel ?” in broken English. “Hello hotel” i said again, “Hello, which hotel he replied” i gave up and walked across the street, there was a woman with a flower stall sat on a crate in front of the stall and i said “excuse me, d you know where the Hello hotel is” just didn't even lift her had or look up and just pointed down the street. I crossed the road and soon as i got to the other side i saw the big red sign that said HELLO HOTEL! i looked at it and in my head i just said “hello”

I checked in and the receptionist asked if i was here for the concert, i said yes and she said “see you tomorrow then”  i thought yeh maybe if i spot you out of the 40,000 other people! Kevin had recommend the Hello hotel and its great, its clean has everything you need inc free Wi-Fi and at 24 Euros a night it couldn't be better.

After unpacking and grabbing a shower I Googled a few of the restaurants that I'd seen in the in flight magazine, took me a while to find them online due to the mapping and after looking at them online i decided to pass on them and went downstairs and asked the girl if she could recommend anywhere that had traditional Romanian food and wasn't too far away. She wrote the name of a a place down and a street, i walked outside grabbed a cab and showed him the place name and street, he just nodded, flicked the meter on and 10 minutes and $1.50 later i was there.

The place was amazing, it was like stepping back in time! as i waked in the door i was met by a couple of people ballroom dancing around the tables! the hostess shoed me to a table and i sat and looked at the place in awe! unfortunately i only had my cell phone camera so the pictures aren't great but you get the idea!

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The menus were like newspapers and fortunately written in English as well as Romanian, something that the in-flight magazine had mentioned was that a lot of restaurants don't offer English menus but it the waitresses speak English they will help you out. I hadn't eaten since the airport at noon where I’d had an orange juice ad a croissant, it was now gone 10pm and i was starving. I looked over the menu and ordered the mixed grill, i;d read that the pork and the sausages in Romania were a must try and this had both of them so i thought id give it a hot and ordered a glass of wine and bottle of water too.

Before                                                     After                                                       Dessert (yes i know what they look like!)

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The food was amazing and i also saw on the menu they had traditional Romanian dessert, Papanasi it was great but there was way too much of it and i left more than half on the plate. the grand total was less than $10 for the water, wine, mixed grill, dessert and the 24% tax!! As i slowly walked out of the restaurant i took a cab at the end of the street and got back to the hotel around midnight. I have one friend at the show tomorrow, Thomas and i think Werner maybe here too, I’ve arranged to meet up with them at 4pm and hopefully the rain will stay stay for the show!

Its 10am on the morning of the show when I'm writing this and below is the view out of my hotel window, its not raining so much but the wind is very blustery, I'm hoping that settles down for the show as its not just the rain that could cause problems for the wall! I'm gonna grab a shower and take the subway over to the venue and see how the walls holding up i think. For those of you that don't know, the venue is outside tonight, in front of the huge Palace of the Parliament its a fantastic building and looks like it gonna be an amazing setting for the show

View out of window                                    Venue for tonight's show!

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1 comment:

  1. I was lucky to visit Romania (not Bucharest, but Transylvania) years ago. For me it was amazing and unforgettable, ... and quite similar to your tale ...