Romania to Bulgaria by Train
Finally the train from Russia arrives in Bucharest Nord after 2 a hour delay. Apparently it had broken down somewhere in Russia. I was eagerly waiting to begin the 9hour journey across some of the beautiful Romanian countryside I was excited all was going well !!!
I boarded the train and realised that almost all the seats were empty. Spoiled for choice, I found a nice empty seat, by the window. It was just me and one man at the end of the carriage. Immediately after I boarded the train there was an announcement and another followed by a long beep…. I couldn’t understand anything !! After a while, the car began to move with only two Romanian 2nd class compartment cars sandwiched between a couple of old soviet build sleeper waggons and a massive old engine completed this train. As we left Bucharest Nord it began its long journey that would reach Istanbul in two days.
Soon things changed!! The snow storm got worse !!! The train dragged its way across the beautiful Romanian countryside rocking side to side covered with a thick white blanket of snow as far as your eyes could see and then, a couple of hours later ….finally the inevitable happened…..the train came to a grinding halt. We were stranded in the middle of nowhere.
With harsh reality downing on me that I will not now make it to Sofia on time and would miss my ride to the Rila Monetary made me anxious and aggitated.
Nothing I could do was going to get me closer to my destination …… slowly hours passed as the snow storm got worse…… as night fell this journey had turned into a nightmare!! We were going nowhere!! Then the engine stopped giving way to the silence of the night. No heating, no water and no restaurant car and in the middle of a snow storm!! Just added misery to my journey ….nobody spoke English… I mean there were only 3 people in my carriage !!!!
Can’t read …..can’t write and no clue of what’s going on!! ….. Suddenly I felt like I was 5 years old again. In the words of Bill Bryson “ my sheer existence for the next 9 hrs was going to be based on a series of calculative guesses and luck “….. since I don’t believe in the latter… I thank the lord … This adventure has taught me that in life everything is not about reaching the destination on time … but the journey and the people that you meet along the way that matters
Late at night, the storm got worse and the snow pelted against the windows covering my only view of the outside world. It was quite eerie… the whole compartment was silent only to an occasional whisper from the adjoining cabin. I decided to walk through the carriages some were locked as people slept inside they seemed to accept this situation. Maybe there destinations were further than mine, maybe Istanbul ,maybe it was somehow normal …..hours passed. I met a few people…..some could speak English, others tried !! some looked at me curiously
Sharing “pogacha”(Traditional Bulgarian Bread) and a pile of mekitsi with jam a Bulgarian traveller in the last sleeper carriage taught me more about sincerity and kindness than I’ve experienced in a life time of rushing around on a day to day basis back home.
All these strangers all going somewhere united with a common bond that we were not getting any closer to our destinations… listening to them and getting a glimpse of their lives and hearing their perspectives of the their culture and their world has opened my eyes and challenged my deepest beliefs. It’s made me to trust my instincts and take that untraveled path to uncharted lands.. I also learnt that … everyone has a story that I’ve never heard before….. and everyone knows something that I don’t…… that … is worth knowing ….
4.00am cold and hungry on board an old soviet train
12th Jan 2014