This is the story of how I got stranded in Bucharest, Romania.
In order for this story to make any sense, you need to know two things:
I am terrible at reading maps.
I had an irrational fear of taxies due to the fact that I’d read and heard so many warnings against un-booked taxis in Bucharest.
One of the guys who worked in the hostel in Brasov told me about some girl who had had to pay around 50 euros for a trip which should’ve cost 10 because the drivers hiked up the taxi price.
I didn’t want that to happen to me, so I was really wary of getting a taxi in Romania. It may seem a little paranoid (and it was!), but when people who are from the country you’re visiting keep warning you about the same thing in said country you do tend to listen to them.
If any of you get stranded in Bucharest, I recommend you do get a taxi and just have a clear idea of how much it should cost. Learn a tiny bit of Romanian, negotiate the price beforehand and go enjoy your night.
I’ll admit that I was really nervous about boarding the over night train to Brasov.
Prior to booking my train ticket, I had spent some time googling the best (and cheapest) way to get to Romania by land. Before I’d even come to Europe I had talked about the prospect of getting a train to Romania with my friend from Prague, and he told me that the trains would be old fashioned, they wouldn’t have charging points, the trains would always be 3 hours late, and they would almost certainly break down.
He told me that traveling around Romania counted as ‘advanced level’ traveling.
Did I mention how awesome my hostel in Budapest was?
I stayed at Friends Hostel & Apartments. This hostel is literally two minutes walk away from Oktogon station on the Metro, it’s within easy walking distance to most of the places you’d want to go, it’s literally five minutes away from the best vegan burger place ever, and it’s also five minutes away from Haus of Terror.
I stayed in the six-bed female dorm and it came with sofas, a chandelier, mirrors, comfortable beds, a kitchen (although the microwave did not work), and it’s close to loads of shops and takeaways. This was one of the nicest rooms I have ever stayed in and it only came to £5 a night!
I’m afraid I’ve been lumbered with work for the last couple of days and so I’ve been neglecting this blog. Updating it every day might have been a bit of an ambitious idea, but I’m going to try harder so don’t give up on me!
Today is my last day in Budapest. ?
I’m in this restaurant on my own and the waiter guy was so clearly judging me for going there alone (or more probably being a woman eating alone) which is weird because the whole reason I decided to come in here was that there were two other people on their own. Actually strike that, another lonesome guy just walked in so there are THREE of us now.
I don’t normally eat in actual restaurants alone, I’m more about the food courts, cafes and informal places without waiters, but I’ve been walking for about four hours ever since The House of Terror and if I didn’t eat and drink soon I was going to go mad and/or collapse. To make up for the awkwardness I’m trying to look all sophisticated and writery so they think I’m reviewing this place so they stop judging and start giving me free stuff.
So on with the blog. I’ll get to the beautiful city which is Budapest (or rather Buda and Pest as it used to be) in due course, but first, let’s catch up with the last few days in Prague.
People in Prague really don’t celebrate Halloween. Or rather they do but apparently, it’s on the 2nd of November and is more of a ‘day of the dead’ type thing. So it was a bit weird bring in the hostel and seeing everyone else Halloween photos from back home when I literally just saw one group of people dressed up here and realistically they were tourists, but the night was still quite fun.
I ended up drinking with some Spanish and German people in the hostel kitchen and played an array of confusing drinking games. I also went over the bridge onto the other side of Prague and walked up a very big hill to get an amazing view of the city. The lovely Kavita took me up there as she was somehow already an expert on the entire city (make sure to look at her blog).
1st of November
This was my last day in Prague and I’d finally got to grips with the city (with a lot of help from Google maps, of course, thank God for 02s European travel offer) so I made my way back across the bridge to take a look at John Lennon’s wall. There was a guy playing the guitar and singing his songs and it was a beautiful example of street art.
I accidentally ended up having the healthiest lunch ever mostly because I went into this healthy foods cafe place because I wanted to charge my phone and they had plugs and so I ended up having a meal made up entirely of vegetables. It was really nice though.
I ended up getting a private tour of the Alchemy Museum led by a really hot Czech guy as I was the only one there for that particular time. The Alchemy Museum is pretty cool. You go underground and see these little rooms where they used to make alchemy positions without anyone ever finding out until last century, and you get there through a real life revolving bookcase!
The fumes from the potions they were making used to waft up into the streets and they made everyone so high that they kept hallucinating and apparently they were all convinced that these fiery goats were coming at them.
Apparently, the philosophers stone from Harry Potter was a real thing( or person) which goes back to the BC times (maybe that’s common knowledge, I’m not sure). In any case, the tour was really interesting and I highly recommend it.
Oh, and on my way to the Alchemy tour, I stumbled across this art gallery which was full of neon heads and mechanical legs.
After the tour I met up with my local friend and we went to a bar/restaurant place that did loads of vegetarian options (there is nothing quite like a free burrito when you’re traveling!) and we went to a German bar and this awesome little tiki cocktail place. It definitely helps to know a local who can show you all the stuff you’d miss as a tourist.
On my way to the Alchemy tour, I stumbled across this art gallery which was full of neon heads and mechanical legs.
Prague is a really good place for vegetarians. They price the food by weight, but my plates were pretty packed and they were still really cheap.
Prague is a beautiful city which literally looks like it fell out of a fairy tale. It is a very popular tourist destination (even though I went in October/November it was still pretty rammed) and it’s not as cheap as the rest of the Czech Republic, but it is still one of those places that you have to see to believe.
Check back soon for my entries on Budapest, Brasov, and Bucharest!
This post was originally published in October 2016. Roaming charges in Europe are now free for other European citizens (which includes the U.K for the moment).
October 26, 2016
My feet are aching.
I’ve finished my work for now so today was my first real chance to see Berlin properly. I am pretty hopeless at regular maps and I didn’t want to end up lost in some strange suburb so to get to the Berlin Wall Memorial I ended up spending £13 on the data for Google maps before remembering 02 does European add-ons for £1.99 a day, so that’s just fabulous.
When I first got to the wall I thought I was in the wrong place. I’m not totally sure what I was expecting to see but somehow I wasn’t expecting to see.. a wall. Like a regular concrete wall.
I’d thought the East Side Gallery and the Berlin Wall Memorial were the same thing so I actually went into the Berlin Memorial Museum to see how I could get to the main wall before realizing that what I was thinking of is about an hour’s walk away in a totally different direction.
Even if wasn’t quite what I was expecting I’m still really glad I saw the Berlin Wall Memorial. I’ve done a lot on Nazi Germany but I didn’t know much about the cold war and the time of divided Germany so I learned quite a lot today. They have all these individual accounts of people living on the wrong side of the wall and there’s a viewing platform where you can normally see way past the wall to the surrounding landmarks.
Walking around the wall, reading all the information and seeing the memorial to the people who died is quite intense. It seems so crazy that all these people were shot trying to get to the other side of the street and you just can’t imagine now how that would work or what that would be like, but it was only about 60 years ago. It’s even crazier that some people *coughTRUMPcough* still want to build walls today.
Getting back from the wall was way trickier than it should have been. I somehow ended up on this long distance train going to Oranienburg because I thought it was the station just outside where my hostel is when it’s actually not even in Berlin.
I realized a few stops in and then has to get the underground allllll the way back to Alexanderplatz and then Another train back to the hostel so I could get some wifi and collapse on the sofas with one of their €1.80 beers.
After some recouping time (and a cheeky beer or two) I went back out to see Checkpoint Charlie, the Holocaust museum, and the Fuhrerbunker. Checkpoint Charlie is about half an hour away via foot from the hostel but it’s literally down one massively long road so it wasn’t exactly complicated. On the way, I stumbled across some beautiful buildings.
Checkpoint Charlie itself is worth seeing and its another reminder of this divided Berlin that is so hard to imagine now, but the nearby museum was about €11 and the act of paying for museums offends me as a Londoner so that didn’t happen.
Berlin is an amazing city which is full of history, beauty, and tragedy in equal measure. My original blog post was a lot longer than this, but I’ve decided to break day four into two posts as the next one (the Holocaust Memorial) should really be read on its own.