Night train to Bucharest

2013-07-31 10.03.36

Unless you have really not been paying attention, then it would not have escaped your notice that we have spent the past fortnight at the other end of Romania, in Petresti, Satu Mare.

All good things must come to an end, however, and so last night we left Petresti, and returned home on the sleeper train from Carei to Bucharest. It was not, by any stretch of the imagination, an altogether wonderful experience.

CFR_Ticket

For a start there is the price of a ticket: 226 lei (one-way) for a berth in a two-person compartment (the other person in the compartment was Mrs. Bucharest Life: if you are travelling alone and want to make sure that you have the compartment to yourself you need to pay a supplement of 92 lei). Given, therefore, that at today’s exchange rate our ticket cost over €50, we think we are more than entitled to take a closer look at just what you get for your money on Romania’s railways.

The short answer is: not much.

You do not, for example, get much in the way of speed.

The distance (by rail) from Carei to Bucharest is 746 km, with the journey scheduled to take a whopping 14 hours nine minutes (an average speed of just over 53 kph – 32 mph in old money). Yet even such modest speeds as these are rarely hit: our journey actually took 15 hours 19 minutes (yes, it was over an hour late: check the arrivals board pictured below), an average speed of just 48.75 kph (barely 30 mph). That’s pathetic.

Gara de Nord Bucharest Departures Board

Such delays would be understandable if Romania’s railways were a busy, bustling hive of activity, with thousands of trains coming and going from Bucharest’s Gara de Nord each day. In fact, there are fewer trains on the railways than ever, and just 210 trains arrive at or depart from Gara de Nord every day. That the railways are close to capacity and resources overstretched is not, therefore, a viable excuse.

Neither do you get much in the way of comfort. The sleeping carriages on most Romanian trains are old and in serious need of reconditioning (or replacing altogether). CFR (Romanian Railways) do have some modern sleeping coaches, complete with air conditioning that works and with toilets and showers in every compartment. These, however, are few and far between. In fact, we have only ever seen them on the Bucharest-Cluj route, and then on only one of the two night trains that runs between the two cities.

Alas, the carriage we were lumbered with on our trip back from Carei was one of the older sleeping coaches still in use. From the outside it didn’t look all that bad, but then – to steal a line from a particularly good episode of Only Fools and Horses – that’s what the Christians said about the Colosseum.

Inside, the first thing which hits you is the heat: the carriages had clearly been in a siding under the blazing sun all day, and were therefore hotter than your average oven. There is no air conditioning at all (not even in the corridor), and so the only respite from the heat is the breeze which comes in through the (small) window as you speed along at 32mph. (Fortunately, having your own compartment means you do not have to worry about anyone complaining about curent).

Each compartment in the sleeping wagon comes with two beds, kitted out with crisp, clean sheets and comfy pillows: if we have one word of praise for the sleeping car it is for the always impeccably turned down beds.

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CFR: Not much good at trains, but they do iron a lovely sheet

You also get a sink, which rather optimistically has both hot and cold taps. As you might imagine of course, irrespective of which tap you turn on, the water is always cold.

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There is also an electrical socket which, while clearly labelled (in German, helpfully) as being only for razors, can be used for just about anything. We have charged phones and used laptops with these plugs and nothing has yet blown up or caught fire.

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Until recently, you would also get a little travel pack containing a bottle of mineral water, a toothbrush, some toothpaste, soap and some hand towels. This little luxury extra has disappeared of late, alas. On the positive side, however, passengers do get the free use of two coat hangers throughout the duration of the trip. Which is great.

Finally, there is the unavoidable issue of the khazi.

These, in our experience, vary from merely awful to outright disgusting. Fortunately, the toilet we had to use last night was of the merely awful variety. It flushed properly and was even stocked with both hand towels and loo roll (we had, of course, brought our own: only beginners board a Romanian train without any toilet paper). There were, in fact, two toilets in the carriage: one also had a shower. Do we need to say that it did not work?

In a desperate attempt, however, to end on a positive note, we were mildly impressed with Gara de Nord itself when we arrived back in Bucharest. There is now free Wifi throughout, good news for everybody of course, but especially welcome for foreigners arriving in Bucharest who do not want to rack up huge data roaming bills while checking out highly informative mobile websites (such as, ahem, m.inyourpocket.com) to find the best way of getting into the city centre or to their hotel/hostel.

The station network is called Train Delivery.

The other small improvement is the appearance of a number of clear, well-designed station maps. Again, not a huge deal, but they are a welcome addition, not least for new arrivals.

2013-07-31 09.47.59
Relatively helpful, but we'd rather have a proper train service...

139 thoughts on “Night train to Bucharest

  1. Great report Craig and MORE like these please as the rail network is something I use every single time I am in Romania (yes I’m mad)

    On a serious note it is useful for a foreigner as you get to see the country better than a flight and it is ‘fairly’ cheap or an absolute bargain if you compare the prices to the UK but just don’t compare travel times for distances!

    I used the overnight train to Iasi and found it’s almost exactly as you described apart from my compartment had no sink but crisp sheets it did!

    I also got charged extra for being single in a compartment which was going to be single anyway as the sleeping carriage wasn’t even half full in the first place! Oh and did they take your ticket off you and return it on arrival with a wake up ‘knock’ roughly 30 mins from destination ???

    The slowness is painful and Iasi – Gara De Nord is only a 6-7 hours journey so bearable BUT 14 going on 15 hours LOL ! Well played Craig, you deserve a medal !

    There are so many ‘quirks’ of the rail system and I think I’ve gone on enough but hope this thread creates some debate as it’s a subject close to my heart!

    Oh and least in a ‘sleeping cabin’ you don’t get the people trying to sell you stuff, usually by placing it next to you and then returning some time later to see if you wanted something or having to share a previously unoccupied 1st class compartment where a ‘native’ with a 2nd class ticket (if a ticket at all) thinks it is OK to come and share your first class (paid for) relative comfort and personal space!

    On the Iasi train(winter only experience) …. I now get a first class compartment and sleep on the seats ….. Cheaper and as comfy as paying for a ‘cushette’ *excuse spelling!

    Oh and then there is that bizarre changing of the engine and direction halfway between buc and iasi where the train stops for 15 mins!

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  2. The only time I travelled to the seaside by train was in 2007. It was supposedly an InterCity train – the (in)famous Sageata albastra. Bucharest to Constanta, roughly 225km, took about 8 hours; the train left around 6AM and we arrived in Constanta around 2PM.

    Also supposedly at the time there was work on the rail line, but still… that’s an InterCity train with an average speed of less than 30km/h! Beat that, Craig! :))

    Amazingly, a slower rapid train which left from Bucharest roughly an hour after our IC train, overtook us (we were at a standstill) around Cernavoda and arrived half an hour before us in Constanta. So we paid more money for an hour and a half longer trip!

    I also remember that I nearly got in a fight with one of the attendants over the state of the AC. At 6AM, when it was still very cool outside, the AC was full on and we were very chilly. Late July, heading to the seaside in shorts and t-shirts, and we were freezing our asses off. At 12PM, when there was already a blazing heat outside, the AC was turned off and the whole train was a simmering stew! When I asked an attendant why the AC is off, I got the daftest answer:

    “I turned it off a couple of hours ago because someone complained it was too cold.”

    “Of course it was too cold, it was a cool early morning and the AC was on. Now it’s very hot and the AC is off! What’s this upside-down logic?”

    “I told you, I turned it off because someone complained about the AC. Argue with him, not with me.”

    “But you’re the attendant! And it’s very hot! Turn the damned AC on!”

    “Look, sir, if you don’t calm down we’re going to have to take measures.

    I didn’t calm down, I was boiling both literally and figuratively. A few mild expletives followed… of course, he didn’t dare take any “measures”, but he also didn’t turn on the AC. He just left. Oh, joy…

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  3. Foarte surprins dar totusi mirat ca si in Romania dupa asa zisa facta Revolutie au inceput unele schimbari de renovare la transportul public Feroviar si anume ”C.F.R.” Sa speram ca in viitorul apropiat vom auzii de mai multe renoiri la trenurile personale atit si accelerate plus acele vagoane de dormit , eu calatorind ultima oara dela Bucuresti -Oradea in acele vagoane de dormit antice ca fara prea multe de ales versus altor companii feroviare Din Europa ( ex: Franta) unde placerea de a calatorii noaptea iti asigura orce confort exact al secolului 21 .

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  4. Deasemenea am uitat sa mentionez care este adevaratul motiv la care in general toate trenurile de pasageri merge cu aceasta viteza mediocra de 30 de mile pe ora , cred ca o majorare de viteza sa zicek 60-70 de mile pe ora ar fi mult de preferat special la distante mari de peste 200 de Km ,ori aici aceasta organizatie de Cai Ferate (C.F.R.) NU are prea mult interes din alte motive care probabil unii le cunosc , ori poate este necesar de inlocuirea acestor trenuri cu alte noi care sa aiba posibiltatea de a merge cu viteza mentionata mai sus ,iar acele vechituri depe timpul ”Communismului ” sa le foloseasca pentru transportului intre satucele din Romania .

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  5. This is an amazing post. I could have left Salt Lake City flying Delta at the same moment you left Petresti and you would have beaten me to the city by only 6 minutes. SLC-PDG-OTP=15hrs 25min total travel including layovers

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  6. If they sorted out the damn speed of the trains there would be no need for sleeper carriages in the first place. God and I thought the roads were bad…

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    1. Yes I guess this is the point. Had to chuckle at Roger and his night train to Iasi: about 15 years ago I used to go to Iasi a lot and the train was not a night service: it took just over five hours.

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      1. Agree with Anon regarding the speed element, surely this could be improved slightly as the rolling stock is capable and surely the track is suitable for an increase in KPH!

        As Craig has said, just over 5 hours to iasi from Buc 5 years ago is MUCH better than the current 61/2 – 7 as it is now!

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  7. I just came down from Maramures yesterday morning and took the train overnight from Baia Mare to Bucharest. I was in a 6 person couchette with the tickets costing me 136.50 RON each way. Somehow this time around I had finally reached my limit with Romanian trains. It was no longer a novelty. The inordinately slow speed of 50 km/hr (12 hours to do 624 km) was like Chinese water torture. I simply will no longer take trains here. This kind of distance is covered in at most 3 hours in France or Germany. The inefficiency of CFR is mind boggling. A number of times we spent 20 minutes at stations.

    To add to this profound frustration, I toured Lipscani last night and was utterly annoyed by the loud music everywhere, masses of who knows who and just the total lack of ambience these days. I really do remember often being the only one walking the streets of Lipscani at night back in 2007-2009 when I’d head to the Amsterdam on Str. Covaci.

    It was much better to head to Gradina Eden which is the coolest, hippest garden party going on this summer in Bucharest. A bottle of Terra Romana Rose shared with a passionate Romanian woman named Daniela was the way to go in the end: http://instagram.com/p/cuYBOpvLUL/#

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  8. You should have taken one of them iffy looking transit people carrier vans. The drivers do their best to bang out 100mph whilst pissed out of their skulls!

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    1. I had to laugh when I recently read that the Transylvanian Highway contract has been cancelled :))) Ten years later and only 50 odd kms built out of a total of 415 and now it is totally stalled. Romania is a true backwater of a country and will remain so in the future. I always thought Maramures life would change for example and yet what I witnessed on Tuesday of this week was the High Middle Ages raging on in full force. You’d have to see it to believe it! Straight out of a Bruegel painting! It’s as if Romanians perversely do not want to progress. There’s some bizarre psychological aspect intrinsic to Romanians at work here I think. Other former Eastern-Bloc nations have moved on. Romania remains in a kind of time warp in 2013. I’ll never understand how this country is managed. It’s not rocket science to be able to travel from northern Romania to Bucharest in a few hours either by train or car.

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      1. @Davin. Nobody is keeping you here! You are free to move on to another better super douper Eastern European country. Take your pick, there are many to choose from.

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      2. As objectionable as he might be at times, a drunk parmalat is significantly brighter and more insightful that a sober BMW-I’ve been here since 2000-ceausescu-you’re poor Davin

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      3. Davin, surely you understand “how this country is managed” if you admit that those in power are corrupted.

        Expatescu, find out on your own whether Parmalat is Davin and don’t get Craig involved in this. I hate it when he breaks privacy rules and makes public one’s location.

        Parmalat, you being always drunk explains your sophisticated and incisive line of thought and most definitely accounts for your excessive smiling.

        Mr. Rearguard, hi!

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      4. “Expatescu, find out on your own whether Parmalat is Davin and don’t get Craig involved in this. I hate it when he breaks privacy rules and makes public one’s location”

        He’s never done that…

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      5. How soon they forget…
        About two or such years ago you and/or the guy with the c*nt obsession or someone just as much of a gentleman were doing your usual thing – in that case was harassing what the name suggested were two ladies – when one of the above suggested that the two women are likely the same person (a softie/dog enthusiast or something along those lines, God remembers what the topic was) and were “probably posting from the same IP”. If my memory serves me well Craig replied something like “…they don’t even post from the same country…” In my book that means revealing personal information. (Craig is probably in the cahoots not only with you guys but with the NSA as well – I am waiting for more stuff from Snowden to prove that.) Otherwise he is not cranky about too many things.

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      6. If you are referring to me in the above message (it’s hard to tell), I can only suggest that you are off your meds.

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      1. Street photography is about exploring the world as it plays out in real time on the street–the place where everything you might wish to see or experience in life can occur. For such decisive moment photography, one doses not usually stop and ask permission to shoot a picture as the moment and its spontaneity will have been lost. If people protest, of course I respect their wishes.

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      2. There’s little separating you from the parasitic tabloid photographers. No only did you not even bother seeking permission, you published the photograph labeling her as a begging gypsy. If you’re going to use the less fortunate for your own benefit, then at least have the common decency to tip her for it.
        If you have done that to me I would have hunted you down and shoved that camera up your arse.

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    1. For someone who professes to love Romania so much you don’t half have an aloof and condescending attitude at times towards the people of Romania, much like your barbed comments relating to people who live in apartments as opposed to your villa in Bucharest.

      I would have imagined someone who on the face of it seemed intelligent, would have had a better understanding of the country he spends so much time in including the people and culture of Romania too.

      With regards to the photo you took, I agree with Anon. Of course it is personal choice regarding giving to the less fortunate and I do as I feel in that respect, but I don’t go around taking photos of people without permission and then mocking their potential intentions without even considering a token of your appreciation for them unwittingly participating in your ‘photo collection’

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      1. @Davin

        It’s a practice I am not familiar with so fair enough but I guess the point I was agreeing with Anon about was the fact you mocked the ladies intentions and yet you were happy to use her for your benefit.

        That and the other manner which you have mocked the Romanian culture without thinking what you are saying beforehand. Questioning why people would choose to live in apartments rather than a Bucharest Villa springs to mind! I mean, think about what you are saying sometimes mate, seriously!

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      2. @Roger, I am not mocking her intentions and I am not using her for my benefit. Taking an iPhone picture and uploading to Instagram does not benefit me in any way.

        Unlike the corrupt Romanian government and former communists who control politics and business here and continue to steal Romania from its people, I am simply commenting on what I see–profound paradoxes within the Romanian culture! My anger is at Ceausescu and the communist regime who seem to have bastardized Romanian culture. Even Romanians who live in historic villas do not seem to appreciate them, badly renovating them and installing thermopan windows etc. My feeling as I walk around Bucharest is that there is a profound disconnect between the Romanian culture of pre-WWII Bucharest and that of today. The people I see on the streets don’t seem to fit the back drop of historic villas. If more people questioned what is going on here, Bucharest would be an altogether different city.

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      3. @Davin

        I agree regarding the nature of Romanian politics regarding the people who COULD make great changes for the benefit of all but the desire is just not there ……. In fact similarities with so called more ‘advanced’ countries regarding the politicians helping the poor and lower classes is not uncommon.

        The whole communist regime of the past is a strange one, in some cases it has made Romanian as a nation far more rounded than others ……. The low crime rate is something which amazes me coming from the UK, and as you’re from the USA I presume it amazes you too.

        The issue of Bucharest not fitting with it’s past as much as you’d imagine is you have to appreciate the major changes the country has gone through in a short space of time ….. WW2 occupation – Cold War Communism and now broken free to so called Westernisation and now potential ruling under the EUSSR umbrella !

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      4. There is a low crime rate because the communist-era mentality of being controlled by the Securitate persists! There’s a paranoia here that has to be seen to be believed.

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      5. For a number of years there have been articles in the international press about the “Cybercrime Capital of the world” – Ramnicu-Valcea aka Hackerville.

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      6. @Giuseppe

        Yes, I have seen these reports and by all accounts they have some truth in them.

        Also there were over 24,000 separate arrests in the Metropolitan Borough of London alone of Romanian nationals in a calender year ……. These will vary from very trivial crimes to the odd serious one but they are recorded arrests on record.

        Yet my experience and crime figures to support my view that Bucharest and Romania is a very safe country for anybody who spends time there and perhaps the trivial ‘petty’ crime may well go unrecorded the violent more ‘nasty’ type of crimes are thankfully few and far between.

        A credit to Romania and its people for that.

        (Please bear in mind that of the 24,000 or so arrests in London, a single persistent offender of say ‘begging’ offence may be culpable for dozens of the 24,000 recorded arrests on record and indeed an arrest is not always confirmation of guilt ……… But I am not naive to dismiss there is a significant problem in that particular area with criminal acts from the Romanian population and yet these people DO NOT represent the Romanian culture and population I have come across and I guess likewise with some of the odious drunk Brits who invade the European resorts over the summer months too!

        No nation is perfect and we all have our fair share of idiots!

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      7. @Davin

        Is that mentality such a bad thing? Would you rather the ‘violent’ crime be as it is in the US or the UK?

        I wouldn’t and that is one of the primary reasons I love Romania, it is without doubt one of the safest places I have ever been with particular reference to the capital city. Can’t think of another safer capital city in Europe, can you?

        @Craig

        Yes, fair point, petty crime from taking a ‘free’ ride on a bus too pick pockets or dubious ‘I have no change for a 50lei note’ taxi drivers is par for the course! Hell I’ve even taken a ‘free’ ride on a bus as I just followed suit with the locals (and couldn’t find an open ticket booth either!)

        But yes, there has to be a major factor which governs why Romania is a relatively safe country violent crime wise compared to the UK for example.

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    2. @Davin
      She was trying to “extort” money from you?? English is not my first language but from what I know “to extort” means “to obtain from another by coercion or intimidation”.
      While I certainly would agree that certain beggars are annoying with their persistence I do not think begging = extorting. It is a good thing you showed us the photo. The woman in the photo does not look violent or intimidating, especially considering she even stayed there long enough to allow you to take her photo.
      Like the user “Anon” , I also wouldn’t take it lightly if someone took a photo of me without asking my permission. Not all the people enjoy being photographed (even if they are in a public space) without their consent and then to see themselves on a stranger’s site/ blog.

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  9. On the subject of trains …… Can anyone enlighten me on the Bucharest to Chisinau train from Gara De Nord as I can’t find anything on the Merseaul Treneloir website ?

    Does it still exist, when does it run and how would I go about finding the info and purchasing a ticket, as anyone who only speaks English and tried purchasing a ticket from Gara De Nord will know it’s not a simple task!

    In fact it is much easier dealing with the ‘younger English’ speaking generation in KFC, McDonalds etc compared to the slightly older generation that work in the rail ticket offices (although they do try their best the language barrier makes a simple query and issue!)

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    1. ?! It does still exist indeed and you can purchase the ticket at the Gara de Nord. Am headed up there myself by train next week. Just tell them you want to go to Chisinau. It’s an overnight train.

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      1. Thanks for that, although my worry is trying to successfully purchase and discover train times for departure and return ……. And can you leave the train near Iasi on return/which route does it take etc ….

        I was hoping there was a timetable or website with detailed info, price etc.

        I have found it a struggle in the past to get a simple return ticket to iasi from bucuresti before now. Although my VERY basic Romanian gets me by now (in this case only) …… I just say dus intors Gara iasi and class uno va rog and that usually gets me a funny look and a ticket!

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      2. @Craig.

        Maybe you have a link for this info on Chisinau train Craig or at least have some empathy with a non Romanian speaking Brit who’s looking for sound advice please 🙂

        Any info of Buc to Chisinau or even Iasi to Chisinau vica versa by train only preferred.

        Thanks all in advance!

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      3. @Craig

        Brilliant, thanks mate ….. I take it Wasteels is that ticket agency on the right as you go in the left entrance at the front of GDN?

        Thanks for link anyway and googled Wasteels website and it says the train stops in iasi so that’s perfect for me ….. Much appreciated mate (genuinely)

        @Rearguard

        LOL 🙂 …… Although I’m a Brit, I’d like to think I’m not your typical embarrassing Brit abroad and always found it amusing that the way many of us (them) try and communicate with other language speaking cultures is too shout loudly in English as if that makes us any easier to understand!

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      4. @The Turpster. What do you mean ‘no English football’ on any Rommy tv channel? You mean DIGI no longer show it? I’m expecting DIGI round my place soon to install it, after I’ve given the Spanish archer to Dolce! Gawd knows what the chaps in Bucharest are doing, now that Oscars is kaput?!?!

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      5. @Rearguard

        Oscars no more?

        Used to go in there and The Dubliner as they always showed the football although the latter didn’t half have an obnoxious landlord!

        I guess bet cafe arena are going to have to subscribe to Sky Sports from now on !

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      6. Yeah I remember that landlord too. I’ve never liked South Africans either, mostly bully boys with a chip on their shoulder. But fack me, last I heard he’s been shagging some young lass for the past 6 years (she’s probably late 20’s now?) and he’s still a miserable sod!? Anyway I don’t venture into that part of Bucharest anymore.

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      7. Oscars is closed? Well I sure as hell won’t shed any tears.
        Were you talking about the landord of Oscars or Dubliner Mr.R? Hard to tell with your description.

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      8. @Anon. If you read Rogers post above mine (because I was replying to his), he mentions ‘an obnoxious landlord’ and that is the one I am writing aboot…that is the one from Dubliners. The landlord from Oscars seems to be a very good chap indeed.

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      9. @Anon

        I was talking about The Dubliner landlord Dave I think? Oldish Irish guy, what an obnoxious character he is! (my opinion naturally) and the other guy at Oscars (Stewart I think, bald head) seemed the polar opposite (all my own opinions of course)

        Either way, BOTH were good to watch Premier league footy and hope they are both still there in November to do the same!

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      10. @Giuseppe

        Yes mate, I hear it was around 20 odd million for the rights to show Premier League and alas digi won’t be showing the Prem (heard this last night from a friend)

        I am hoping to use my Sky Sports subscription via Sky Go when abroad by seeing if a UK proxy IP can be used …… as ”officially” you can’t view Sky Go outside of UK and Ireland …..

        I guess I’ll soon find out 🙂

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      11. Digi no longer have the rights. No Romanian TV station has them. An intermediary bought them from the Premier League, hoping to sell them on to Digi or Dolce or whoever at a profit. Both Digi and Dolce said bugger off. I have heard, however, that come mid-September a cut-price deal will be done, with the rights probably split between Digi and Dolce (as they do with the Champions League).

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      12. Well for those who missed United V Chelsea tonight, you didn’t miss much, a game with very few chances and 0-0 was right scoreline.

        Funniest part was when Rooney got the ball and united and chelsea fans BOTH chanted ROONEY ROONEY together 🙂

        Although that chant was topped by City’s ”Where were you when you were Blue” piss take to Cardiff City supporters as their team the ‘Bluebirds’ played in their ‘new’ Red Home Kit at the weekend 🙂

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      13. @Craig,

        Brilliant thread and without the risk of polarising your website some more of these ”train thread experiences” would be great to see more of them!

        The most ‘quirky’ has to be the so called Henri Coanda ‘Express’ 🙂

        Yes I’ve used it as by a bizarre coincidence one of the few times it actually runs coincided with a flight of mine !

        A one track route, dumped at a station in the middle of nowhere, no info on what to do etc etc ……. Just waited with the half dozen or so others with luggage for a minibus to shuttle from their to airport ….. God knows what they would have done IF train was full as the minibus was full with us and luggage alone!

        Around 8 lei I think all in ……. I would use again BUT far too infrequent services and the uncertainty of the arrival of the minibus when flights booked means I’ll probably stick to a speed taxi on the majority of occasions !

        * Unless the Henri Coanda section of metro is open anytime soon 🙂 (he says tongue firmly in cheek)

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    2. Hello, Roger,
      the train is called PRIETENIA (friendship)
      Bucuresti 19:40 – Chisinau 9:00
      Chisinau 16:35 – Bucuresti 6:00
      tickets from gara de nord, “casa de bilete international”
      important advice: before the border controls, (around midnight) they’ll lock the toilet and will open it only after leaving the Ungheni station, around 4 am.
      as this is a Moldovan train (non EU), smoking is allowed at the end of the carriage.
      other option I used sometime:
      night train Bucuresti – Iasi, arrived there 5 am or so and then took a bus to Chisinau – the bus station is right across the street.
      other option I used: night train to Iasi then took a taxi to the border, then stopped a car to pass me on the other side, then took a taxi from the border to Chisinau.
      there is only ONE train from Iasi to Chisinau – and it’s this one, coming from Bucuresti.
      > if you buy the return ticket from Chisinau, I think it’s slightly cheaper, but they’ll ask you for your passport in order to write some of your data on it.
      have a nice trip !

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      1. @ioana

        Hi, Thank you very much for that. The tip regarding the break from being able to use the loo is something handy to know!

        I also like your idea of perhaps taking a taxi from the border to Chisinau, any idea on cost please, roughly? And I take it you can’t cross the border on foot hence you saying get a life in a car over …. and then take a taxi.

        Failing that I’ll just take the train and hope I can possibly board the train at Iasi rather than Bucharest (if possible?) and on the way back hopefully I can get off the train at iasi too ………. So if possible I’ll be looking to take a train from iasi to chisinau and then chisinau to iasi …… and buy ticket from Gara Iasi (if this is possible)

        Failing my ideal plan above …….. I may just have to take train from Bucharest and return to Bucharest (as I’ll spend time in Bucharest on my trip anyway) …..

        Hope I am making sense to you and thanks for the advice so far, it’s appreciated as it is from others too @craig/ioana.

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      2. Edit to add; The reason I keep asking about catching train from iasi/nicolina is because thanks to Craig I found this

        http://www.triptkts.ro/ItinerariuTren.aspx?tren=185

        And as you can see the train arrives at iasi/nicolina (even better) and departs the latest being 04.16 am ……. and this would be ideal to go from there (if possible to buy ticket and board here)

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      3. Roger,
        taking the train from Iasi makes sense if you want to visit Iasi as well; otherwise the connection from Bucuresti is not so great; you’ll arrive in Iasi before midnight and wait there for few hours; the next train from Bucuresti arrives early morning, 2 hours after PRIETENIA leaves.
        If you want adventure and headaches, take the car from the border to Chisinau; I paid something like 80 euro; not worthy, but I was in a hurry. There are few cars usually waiting at the border – not real taxi-s. If you want to feel safer, try to get some other passengers together with you.
        Most people prefer the bus Bucuresti – Chisinau, it’s much faster, like 6 hours and much cheaper: around 100 RON / or 250 Moldovan LEI.
        I travel there quite often and I prefer the train because I can spend some time reading or doing nothing, which is a luxury for me; + I can sleep.
        If you have somebody waiting for you in Chisinau – great ! If you’ll be on your own, do not take a taxi from the train station; it’s 10 times worse than getting a taxi from Otopeni. Try to call a taxi from a reliable company. They will ask you where you are, what is your destination and they will inform you about the price in advance – add a tip and that’s all.
        please let me know if you want some suggestions about what to see, eat, drink and buy while there.

        Like

      4. Hi Ioana

        Well I found some more info out …… It looks like I might be able to get a train from Iasi to Ungheni and then from Ungheni to Chisinau …….. As Ungheni is in Moldova, right ?

        Or could I get a taxi to Ungheni, cross the border and then make my way to train station and catch a train?

        I’ll be on my own in Chisinau but the hotel I have spotted is a short walk from station and I’ll spend 2 maybe 3 nights in Chisinau as from what I can tell, there isn’t a massive amount to see?

        So basically if the information regarding taking a train from Ungheni is accurate I will do this ……….. If not, I’ll take the Prietenia from Iasi ….

        Oh and can you cross the border on foot, or do you have to be in a vehicle only?

        And if the train from iasi to Ungheni is correct …… I take it you cross the border and have your checks on the train itself?

        Thanks in advance.

        Like

      5. @Roger. There’s a nice Irish boozer in Chisinau and a great after hours pub called Taxi Blues. When I was there it was proper tit heaven!

        Like

      6. Roger,
        I’ve never seen anyone to cross the border simply walking; the border is river Prut and the bridges are quite long, as the shores are wide + specific vegetation.
        Railway bridge is through Ungheni only. There are 2 Ungheni: a small village in Romania and there is also Ungheni in Moldova, which is quite a big town. In Moldova the railways are 20 cm wider (as in all ex-Soviet Union) – and the process of changing the wheels of all wagons happens in Ungheni Moldova and it takes quite some time. They lift up every wagon, one by one, with a crane – in order to do this. The passport control and all the other checks happens in the train.
        Practically you sleep and some officers come in, turn on the light and you have to show them passport, bags, whatever stupid or funny it seems what they ask, do not joke, moldovan officers do not appreciate humor. A guy will come to ask you if you feel all right, simply say “yes, thank you” – he is so-called medical check. You can keep your bags right under your sofa, protected and safe and so can keep the door of the compartment open – the window is blocked and the fresh air is only coming from the windows of the train corridor.
        Buses and cars usually pass through a different point: Sculeni – is the closest to Iasi, 20 km or less.
        My advice is to take a train or a bus – drivers or taxis will try to rip you off and it’s no point 😦

        The most important landmark is the statue of Stefan cel Mare. If you care to see loads of beautiful very old pots, can spend 1 hour in the archeology museum http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cucuteni-Trypillian_culture. You might like to go to the Central Market (Piata Centrala) which is colorful and authentic, like a bazar, let;s say.
        Try to eat at and drink as much as you can, food is tasty; be it local dishes or more exotic, like in the Uzbek restaurant CARAVAN, etc.
        You might like to consider visiting a vineyard – Cricova or Purcari – they are both close to the city and impressive in terms of quantity of wine and galleries length – they hold world records.
        Chisinau is not prepared to welcome tourists 😦 but it’s wonderful if you have friends there.
        I think the best time to visit is mid October – the weather is pleasant and it’s all about the wine festival.

        Like

      7. @Ioana, hi!

        Thanks once again for that, your information is very valuable to me and the simply things I would never know, unless someone who has made the trip already, would have told me, so thanks for that.

        I am pretty sure I’ll catch the train at Iasi and go from there …… I take your note on the vineyards as Vin Fiert is a personal favourite of mine, so hope there will be plenty available 🙂

        I enjoy experiencing the culture and way of life so I will take in as much of the city as possible …….. Ok so maybe it’s not Paris or Rome in terms of architecture perhaps, but my aim is to visit every single capital city in Europe and being so close to Chisinau when I am in Iasi ……. It makes perfect sense to cross the border and spend some time there!

        Thanks Ioana or multumesc is maybe better 🙂

        Like

  10. Free wifi is a nice touch, but. With all the tourists, well some I am sure, there it’s an appealing spot to hack accounts from, in Romania. I’d suggest using a VPN service or using it as possible.

    Like

      1. I will never understand why people feel the need to access the internet whilst out in public. I mean it is primarily for viewing porn, at home yes? I never feel the need to choke my chicken outside in public and away from the comfort and safety of my lair.

        Like

      2. I’ve heard a rumour that some weird people actually use the Internet for things other than porn. Hard to believe, I know.

        Like

    1. Hotspot Shield (www.hotspotsheild.com) is an awesome easy to use VPN client. It works on PC, Mac, Android and iOS. Probably it’s best feature, besides securing your Internet connection, is that it’s fast unlike other VPN clients. Furthermore, sites that are normally blocked from or to Romania are now open. Good luck!

      Like

  11. I’ll always wonder why the CFR did away with the cardboard pieces that served as tickets back in the day??? I remember first visiting Romania in 2000 and realizing, “wow, this country really is poor if they don’t even have proper train tickets”. . .

    Like

      1. I still think Romania is a very poor country. In fact, most of Romania is full of peasants that have not existed in Western Europe since pre-WWII. I don’t know who actually runs Romania, but top on my list if I did would be trying to push 15 million odd villagers out of the 19th century and into 21st century Europe.

        Like

      2. @Davin

        Are you deliberately pretending to be naive and ill informed?

        On one hand you mocked people for choosing to live in apartments and not villas and now you’re claiming Romania is full of peasants and a very poor country.

        Make your mind up or are you just a persistent wind up merchant?

        Like

      3. @Davin

        So why do you continually mock Romania and the Romanians who frequent this forum?

        You may or may not have a basis for claiming you care about the culture more than most Romanians but someone in a position as yours can ‘afford’ too, pardon the pun.

        I agree in part that Romania has an awful lot of culture it could protect and promote but I doubt you’re alone in this thought process.

        I just continue to find your hypocrisy and lack of basic understanding of Romania and it’s people, when you live there or certainly spend more time there than I do!

        As for who runs the country, I imagine it is similar to the UK, in the sense elected politicians where sadly the majority are on a gravy train with no real desire to make a difference …….. and the there is the EUSSR to consider!

        Like

      4. The phrase thats comes to mind when I think of Davin (after f*ckwit, tight fisted c*nt, boring, etc…) is ‘Poverty Tourism’.
        His idea of ‘culture’ is keeping Lipscani a crumbling wreck, having cardboard tickets and shitting in a bucket, all so he can photograph it.

        Like

      5. For all of those with bad opinions about Romania see as well the good side

        Also, don`t even compare Romania with UK..we had and have different political regimes so it`s just stupid to compare them..We had Ceausescu you had the queen and so on…That`s it and it might change at some point..

        Like

      6. The fact is Roger, is that Nicolae and Elena and Iliescu and Basecu and Ponta all mock Romania and Romanians while I really do not. I am not responsible for the idiotic governance here. They are. My commentary is all a result of growing up in the West–which of course has many problems of its own–and wondering why such corrupt people are always in charge of Romania? In many ways, Romania deserves much better rulers than in America. Americans for the most part do not appreciate culture, good food or aesthetics. Most “thin” American women are 10 kilos heavier than your average Romanian woman for example. I mock those in control here in Romania for ruling it as a pseudo democracy.

        Like

      7. @Davin

        But I also grew up in the ‘west’ and have no such blinkered and naive views as yourself, so try another excuse, one which will wash.

        Like

      8. @Davin. Nah mate it aint Romania that is poor, it’s you pal! I mean, when did you last get a round in eh???

        Like

      9. Ok. So why wasn’t Lipscani developed in the 1990s or in the 2000s?! It took the city 20 years after the fall of Nicolae to redo a few streets?! I can’t comprehend the mentality here. So communism ends and yet Romanians wait 20 years to open bars in the historic Old Town??? That’s a really dismal capitalistic spirit. It shows just how far Ceausescu succeeded in oppressing people here.

        Like

      10. The reason Lipscani was not developed (numb nuts) during the good ol days of the 1990’s/2000’s is because Lipscani was waiting till the tacky Irish pub fad had completly died out before it could embark on the wall2wall of souless pubs and bars etc etc because that is what the people want…apparently.

        Like

    1. I have to say that I had not realized that for some people the material/ the type of paper the train tickets were made of was so important- maybe it is my fault for not paying attention to this kind of details- and that they were an indicator of a country’s level of poorness…
      Davin, could you tell me please, what are the characteristics/ qualities that a “proper” train ticket must possess in order for you to be content?

      Like

      1. @Prisoner Of Your Eyes

        Indeed my friend …….. Let me tell you that the British Train tickets are nearly half the size of Romanian tickets and a lesser quality of material much like our money!

        The fares are expensive beyond belief and we can’t operate in the snow or even the wrong type of leaves on the track!

        So on that basis (Or Davin’s theory) ………. Romania is head and shoulders above British Railways at any rate!

        Put that in your pipe Davin and smoke it 🙂

        Like

      2. @ Roger,
        I am only trying to understand Davin’s way of thinking.
        I do not mind the fact that he says negative things about Romania (as long as they are real and honest ). He is free to say whatever crosses his mind as long as it is within the boundaries set by the administrator of this page.

        What I do not understand is his condescending tone and… where does the deliberate unnecessary maliciousness that accompanies his comments come from? I mean…what does he “gain” from it? Is this attitude useful to him in any way? I wish I knew the answer.

        Like

      3. @PofYE

        Well if you’re Romanian that was explained as well as I could have put it and I agree. (and I hope that doesn’t sound condescending as it isn’t meant to be) 🙂

        What I find strange is his constant criticism and yet he doesn’t appear to have much rational thinking behind his arguments/sniping.

        Some of his views are bizarre and so naive. The one where he actual mocked people for not choosing to live in Bucharest Villa properties and live in apartments instead!

        I mean WTF is that guy smoking ????

        I’d live in a Villa in the UK if I could afford it !

        Like

      4. Thank you for your replying.
        Every time you have expressed your thoughts and opinions you did not sound condescending.
        On contrary, your personal views show maturity in reasoning and a grounded person who is very much in touch with reality. 🙂

        Like

  12. I’ll always remember when I first used to visit Maramures in 2002-2003, the Romanian border guards at the Hungarian/Romanian border would write down my passport number in huge binders they carried on the train with them that were like a half meter thick. Apparently, the border police was not digital yet.

    Like

    1. I haven’t said anything about this so far, but by now you really seem like you either:

      a) like to say the same thing over and over, only in different ways
      b) get off on telling people they’re poor or backward
      c) want to piss people off

      or, perhaps

      d) all of the above.

      Seriously, that’s how you seem.

      Like

      1. @Davin

        That statement is once again very naive and pretty insulting in some respects and I’d expect to find a headline like that in the Daily Mail here in the UK.

        As others suggest there is a history prior to the names you mentioned, read up on it.

        Furthermore, there may be a case to argue that the communist regime had a positive affect in part, on Romania/Romanians and their behavior or the way they are shaped today.

        Of course there are issues in relation to poverty but many countries have a divide between the rich and poor, so nothing unique about Romania there.

        As for the most insulting jibe by saying ‘backward’ …….. What exactly do you mean?

        The people, culture, infrastructure, politicians?

        Explaining what you mean would help as sweeping generalisations make you seem as though you’re on a wind up or naive at best.

        Like

      1. Oh, well, that’s just because there are fewer BMW M series and Mercedes AMGs around here as there once were a few years back. The SRI is still very much around though with their Securitate commanders. I ran into a few the other day on a back street. They were loading McMillan TAC 50 sniper rifles into the back of a van.

        Like

  13. Where do gypsies come from?

    Did you know that the gypsies across the world originated from India and worshiped Kali

    Many of the modern day gypsies can be traced back to the nomadic tribe called Roma. In Europe, they were referred to as the goddess-worshippers. This goddess was none other than Kali. They were later referred to as gypsy, as they believed that they came from Egypt before spreading to European countries.
    DNA research is also said to have established the European gypsies’ genes to Northern India. It is believed that the various invasions in India led to the exodus of this tribe in three waves which led to the spread of the tribe across Persia, Turkey, Greece, Europe, Spain, Russia, Finland, Egypt and Morocco.

    The gypsies prefer being called Romany. They have retained the Romany language, which finds its roots in Sanskrit.

    Since they travelled across continents, the tribe were looked upon with intrigue and suspicions. And many a myths, superstitions as well contribution has been attributed to them. While suspicions have led to wide scale persecution, the world also acknowledges their amazing contribution, especially to music and dance. From guitar to violins in places like Hungary, the flamenco dances in Spain and Oriental dances in Egypt is said to originate from them.

    They have inspired the works of various poets, composers and playwrights. Most notably, Shakespeare, whose Cleopatra and the dark lady in his sonnets are said to be modelled on the gypsy. They were often portrayed to be as fiery, intense, and unfaithful.

    The biggest contribution of the gypsy is said to be in occultism. Fortune telling, tarot card, shamanism, spells, talismans are attributed to the gypsies. It has given rise to a myth called the gypsy curse. The gypsy curse is said to be malevolent and fearsome. It often goes something like this – ‘May you wander over the face of the earth forever, never sleep twice in the same bed, never drink water twice from the same well and never cross the same river twice in a year.’

    It is said that the only way to counter it is to build a wall of protection by lying in a bath tub of water with salt in it till the four candles around the tub burn out. While others believe that a picture of St. Michael’s is all it takes to keep the gypsy curse at bay.

    Like

  14. 1. All countries have thieves
    2. Gypsies steal abroad
    3. THE gypsies CAME FROM romania bulgaria -CAME FROM INDIA
    4. just 10% OF ROMANIANS ARE Gypsies (NO 100%)
    5. Romanians are not gypsies!! NORMAL PEOPLE ONLY!

    YOU ARE RACIST!

    Like

      1. I find the gypsies are the No.1 biggest racists of all. Always out to fiddle anyone who isn’t a fellow gypo!

        Like

  15. Sorry to drag an old thread up but having just got back and traveled on the 1668 iasi – bucharest ‘night train’ I had to throw a few more ‘quirky’ instances for good measure.

    I LOVE the fact that when the train passes through a station; that often looks like it was last used in the 80’s, a Romanian train ‘official’ stands holding a signal stick like it is actually meaningful ! It’s just quite bizarre !

    The mechanic who wanders down the train at tecuci when the 12 min occurs, whacking the wheels with a big hammer as if he’s actually checking something important!

    The Police who wander the carriages pausing at me because I look ‘different’ and yet they seem reluctant to challenge me when the guard states ‘engleza’ as he points at my ticket!

    The guys who leave an assortment of ‘crap’ on your seat in the hope that when they return you will have bought something (I actually felt sorry for this guy so left 5 lei as a gesture anyway) I mean what would I need a comb or pack of felt tip pens for anyway ! I have a shaven head for starters, although I guess I could use the felt tips to create some hair 🙂

    The surge for the doors at every station as the smokers make the most of every opportunity, although I don’t mind the ones who use the toilet as ANYTHING to lessen the smell is a bonus, stale cigarette smoke or not!

    I could go on and on but all in all, if you want to sample Romanian quirky-ness, a trip on a train is an absolute must !

    🙂

    Like

    1. I just wanted to add to this in case anyone reads and can answer my query (not so important but maybe someone knows!)

      Why is it the so called 1st class carriages change so much from train to train?

      What I mean is, for example sometimes the train from ias to buc you can go 1st class and get a compartment in a carriage of 4 seats and sliding door so can usually have it too yourself and sleep etc……….

      OR

      You end up with an open carriage no real difference from 2nd class, lights on, noisy carriage and non room to sleep!

      Thanks in advance if anyone knows the answer !

      Like

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