Romanian Hospitality and Night Trains With No Sleep

Sofia Travel Blog

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Daniel was great in hosting me, and after my crazy day a safe place to crash felt amazing. After sleeping in a bit I went to the bathroom to take a shower, confused at the mop and bucket sitting in the middle of it. Um, is it ok to shower here? Unsure, I made my way back to the couch and waited for Daniel, my host-I realized soon that it was good I hadn't tried since he has to turn a switch to heat up the water. He's very proud of his apartment, which he's spent the past 3 years decorating, and even making improvements to the entire building, but he's also very energy conscious, unplugging even appliances such as microwaves, which I think is kinda cool but I could never get myself to go that far.

It was at Daniel's that I really began to understand Romanian hospitality, and it put a smile on my face. He made us both breakfast of ketchup/sala type thing, mized with sweet red peppers, heated and placed on top of a stack of some sort of cold meat. 'Real Romanian dish,' he tells me. He doesn't cook much, but what he does, he's proud of. It was off to the center of town after that, first picking up bathroom stuff as I'd realized I'd left all of it in the hostel in Brasov, trying to not wake up my friends when I left at 6 AM the morning before-I held my breath as she took my card and swiped it. Sweet, my bank didn't cancel my card!

Thes rest of the day was a great tour of the city by Daniel, who claimed to be a professional tour guide when I complemented him on his knowledge of history and architecture. Once again I vowed to myself to research more US history and facts about San Francisco so I can show people around when I get home. I have to say that while this isn't my absolute favorite city ever, it was really good to see a place touched by communism in such recent history-it really helped me grasp firsthand what they had gone through, though I'll never truely understand since I wasn't there. The drab, grey, boring, run-down apartment blocks had me appreciating the freedom of my own country. I understand that in certain ways communism helped sustain life for those who would've otherwish been destitute, but man-what a crappy way to live!

Parts of the city are incredibly dirty, with trash strewn along the streets and epecially in the rivers and creeks, but other parts of the city are beautiful. The Orthodox churches especially impressed me, along the the ancient Roman ruins of a city that lay beneath the current level of the city. Every time they dig, they keep finding remains of a past that helped shape Sofia, which I thought was cool. Definitely an enlightening experience, but it was soon time to catch my train to Turkey. Once again we had to take a taxi, but this time I was able to convince Daniel to take my money, which I felt better about. Being the sweet guy that he is, he stayed with me all the way until I boarded my train. People are great :)

I was a bit nervous though when the man working on my train took my ticket after showing me to my sleeper cabin, which I luckily had all to myself. I don't like giving up my tickets-there's nothing to stop someone from claiming you never had a ticket and charging you an exorbitant amount to stay on the train or bus or wherever you are, which ended up happening to another American guy who came on just after me.

All was well and good though, even with the train seeming to stop every ten minutes for no apparent reason. I heard an Aussie in the cabin next to me, but didn't want to interrupt him and the girl, which I ended up feeling silly for later and am now traveling with. At the first stop for passport checks, we all started talking and an English guy down the hall overheard us talking about the confusing Cryllic and offered to enlighten us-according to what he's been told, it all actually makes way more sense than the Latin alphabet, with everything being phonetic and incredible easy to learn.

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photo by: EmEm