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Tales of a Vagabond My summer as a hobo in Europe.

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ROMANIA | Wednesday, 16 July 2008 | Views [1291] | Comments [5]

After leaving Budapest, we headed for Bucharest, Romania. We took another night train and ended up riding with a couple of Canadian girls who were going to visit some family. The ride was incredibly long, we didn't get to Bucharest until 2:30 in the afternoon. As soon as we stepped off the train we immediately regretted the decision to go to Bucharest. The first thing I noticed was how dirty the people were. They were wearing mismatched clothes and had dirty hands and feet. Gross. We only had one afternoon to tour the city before our night train, so we set out for the city on foot. About five blocks into our walk we were both comparing Bucharest to nasty Mexico. It was hot, and we were scared to walk around in some of the neighborhoods. Thirty minutes later we were back at the train station...

We were hungry, but we didn't really want to risk the cheap street vendor food which is normally my first choice for a meal. We ended up getting some McDonalds at the train station. It was the only air conditioned building for miles, so we took our time eating. I spied a pharmacy across the terminal and made a beeline for some itch cream. Luckily the woman at the counter spoke broken English, and I was able to communicate by showing her my red bumps and scratching. I couldn't read the directions, so I prayed that slathering the gel onto my skin would do the trick. It worked, although at this point the bites are so numerous that it would take a gallon of the stuff to fix me. I decided that I would find some lice shampoo and coat my entire body and use it as laundry detergent. If it's strong enough to kill lice, surely it's strong enough to get rid of whatever I have. Unfortunately, Europeans don't seem to know what it is. I've been to every pharmacy from Romania to Greece, and it's nowhere to be found.

After spending hours in McDonalds, Devin decided he needed to use the restroom. He paid and disappeared down the stairs while I watched our bags. Quite a while later he reappear, smelling of sewage, and describing in great detail the cleanliness of the facility. Eastern Europe makes Port-A-Potties look like Mr. Clean. We decided that McDonalds was the nicest place in town and headed back and ordered some icecream so that we could sit there a few more hours until our train came. Thank God it did. We boarded and were in a cabin with Thomas from Germany and Marjorie from Quebec. It started out quite steamy, but I woke up in the middle of the night freezing. Europeans should really think about adopting the American system of temperature control. I guess that's what you get for making last minute reservations in Eastern Europe.

We woke up in Sofia, Bulgaria. It was a nice place compared to where we had come from. We locked up our bags and were ready to head into the city. This time I was the one who had to use the bathroom at the train station. I figured that it couldn't be worse than Devin's experience...until I walked in and saw my toilet. It was more of a hole in the floor. The only time a woman should have to squat to relieve herself is while camping. Needless to say, I was disgusted, but I sucked it up and went.

We took a bus into town, but the toll booth wouldn't take our money. The bus driver waved us on anyway, and we got a free ride. We found a nice shopping mall and were very relieved to be back in the modern world. There was a movie theatre, so we checked out the times and vowed to come back. We walked several blocks to see the town square, churches, and relevant monuments before heading back to the mall. Devin had some more McDonalds, and I found a cafe called Bamboo where I got a fresh Greek salad and a smoothie made from fresh berries and apples, no artificial ingredients added!!! We bought tickets to Chronicals of Narnia, and much to our suprise it was in English! That didn't matter much anyway because I ended up sleeping through half of the movie, but at least the theatre was clean and had comfy reclining chairs. I used the theatre bathroom to wash my face, brush my teeth, and put up my hair. We also found a cafe and had yet another iced coffee before making our way back to the train station.

Much to my dismay, my bed on the train was a half-size top bunk. I stood in the hallway, hanging out the window, for as long as I possibly could before squeezing into my steaming hot bed, plugging my nose so I couldn't smell the guy across from me and his stinky feet. I woke up to the train conductor banging on the door, yelling, "Get your stuff, you're taking a bus to Athens." What? Our train was supposed to go directly to Athens. Five minutes later we were on the side of the road waiting for a bus. Since neither of us speak Greek, we pointed to the bus and asked, "Athina?" After a few nods, we assumed that was where we needed to be and boarded the bus. Three hours later we were dumped at the train station in downtown Athens. We made our way to the hostel and got checked in before heading out for lunch. I had yet another salad, and then we walked around Plaka, the shopping district, before taking refuge from the scorching sun. Devin and I finally got to take our first showers in four days, and it was the best shower of my life. It think I was in there for at least forty-five minutes.

Four days of no bathing obviously deserves an iced coffee, so we headed to the nearest Starbucks and replanned the remainder of our trip. We were able to fit in all of Italy, north to south, Monaco, and a little excursion to Interlaken, Switzerland, adventure capital of the world, for some skydiving. We stopped by the market and picked up some veggies, pasta, and chicken and went back to the hostel and whipped up a little dinner. We ate on the patio of our hostel and had a cold drink on the rooftop, just under the Acropolis. Sitting on the roof in Greece, looking up at the Parthenon, one of the greatest and oldest buildings in the world, all while enjoying a mojito...what more could a girl ask for? We headed to bed and sweat out our entire supply of water while listening to the sounds of the city. I love this life.

The next morning we woke up and headed out early to beat the crowds and the heat. Devin and I hiked up the Acropolis and saw the Parthenon. We walked across town and saw the Temple of Zeus, and then we walked some more to the Agora. I think we saw just about every relevant monument and building of acient times in Athens all before lunch. We got some traditional spinach pie and gyros on the way back to the hostel. I did some laundry and drank some more coffee. We pretty much took it easy and stayed in during the afternoon heat, which doesn't really matter in Athens anyway since they don't have air conditioning. We spent the eveing concocting in the kitchen again for dinner and watched the sunset from the roof. We made friends with some pretty cool Austrailians and had fun hanging out last night.

This morning we got up and made our way to the train station in order to get to Patras on the west coast of Greece. Once we got there we realized that there were no trains. The offices were closed, and the strike continued. How are we going to get out of Greece? After a little bit of searching a some ingenuity, we found a bus to Patras and a ferry from Patras to Venice, Italy. We're now sitting in an internet cafe waiting to board our ship for our mini two day cruise. It's hot, we're tired, we both itch and are covered in bites (sorry, Dev), and we were worried that we would be stuck in Greece, BUT we're not in St. Joe, and we're having the summer of our lives. I couldn't have asked for a better way to start winding down the trip.

Tonight we're off to Italy where we'll spend a couple of days in Venice, my favorite city in the world, before seeing a few more countries, castles, and culinary delights, and then we'll be headed home...maybe...

Love you all!

Tags: athens, bucharest, bulgaria, greece, hungary, patras, sofia



If I can just get past the bug bites, the train strike and the pathetic bathrooms, I can then be jealous of your wonderful summer. I can't wait to see you in person and hear the wonderful "tales", you and Dev totally compliment each others stories. Love you and take care.

  sharon Jul 22, 2008 2:00 AM


Your writing reminds me of Forrest Gump with FAS, and you're a pretentious cunt in every sense of the term.

  Nicolai Aug 8, 2009 7:22 PM


And I wonder why I am treated with disdain when I travel abroad. Thanks for making s look bad...your pretensions are staggering.

  Casey Aug 9, 2009 12:16 AM


Kidding, surely?

Your entry hardly sits well with your description of yourself as having "a passion for travel; always up for an adventure." Word to the wise, love: Don't ever try and live in the jungle. I'm a professional traveler and even I spend an average 4 days a week sick as a dog. I think the first week would kill you.

  Kitteh Aug 9, 2009 7:09 AM


You summed up Romania wonderfully. I guess you wouldn't believe, but if you had given it a little longer, it is a place which you will fall in love over time - rather longer than a holiday!

At the moment, I am trying to build up a photo library of great pictures of Romania, and I would be thrilled if you would consider adding one of your pictures of Romania onto my site (http://www.Pictures-of-Romania.com), along with a comment about why you liked that particular place in Romania so much.

  Peter Fogarty Aug 23, 2009 4:44 AM

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