Regular readers of Bucharest Life will know that our son is a bit of a Bucharest public transport fan, and that dad increasingly resembles him.
So neither of us needed a second invitation on Saturday to head to RATB’s birthday party (RATB being the company that operates Bucharest buses, trolleybuses and trams).
To mark 100 years of serving the Bucharest public, RATB put on quite a show: seven vintage trams – two of which were horse drawn – and one brand new prototype paraded through the city and – quite literally – stopped traffic.
Amazingly, nobody seemed to mind. Instead of swearing and cursing, inconvenienced drivers simply got out of their cars and started taking pictures. All along the route people stopped to take photos, shops emptied as people came out to see what was going on and mothers on balconies hurried to go and get their children to come and have a look.
We saw all this from on board: having originally told our son that you couldn’t actually go on the trams, he convinced me you could, and so we climbed aboard what turned out to be a protocol tram and ended up being served cakes and drinks as we paraded through the city.
(As we have long said, speaking loudly in English can still open doors in Bucharest, even vintage tram doors).
Anyway, at the end of the line, Piata Sf. Gheorghe, a crowd of those who had been lucky enough to find out when and where the trams were going climbed aboard and dreamed of the day the prototype will go into active service.
At home, thousands of people who might have enjoyed a parade of old trams went on with their morning totally unaware of what was going on: only when the trams were featured on the evening news bulletins did most people in Bucharest find out about the event. We had only found out the day before, and then quite by accident. Even then we were unsure as to when and where exactly we could see the trams: we simply took a punt (we headed for the depot) and got lucky.
What’s more, the trams were in fact open to all: anyone could hop on and ride them, anywhere along the route, though few did as nobody had been made aware of the fact (and few are as cheeky as our son).
A shame, for this was a lovely event that went unnoticed by all but the most fervent tram-spotters (us), journalists in-the-know, RATB employees and those who simply happened to be on the route as the trams came past.
A shame then, but no real surprise. We wonder if the 30th anniversary of the Bucharest metro next month will be any better organised.