May 27, 2016: From Romania to Bulgaria

Today we are leaving Bucharest to take the train all day down to the old capital of the Second Bulgarian Empire and the first capital of modern Bulgaria: Tarnovo.  Our train is not until the very early afternoon so we started with getting breakfast at the same place that we did yesterday, did a couple of additional videos, and then checked out of our hostel, the Crazy Duck Lodge.

We had the hostel arrange a taxi for us today.  Better safe than sorry, although scammers would not bother coming into this neighbourhood; it is all local residential.  The trip to Gara de Nord, Bucharest’s main train station, was quick and easy and very cheap as all the real taxis are here in town.  The train station has warnings all over the place about the scam taxis, too.

We got to the station plenty early, which is always very smart, and had time to do things like get Subway sandwiches for the girls to take on the train with them.

Our train today is a daytime train; there is no overnight on this run down to Tarnovo.  This is mostly good as it will give us a chance to enjoy the scenery as this is our chance to get a good look at Bulgaria.

The train was incredibly warm and we had to share our cabin with two other people who wanted the window closed making it incredibly warm.  I spent pretty much the entire trip standing in the hallway with an open window to keep me cool with the air moving by.

Standing in the hallway always makes it easier to get to know people.  I ended up talking to a New Zealander who works in London and travels extensively.  We talked for over an hour at least.  And a Norwegian traveller that I met got some awesome pics of Luciana and me that he plans to email to me.  I have not seen them yet, though.

At the Romania border we were stopped for over two hours.  So long that everyone got out and just hung around outside for a long time.  We have no idea why Romania would have an exit border process that takes so long.  What could they possibly be doing?  I met several kids travelling from France and talked to them for a while as well.

Once under way we crossed over the Danube, which I have done before twice in Belgrade but not here, and went into Ruse, Bulgaria.  Border control on the Bulgarian side was under twenty minutes, which is like nothing.  And we were into Bulgaria.

The Bulgarian countryside was really beautiful.  We loved it.  Gorgeous, open farmland with great rolling hills and deep river valleys.

We had many hours inside of Bulgaria on the train and we ended up being very late getting into our first stop at Gorda where we thought that we were going to miss our connecting train but the Bulgarians held it for us and we were able to leave immediately for the last leg of our train journey to Tarnovo!  The last bit was only about twenty minutes so very fast.

Getting into Tarnovo, all of the French students that had been on the first train with us were still with us and going to Tarnovo for the weekend, too.  Because our train was late there were no taxis available for anyone which was rather a pain.  Of course there is no cash machine at Tarnovo station so that did not matter all that much since we could not take a taxi anyway.

We started walking and realized that it was going to be a very uphill climb.  So Dominica called the apartment that we were staying at and they ran down to get us themselves which was awesome.  So we got a quick ride up to the apartment.

The train coming into Tarnovo is really cool as the city sits on several hills with a deep river coursing through it and the train would be very disruptive to the old fortress site, the old town and everything else.  So the train actually goes far under the city near the river level and so you never see the train even though it goes right through the middle of the city.

Our apartment was right on what felt like one of the main intersections in town, across the street from the Alegro Hotel and La Scala restaurant and near the city park and Aladin Foods.   It’s a great location.  Our apartment was on the second floor and while small was really nice and comfortable.  We liked it a lot.

This apartment is the first time that we have had a place in Europe with the infamous shower and toilet area all in one where the shower actually gets the toilet wet and there is just a drain in the middle of the floor.  No actual shower space.  The biggest problem is getting the toilet paper wet, although it is not as problematic as it seems unless you are flailing around in the shower.  It was nicely done and not actually bad at all, but having the entire bathroom floor wet all of the time was a problem as you get your feet wet any time you use the bathroom.

It was getting dark by the time that we were settled in and ready to head out to get some food.  We are just getting dinner and going to bed tonight.  We did not want to go anywhere and I felt like falafel but Dominica wanted something sit down so we went to La Scala on the corner, we didn’t even have to get to the sidewalk before getting to it, and had a nice dinner there sitting inside by the front door.

We turned in early.  Tomorrow we will explore the old town of Tarnovo, Bulgaria.