On the morning of the 21st, we caught our bus leaving Varna. The bus wasn’t a direct route to Bucharest, we stopped at Ruse, a border city in Bulgaria where we were to take another bus from Ruse to Bucharest. We were so excited and nervous when we arrived in Ruse, we made the first mistake of our travels: we walked away from the bus forgetting our bags. I realized the error and ran back just as the driver was closing up the luggage compartment. Phew!
We had some time to wait, so we found a table and unpacked some sandwiches we made in Varna before we departed and had lunch. Shortly after, we were waiting for our next bus and noticed a bus also going to Bucharest, so Desi ran and asked if it was ours. It was, and we had misread the time – we were 10 minutes late and they were looking for us. The moment we set foot on this bus it left, and hurried us on our way. Dodged another bullet! Ruse is a border city so it wasn’t long before we reached Romania:
The entrance to the country was a little anti-climactic, as you can see. The roads just as we crossed the border were in poor repair and there were many small villages that seemed worse off than those in Bulgaria. That changed when we arrived in the capital however, which clearly shows where the government is putting its money. We arrived in Bucharest and were literally dropped off on a street corner. We had no idea where in the city we were, or where we needed to go. All we had was the address and phone number of our hostel. We called the number and a man with a thick accent was on the other line, and tried to give us directions to no avail. I suppose we frustrated him, so he said he’d come and pick us up from where he was. Five to ten minutes later, we were on our way.
We checked in and left our bags, and the hostel owner continued being extremely helpful. He provided us with a map and told us of places to go and things to see, and off we went. The first thing we noticed was the fountains near the city center:
After asking the direction of the parliament, we started walking that way. Beautiful fountains and walkways, and guards on every corner that made for a fairly safe-feeling environment. Here’s a photo of a building near the parliament buildings (the actual parliament is less exciting and in the gallery below):
We headed down to a nice pedestrian area, and on our way Desi pointed out a tree that she wanted a photo of so she would model a painting after it. Personally, I think the photo itself is stunning and the best one I took that day:
We continued to walk down through a nice park area which was lined with flowers, and at the end was a nice little lake with a restaurant on the other side. The scenery was wonderful and there were many people just relaxing on the shores enjoying the evening sunlight, so we joined in:
At this point we were quite hungry so after a brief stop we headed to the restaurant. No one spoke English, and there wasn’t an English menu here either. We pieced together some words that were common to Bulgarian and knew we were ordering pizza and salad, as well as a few ingredients on each. We had a few surprises in the ingredients, but the meal was delicious overall. Here’s the view we had during dinner:
We walked back to the hostel from here with the last rays of sunlight, and were pleasantly surprised to see that the hostel owner had prepared a list of things for to see at our next destination, Brashov. The other people staying in the hostel that evening were also very helpful and informative, and we had free internet access so we used that to our advantage before calling it a night. The following morning, we boarded our train heading north to Brashov. Despite a few close calls and a few moments of confusion, our adventure across Europe started off with some wonderful experiences for both of us.