I sort of wished we had visited Romania earlier in our trip instead of near the end. Partly because there was a lot more to see, but mostly because we experienced more frustration here than in other places dealing with scams, taxi drivers, etc.
After wandering around Tirana for the day we grabbed our bags from the hotel and headed to the airport. After a short uneventful stopover in Budapest Airport we were soon at our destination of Bucharest, Romania.
Doesn’t give us quite a comforting feeling; If only I had known this would be foreshadowing of things to come on our trip. It didn’t take long for the constant harassment for taxi rides to start. Skilled in ignoring the touts we made our way to the bus area only to find the ticket window closed and seemingly no more buses.
Never a good position to be in for a new destination.
One taxi driver approached us and stated that the last bus had left, which was believable since it was considerably late, the ticket window was closed, and the services seemed to have stopped running. We took him at his word and made our way to his taxi.
When you are traveling with others, often times you seem to put your guard down, or make decisions you wouldn’t normally do. We saw what he claimed was his taxi, which was a blue Toyota Camry, and neither of us seemed to really believe him, but we put our bags in the trunk anyway (unacceptable rookie mistake) .
I wasn’t too comfortable with the taxi, and from his look neither was my friend, so we stated that “Hey you are not actually a taxi”.
To which he replied yes he was of course, and pointed to his small cardboard sign printed with ‘Taxi’ abandoned on his back seats.
“Umm where is your meter?” – we asked, still skeptical on his taxi credentials.
When he opened his glove box to display a meter with wires dangling out the back we basically figured we’d be better taking our chances with nearly anyone else out there. He tried to force into paying us for “wasting his time”, and refused to let us have our bags back . We argued that he should pay us for wasting our time, and eventually he just got tired of us complaining and returned our bags (could have been worse).
Back at the bus station we met a group of locals who were so helpful in showing us what to do, where to buy tickets at this time of night, when the next bus was. They truly saved us from being completed ripped off. I love meeting great locals while traveling.
The bus ride to the city was quiet, very few folks were on the bus this time of night. We passed through the areas around Bucharest on our way into the center. It was definitely more built up than any city we had visited up to this point. It was also the first time we saw signs of western fast food chains too since leaving the US which was a bit disappointing since I definitely enjoyed seeing things completely unlike home.
We arrived our at stop and began walking through the abandoned streets and avenues to our hotel. We had general idea where it was, somewhere outside the university area. We walked for a while and were heckled by the only other folks out at the time, a few pimps hanging out on the sidewalk. We probably walked about a mile or so, passed many more hotels on the avenue, and eventually we figured we must have had to go too far. At this point too we had a new group member, a cute little black puppy who took a liking to my friend and was running steps behind his heels as we walked our bags through the streets. The puppy is one of the mostly harmless“community dogs” that litter the streets of Bucharest. We turned around and went back and realized our hotel was right where the pimps had earlier hassled us. Great, so these are going to be our neighbors for the next few days, I’m sure we’ll all become the best of friends. But either way it was time to check in and relax before more Romania fun.
Bine aţi venit în România