Up at 4:45. After sleeping for 10 hours straight, I felt like a new person! My body just needed rest! My flight was leaving Rome at 8:30 for Bucharest, Romania. Brian’s was leaving at 11:30 for Los Angeles. The plan was to take an Uber to Termini station, then take the train from there to the airport. I didn’t want to walk to Termini in the dark, because that area is pretty sketch. I checked the cab fares. 10 euros to Termini, then it would be 28 euros for us to take the train. I checked the cab fare from our door to the airport. 37-42 euros. SOLD! It ended up being 38 euros- the same cost as taking a cab to the train and the train to the airport.
We got to the airport super fast (by like 5:45am- because the cab driver was driving like a bat out of hell), and started looking for food. Oh gee, guess what? Just like yesterday, zero protein, all pastries. UGH!!!! Brian went up to get a coffee, and brought me back a fresh squeezed orange juice because he loves me. We then figured out that his Norwegian flight was in the same terminal as mine, so we decided to go into the main area past security and look for more food. We did find pizza there. Minimal protein, but better than nothing. I was getting sadder and sadder. I didn’t want Brian to go. And I didn’t even want to go to Romania without him. Like seriously, if it weren’t for my housesit in Switzerland that was coming up, I might have flown back to Los Angeles with him. But I would never leave a homeowner in a bind by cancelling. Plus, I knew I’d regret it if I went back early. That said, my fast travel experiment for this summer has already taught me that I’m not a fast travel girl. It’s ok in short spurts, but for me, not sustainable for weeks on end. It’s exhausting both mentally and physically. But I’m glad I tried it, because now I know and can plan accordingly for the future. This Romania leg is the last leg of ridiculous go-go-go, so I can do it!
All too soon it was time for me to leave my baby and go to my gate (it was through passport control, so Brian couldn’t come with me). Exactly one more month from today, and I’ll see him again… Today would be another European budget airline with crazy baggage restrictions- Blue Air. They have the same tiny dimensions as Ryan Air for your carry on, PLUS you can only take one bag. So if you have a purse or something, it has to fit in your carry on bag. I was stressing a bit about this, because I was a tad over size and about 3 kg overweight. If they were being strict, I’d have to put on about 6 layers of clothes… Got to the gate at 7:45 (about 30 minutes before boarding was supposed to begin), and the line was RIDICULOUSLY long. Everyone on this flight was already in line. That made me even more stressed, because I worried about being able to fit my bag on the plane. The good news was that pretty much everyone had a carry on bag and a personal item like a small backpack or a purse. Once the line started moving for check in, it went fast. I was 6th in line from the back… Not even a blink at my bags. We had to board a bus to go to the plane, and I situated myself at the door to get ahead of everyone and on the plane as fast as possible.
I boarded from the back of the plane because less people were queued there, and looked for seat 17D. From the back all the way to my seat, every single overhead was full. Got to my seat, pulled out my laptop, crammed my daypack under the seat, and a flight attendant came to me and led me forward to an overhead with space. Bless her!! No one said a word about my second bag, and unlike on Ryan Air where I had to literally stand on the seat and cram it into the overhead, it fit easily. Other people’s bags, not so much. It ended up being a complete cluster fuck right before take off because so many people put their bag in end to end ways and the doors wouldn’t close. So the attendants were scrambling to get those bags turned sideways, which meant moving bags all over the place, which meant heated conversations in languages I didn’t even recognize…all while babies were screaming in surround sound. Ryan Air is a flying bus. Blue Air is a flying chicken bus. However, they are a chicken bus that actually gives you a drink and a snack without charging you 8 euros for the privilege, so kudos to them!!
Arrived and breezed through passport control. One thing I’m learning on this trip… I have the ability to navigate public transportation with the best of them. I can climb on buses and figure out stops and blah, blah, blah. This is easily within my skill set. I also have a healthy bank account (due to the fact that I am a cheap ass), and frankly, I’m learning that the headache, hassle, and aggravation of navigating public transportation with luggage isn’t always worth the savings. I am learning that I will splurge on easier transport, and that my savings from staying in cheap airbnbs, housesitting, and rarely eating out MORE than offsets it. That said, and the fact that Romania doesn’t use Euros even though they’re in the EU and I had no interest in trying to change some out for bus money, meant Uber to the rescue!! 40 lei (about $10 usd, basically divide by 4) for a 35 minute door to door ride. Sold.
The drive through Bucharest wasn’t very exciting. No buildings that made me gasp in awe. Got to my little neighborhood-for-a-night and met the host’s mother outside. She doesn’t speak any English, but we had no problem communicating which of the 4 keys to use for which of the 4 doors, where everything was in the house, and she was quite proud that she knew the word for kitchen. 😊 And with that one word, she knows more English than I know Romanian… This place is great for $22 a night! Huge room, really clean, great location within walking distance to everything I want to see! First order of business, food. I googled for grocery stores and saw there was a Carrefour right around the corner! I know Carrefour- that and Monoprix are my French go-to grocery stores! Odd to find one here. Went, and it was an express- meaning more of a convenience store. I walked out. Looked on the map, there was another grocery store just down the block! Went in and EVERYTHING was in Russian! There was a bulk Pelmini freezer that looked very interesting, but I wasn’t interested in cooking.
Looked at the map again, and found another Carrefour a bit further down. Motherlode! This was a two story mega grocery store!! As always, I had fun wandering up and down the aisles trying to figure stuff out! If you love canned fish, there are about 899 brands here. I couldn’t figure out if any of them were exactly what I wanted (canned tuna salad that I could just pop open and spread on bread), so I gave up. I ended up with my staples- peanut butter (there are only 2 brands!), chips, granola bars, crackers (my Tucs that I love so much!!), cookies, salami, bread, water, bananas and….what is the main staple of my diet??? DR PEPPER!!!!! And only about $.83 per can for Diet!! Dear Romania, You rock. I have never in my life seen a store in another country with THREE varieties of Dr. Pepper!! Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU, from the bottom of my heart. With love and admiration, Mary.
Now for the hard part. Check out. I started putting my stuff on the belt, and the cashier said something to me in Romanian. I smiled my most charming and helpless smile and asked, “English?”. She just looked at me in disgust. Okey dokey then…. She got to the bananas and started saying something else in Romanian. It didn’t take me long to figure out that I was supposed to have weighed and tagged them in the produce section. She wasn’t pleased. Abandon bananas! Abandon bananas! I set the bananas aside gently and with an apologetic smile. I put my card in the machine, it went through without a hitch, and I swear to god she THREW the receipt at me. What the fuck?! You know how when you are completely disgusted with something, like a dirty rag, and you flick your wrist in that “I’m completely disgusted” kind of way? That’s what she did with me. It kind of fluttered down on top of my groceries at the end of the checkout stand. Um, ok. I bagged everything up in my canvas bag and backpack and left. She couldn’t shake me though….I had 8 Dr. Peppers!! Every single one of the zeros and diets on the shelf. 😊 And had spent less than $20. Not super cheap, but livable.
Walked back, snapped a couple of pictures, got all the right keys in the right doors, took a shower, ate, texted with Brian who was now in the Oslo, Norway airport waiting for his flight to LA, and rested. I originally had 3 adventures planned for this afternoon…two sites that I want to see, and a walking tour at 6pm. I decided that rest was more important. The next 10 days are going to be INSANE travel days, and I don’t want to get run down. I’ll hit the 2 sites in the morning before I check out at noon, and will live without a walking tour of Bucharest. For tonight, I’ll just listen to the yells out the window- knowing that is my cue to refresh my google screen to see the score of the France-Croatia World cup final. I know I’m in Eastern Europe, but #gofrance! While I’m writing this, France scored first, there was a yell. Then, Croatia scored- a MUCH louder yell!! Who needs to refresh for the score? I just have to judge the decibel of the yells. 😉 Spoiler alert: France won.