May 24, 2016: From Chisinau to Bucharest

I think that we all slept pretty well last night.  No power outages all night which was good.  Today is our last half day in Chisinau, Moldova.  Dominica was hesitant to return to Bouchee for breakfast, we will have eaten there every day that we have been in Moldova and had every breakfast there but everyone loves it so she gave in and back we went.  They know us there by now.  Today everyone got breakfast except for me, I love their sandwiches so much that I went for a lunch meal instead.  It was on the late side, anyway, for breakfast.

After breakfast (or lunch) it was back to the apartment and time to get everything packed and out the door.  Both yesterday while the rain was coming down and today while waiting to go I was frantically working on getting media uploaded as we have been doing a ton of pictures and videos on this trip and it takes forever to get it all uploaded to the right places.

We checked out and got the housekeeper to call us a taxi to take us to the train station. This all went very smoothly and we were to the station long before we needed to be with plenty of time to buy our tickets and relax awaiting the train.  It’s always best when doing a major trip, especially an international one, to allow plenty of extra time so that you can deal with things that might go wrong.

We did a couple of new travel videos while waiting at the train station.

The train pulled up around four and we were able to load up long before it was time to leave.  Starting an overnight train journey from the head terminal is so much nicer than having to jump on at a midway point along the way so that you can get half an hour or more to board and get settled and comfortable instead of having just a minute to jump on and try to figure out where you need to go and what to do.  It really makes a huge difference.

We got loaded up and settled into our berth on the train.   We were very unhappy to discover that while there were power outlets, there was only one for about every other cabin and they were in the hallway, not in the berths themselves which is rather a problem when you have a CPAP that needs to be powered on all night.  Thank goodness we plan ahead and travel with a power strip that gives us several feet more distance.  We might need to consider a short extension cord too!

Dominica figured out how to set up a bit of a charging station out in the hallway and we got all of our devices charged up during the afternoon and evening portion of the journey.  Thankfully the train was not very full and there was probably only three cabins in use in our entire train car, so we had a whole section of the hallway to ourselves and we were not bothering anyone.

The first four hours of the trip was in Moldova and it was raining.  Mostly this train ride went back over nearly the identical route that we had taken on the bus just a few days ago.  Once we got to the border we had a long wait, a really long wait.

The border crossing itself took forever, hours on the Moldovan side and hours on the Romanian side.  No wonder they schedule this train route when they do, they need to do this early enough so that it is not happening in the middle of the night since you need to be awake for two sets of border controls and two sets of customs agents and the process is spread out over about three hours total!  It was a bit crazy.

Adding to the border craziness, the Moldovan side uses narrow gauge railroads and the Romanian side uses standard European Union rail gauge.  Riding on the train while it gets lifted up and the wheels (on the trucks) get switched out is really cool.  Dominica was loving that.

It was really late by the time that we were into Romania and underway.  We went down and investigated the dining car situation.  Romanian rails don’t have a dining car but Moldovan do.  They had very basic snacks (cookies, chips and peanuts) and a cook whipping up a breakfast-like meal of fried eggs, some odd salad and bread.  Very basic, but it was fine.  We ended up ordering four of them and everyone ate decently well.

Then it was time for bed.  We got the CPAP hooked up partially in the hallway and just hoped for the best and had the door open a sliver so that the power could run in.  It worked out all right but the door kept sliding open during the night and I needed to keep dealing with it and that caused me to basically not get any sleep.  So I rested and relaxed but slept very little.

Overall the train ride was good and we would definitely do this trip again.  With more info and better expectations we could make it very comfortable.  The train car that we were in was definitely an old, but well maintained Soviet-era rail car which was really cool to get to ride in.