Sofia, Bulgaria to Bucharest

Can I see your reservation?

September 7, 2005

Got a good night's sleep and woke up to catch the next train from Sofia, Bulgaria to Bucharest. As we watched the world pass by our car window we noticed a disconcerning sight-dew on the grass. We both thought we might have wanted Dena to bring some warmer clothes then we did, but hoped it would burn off after a bit and nice fall days were around the corner. Once we got into Sofia we got off our first train and waited to board the train on to Bucharest. As we stood on the platform a man approached us asking if we had our reservations? We weren't aware if we needed any formal reservations for this next leg of the trip but Craig went downstairs with him and when his gut told him it was a scam he promptly walked away. There was another backpacker from New Zealand waiting for the train as well so we asked him about this reservation thing and he said he wasn't sure but it sounded sketchy. We ended up getting a car with him and for most of the ride through Bulgaria we read our books and watched the beautiful mountain scenery pass us by. Bulgaria seemed to have some really lovely areas and it was quite a nice train ride through the central and northern part of the country. As we got closer to the Romania border random men would enter our car and as us again for reservations. We had read this was a common scheme so we just shook our head and played dumb and they eventually gave up. The border crossing was uneventful but as we pulled away from the border town another man in a somewhat official uniform approached us again for reservations. We explained that we had purchased our tickets in Greece and didn't need to pay him for additional reservations. He grabbed a local Romanian kid to communicate with us. The kid told us we had to pay a reservation fee and that this "officer" was charging him too and he didn't know why. We weren't buying it and the officer and kid walked off. 10 minutes later they came back and we stood our ground and said we'd need a receipt if we had to pay for this reservation fee. The kid said it would be 10 Euro for a receipt and 5 Euro without one. The game was on. We declined his generous offer and he said if we didn't pay we would need to stand by the window of the hallway for the rest of the ride. We accepted as we had been sitting down for about 2 days straight. The officer walked away, lit his Pall Mall and grunted in disgust. Craig and I stood for a little while and got our legs loosened up and before we new it we had arrived in Bucharest. We are learning this game one match at a time.

Once we arrived in Bucharest we got on the bus our hostel advised us to take and the driver was nice to let us stand next to him to make sure we got to the stop we needed. The driver dropped us off and luckily a guy who was staying at our hostel happened to walk by and escourted us to the hostel so we didn't have to worry if we were going the right away. Upon our arrival the hostel owners were so friendly and easy going we felt great about choosing this hostel to stay at. If anyone out there needs a friendly, safe, affordable, clean and overall great place to stay we recommend The Butterfly Villa 100%! Here is their website:
Alis and Henri will take care of you!

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