May 30, 2016: From Tarnovo to Romania

Today is our crazy, long, exhausting travel day.  All travel, all day.  Nothing but travel.  And we will not arrive until late tomorrow morning.  So it is going to be over twenty four hours of non-stop travel for us, in fact.

We were not sure if we were going to be able to buy tickets with a credit card and we did not want to carry all kind of Bulgarian cash as we leave the country, our stash of foreign cash in all kinds of currencies is becoming a little bit of a problem, so we decided that I should go down to the train station on my own early this morning while Dominica worked on packing and getting the girls ready to go.

Getting a taxi can be time consuming and I am a fast walker on my own so I walked to the train station.  The walk to it was easy, mostly downhill and the sun was not out yet.  Unfortunately, getting to the train station was easy but stepping inside it was a sauna and I was hot and sweaty pretty much instantly.

The station did not speak English and it turned out that we could not buy our tickets here because we needed International tickets.  What a pain.  But because we only had to buy the local train it was just 5.20 BGN (which is about $2.75.)  I had that in cash so was able to buy our ticket to two stations away at Gorda so we would be able to take the morning train and buy our big ticket down the tracks a bit at the big station.

It took me just long enough to buy the tickets that every taxi at the train station had pulled away leaving me without time to find one and needing to get back to the apartment quickly so that we could get back to make our train!  So I had to now walk even more quickly than before while going uphill instead of downhill.  No fun.  This would have been okay but the sun came out and it started getting pretty warm.

I got back and had to shower and change quickly as we were very much out of time as everything this morning took far longer than we had anticipated and no one was ready to go when I got home, either.  So it was a bit of a rush.

Once ready we checked out, left cash for the apartment as they had never collected the money for the last day that we had stayed, and ran down to grab a taxi in the square.  Once we had a taxi we knew that we were only five minutes away and that we had time to relax.

At the train station we had about half an hour to sit.  I walked over to the quick market next to the station with Luciana and we picked up 7-Day croissants and coffee to take back.

The train from Tarnovo to Gorda was only about twenty minutes.  Arriving there we had about an hour, maybe ninety minutes, to get things sorted and ready for the next train.  Here we easily found the international ticket office where they spoke English and we got our tickets to Bucharest for just $35 for the four of us!

While we were waiting at Gorda we were able to get four (because we all love it) big cups of steamed corn as a snack and I was able to charge my iPhone as there was power there and no one trying to use it.

Our train north from Gorda to Bucharest was easy and comfortable.  I did get to witness a “stow away” Roma get caught and try to leap from the train at full speed to escape the authorities.  He got caught twice attempting to open the outside door to escape.  It was interesting to see it in action.  Real life here, nothing hidden.

We did not have power on this train, as we did not the other day, so it was good that we had charged the phones and were ready for it.  The train was very warm, all sun today, but it was all fine.

It was a long ride from Tarnovo to Bucharest, it was a long day.  But we have nowhere to be and nothing to do so it was not a big deal that we spent the day on the train.  It was downtime.

It was late afternoon, around five, when we arrived at Bucharest’s Gara de Nord again.  We are used to this train station by now, this being our third time using it and the first time we were here for many hours and this time we are here for a long time again.

The girls just love eating at Subway and since there is one here we did that again for them.  We just got the girls food, Dominica and I wanted something else.  Lots of time to kill so no problem at all.

Dominica and I got dinner at Spring Time, a vegetarian friendly fresh food place by the Subway.  Dominica got falafel and I got a veggie burger that turned out to be amazing.  We will eat here again next time we are at Gara de Nord.  It was delicious and healthy.

We had many hours to kill until our overnight train was ready so we settled into So! Coffee, found their air conditioned room and camped out.  We pretty much had the place to ourselves for hours.  It was awesome.  Best place to kill time at Gara de Nord.  Great coffee, hot chocolate, warm space, cool space, a relatively private bathroom, snacks, wifi and a good location to see the scheduling board.  You won’t miss your train here.

We boarded as soon as we felt that we could get onto the train, so about a quarter after eight.  We got settled into the train and were ready for a comfortable evening.  This is a long overnight running from the south of Romania nearly all of the way to the Ukraine and we are riding nearly to the end; but not entirely to the end which means that we have to be careful not to oversleep and miss our stop.

Unfortunately tonight we had the berth next to us full of rowdy high school boys, six of them that we can’t even figure out how they fit into a berth. They were so loud that it felt like they were talking in the berth with us and they were constantly punching and kicking the walls and made the bathrooms so awful that we had to go to other train cars in order to use them!  It was ridiculous.  Extra train security was moved into our car to keep an eye on them.  We ended up with three conductors spending the night.  At least we were extra safe.  They weren’t dangerous, just extraordinarily rude and disgusting.

Tonight it was me that was unable to sleep.  The power went off often enough that I could not get sleep.  It was pretty bad and I had diaphragm distress during the night.  It was exhausting and I felt awful from it.  The girls slept great, they just love train overnights.  They are so small that the beds are luxurious for them and they don’t care about the power.  For everyone except Dominica the movement of the train just lulls us off to sleep.

We have to be up very early tomorrow morning to make our stop.