22 hours is a bit long for a train journey, even for the ipod owning traveller. The sights during the daytime while crossing Bulgaria where good though. Fresh snow, sunshine and a horse and cart every now and then on the deserted country roads.
Bucharest felt almost like going back to the Ukraine in how strong the poverty is visible, but then everybody speaks some English and actually Romanian is pretty intelligible in itself. I’m told 90% of its vocabulary can be traced to Latin, either directly or via French or Italian. The grammar is a simplified form of Latin which should be familiar. Maybe a nice challenge for Tim to master this language as well, shouldn’t take him more than a few weeks I’d say.
The palace of the people can be summarized as: Big. and rather tasteless. A shame the tours don’t really go into the historic perspective and impact of the building, instead they focus on facts about the amount of marble used, the number of chandeliers and the size of the thing. Our 1 hour tour covered almost 4 % of the building apparently.
Other then this building most of Bucharest is in a severe state of disrepair and the few western malls are not really helping much. It reminds me of a SImCity 2000 town where the road funding has been cut to 0 and the taxes to maximum.
The local food is pretty nice, I had some that I would describe as rolls of rice and minced meat mix in cabbage leafs, together with a dough thingy that reminded me of Semolina (NL: griesmeel) pudding that has been left in the fridge too long. Interesting…
I spend my second day mainly wandering through the town, and then decided it was time to move on.
Getting a train ticket involved a 30 minute wait for a bus, 15 min trip to the train station, 30 min wait in line, 15 minute wait for ticket lady to do her business, and then again 15 min wait and 15 min bus back to the center.
It does make you appreciate the dutch railways.
The train was good, modern and complete with 220v socket for charging iPods. Very nice indeed. Too bad it was too dark for photos since it was beautiful going in and out of little towns. I even spotted a steam engine somewhere on a side track.
So now i’m in Budapest, uploading my photos in the warm and cozy smell of gluhwein that is being prepared by the hostel staff. A friendly bunch and a very well equipped hostel with big screen TV and a Christmas tree!