My first trip of 2019 was to Bucharest, a trip that I booked shortly after returning from Asia and Paris last October. That was my last trip of 2018, I was sad it was all over and I wanted something to look forward to. I’d hated January in 2018 so I decided that to brighten up the month a bit I’d book a trip away. I’d been on about Romania for a while so without overthinking it I booked the flights and hotel, and soon I was off!
I was quite proud of myself on that first day. The bit that stresses me out the most about solo travel is getting from the airport to my hotel – I get into such a panic like what if I can’t find it and I just have to walk the streets for three days? That’s never happened of course but that is the most stressful part for me. I could’ve booked a shuttle from the hotel to the airport but since I have car anxiety I wasn’t going to risk the person picking me up driving like a maniac. So I decided to catch the bus.
After a moment of stressing I found the bus station and asked the driver if he was going to my stop to which he just looked confused and shook his head. I started to get worried but bought my bus ticket and sat down anyway as Google Maps had advised me this was the correct bus. Luckily there was a list of stops on the wall outside the bus so I checked those against the ones on Google Maps – although my stop wasn’t listed outside the stop before mine was listed. Crisis averted, I’d just get off there instead and walk a bit further. I was proud of myself for figuring that out.
As it was quite late I didn’t do much on my first evening, I checked into my hotel, had a general nose around the area and got some dinner before heading back for an early night. It was the next morning when crisis struck.
The morning didn’t start out great when I woke up and realised my phone hadn’t charged overnight. The plug converter had popped out of the socket at some point and my phone was now sitting on 30%. I plugged it in while I went down for breakfast but forgot I was in a room where the electricity didn’t work unless the card was in the slot. Luckily my new phone charges quite quickly and doesn’t drain fast so when it got to 70% I decided to risk it. I hadn’t brought my power bank with me ‘cos my phone had lasted every day in Japan and I was certain it would in Romania. I’m such an idiot.
I set off for my first destination which was something I’d seen online. It was an umbrella alley – I’d seen one similar in Lithuania with my friends and was keen to see another one because I think they look so pretty. Google Maps advised it was a 30 minute walk away so I set off. I wasn’t keen on attempting public transport because I didn’t know how to get another bus ticket etc. so I set off on foot.
When I eventually made it to the destination I looked around but couldn’t see how an umbrella alley could be in this area. After some frantic googling I realised I’d misspelt a word and was now in the wrong place. It would take me another 30 minutes to get to the actual location. Annoying but whatever, I’ll just walk to the other place.
30 minutes later I’m in the general area so I have a look round for this Umbrella Alley. Can’t find it anywhere so I decide maybe it’s seasonal or it was only there briefly and now it’s gone. I’ve wasted over an hour trying to find something that probably isn’t here. Again, not great, but whatever. I’ll just do the next thing on my list. Visit the Old Town.
Luckily this isn’t as far, it’s maybe a 10 minute walk away so I set off. I was doing a good job at following Google Maps and I was so glad I’d got a new phone, my one in Poland had been relatively useless so I was still feeling pretty good. Until Google Maps advised I only had to turn one more corner and I would be in the Old Town. Unfortunately I couldn’t walk down there ‘cos there were three men and a van blocking the corner but even if they hadn’t been it wouldn’t have led anywhere. I walked up and down, absolutely confused, until throwing in the towel. Great, I’d spent the whole morning looking for things that I couldn’t find.
Okay the Umbrella Alley I can accept but it surely shouldn’t have been so difficult to find the Old Town? I have no idea what happened there and I don’t want to know.
The next item on my list was the Romanian Kitsch Museum and as that was an actual building and not just a vague area I figured I’d be more successful and luckily I was. The museum was in a nice area and I was feeling hungry so I sat down to get some food.
One of the things I’d noticed in Poland was that I was mostly too afraid to order food so for those few days I mostly ate chocolate peanuts I’d brought from the UK and ordered food if I was absolutely desperate. I think I had McDonalds three times because everywhere else made me too nervous. So in Romania I was determined to try harder with food. The woman who took me to my table spoke English so I was put more at ease.
I ordered some crepes with Nutella and vanilla ice-cream and upon reflection I wish I’d just ordered normal food, they had like ribs and stuff on the menu that I regret not going for. They brought the crepe over and I’m not sure why but I suddenly didn’t trust it. On the menu there’d been sweet crepes with cheese in and when I cut into my crepe all the vanilla ice-cream poured out. I knew it was vanilla ice-cream but part of me didn’t trust that there wasn’t cheese snuck in. I don’t know, okay? It was a weird experience.
When I was finished I thought they’d bring the bill over but they did not. I sat there for maybe half-an-hour trying to work up the courage to ask for the bill. Luckily in the end I pushed my cup towards the edge of the table and when a guy came to collect it I was like “THANKSCANIHAVETHEBILLPLEASE”. Even then it took another ten minutes for it be brought over but out of British awkwardness I didn’t pull a face.
Luckily the rest of the day went smoothly, I saw the rest of the stuff on my list and had Taco Bell for dinner (which I’ve only had twice but actually love, why don’t we have Taco Bell in the UK?). I went back to my hotel for an early night because I had a day trip the next day to Dracula’s castle and other places which I wanted some energy for.
I barely slept all night. I was so worried about sleeping through my alarm or not being able to find the meet-up place for the tour that I kept having stress dreams and waking up. I even got out of bed at 4AM to check my phone and make sure I hadn’t overslept. I was relieved when my alarm eventually went off so I could just get on with things.
When we’d been on a day tour in Tokyo the meet-up point was in a hotel which had been really convenient as you could go inside and there were plenty of people around to point you in the right direction so there was less stress. As this tour was smaller the pick-up was in a car park and I’d arrived at about 7:35AM for an 8AM pick-up because I was so worried about being late. I stood around panicking that I was in the wrong place for 15 minutes because I couldn’t see any sign that a tour was going to leave from here until eventually a minibus pulled up with the name of the company on the side. I went over and luckily the guide was like “Hi, you must be Hollie” so disaster was averted. You have no idea how relieved I was.
The day tour was amazing, I may write a longer post about it at some point, but it was awesome. The tour guide was really sassy and the other people on the trip were nice. There were two boys from Canada, two girls from Cyprus and then a boy and a girl from Italy. It’s just as well they were all nice because one of the stops on our tour was a fort – it hadn’t been on the itinerary when I booked but hey it was an added perk so why not?
The entire thing was made up of hills and of course it was January in Romania, it had been snowing. The snow had now turned to ice. I did most of it okay until finally we got to one steep point where I ended up with my hands on the ground and one leg out as if I were posing. I was completely stuck and the Italian guy came back down like “Hey, do you need help?” I’m so awkward that normally I’d be like ‘no, no, I’m fine’ but it was so bad that I had to admit I needed help. He helped me get out of the bit where I was stuck and I tried to carry on like normal.
When it was time to leave we headed down a steep hill and again I couldn’t figure out how to get down and got bloody stuck yet again while half the group trotted off. This time his girlfriend was like “Do you need help?” so I was like “Um maybe” because I didn’t want to bother them but God knows I did need help. She sent her boyfriend back up and I had to hold his arm the entire way down the hill. I tried to make light of the situation by saying “We don’t get much snow in England” to which he responded “We don’t get any at all in the south of Italy.” … Oh.
After that the trip went quite smoothly, although other places we went had snow and ice it wasn’t as bad as the fort as there weren’t any steep hills. I was a bit embarrassed walking up to Dracula’s castle as it was up a hill (luckily all the snow had been cleared away), the rest of the group briskly walked up and when I got to the top we had to climb some steps into the castle and the tour guide was like “… Do you need a minute?” so I shook my head and powered through. I’d been worried there would be tons more stairs inside but luckily there wasn’t.
The only other unlucky thing that happened was with the flights on the way back. The plane was slightly delayed and we were all stood in the gate with no information. I have no issue with delays and wouldn’t dream of getting mad at the staff, these things happen, but I get really annoyed when we’re just left waiting with no information. There was an announcement telling us all to ‘go to gate’ but nothing was actually happening at the gate, I was just stood in a big crowd of people as my bag threatened to break my back.
I got a bit worried when my friend messaged me to ask if my flight was going to be cancelled due to the snow but luckily we were soon on the plane and it took off. The flight mostly went well until we were back in England when the air hostess announced we had to circle the airport for 30 minutes. Although I’m a lot better than I used to be I am a nervous flyer so my mind instantly went “oh my god, we’re gonna run out of fuel and crash land.”
We didn’t crash land obviously but as the plane went down the air hostesses turned off the lights as they usually do and after a while they then switched on the light to illuminate the emergency exit sign. It was probably just something they’d forgotten to do and realised they probably should just in case but my mind was like “… Did they switch that on because we’ll need it?” So I was paranoid enough when I heard a soft but fast beeping noise and I was proper on edge then but we landed safely at Birmingham Airport.
Due to the delays I’d missed the 9:50PM train and had to wait for the 11PM train which didn’t bring me back to Telford until 12:30AM. Luckily I don’t live too far from the train station so managed to collapse into bed at 1AM – I was exhausted at work the next day, I need to learn to either come in late or take the day off after a trip.
To be fair if those were the most disastrous things to happen on the trip then it was a relatively successful one. I’ll probably be writing a couple more posts about Romania and how much I loved it over the next couple of weeks. If you’ve been then feel free to let me know some fails you had whilst you were there!