On arriving in Bucharest, we decided to stop for a beer at the bar in the train station to get our bearings and decide where we were going to stay that night. The nice girl at the Rolling Stone in Brasov had given us a handful of fliers for hostels in Bucharest, so we got out Susan’s phone and with the aid of our faithful companion Google Maps we checked their locations and tried to find the one that was nearest. We stayed there for a couple more beers as we were having some good craic, enjoying a nonsensical phone call with Joe and were enjoying taking the weight off our feet after our busy day exploring Transylvanian castles. After a while, the barman came over with a tray of two glasses of clear liquor – “For you! On the house! It is traditional Romanian drink!”. Oh god…
“Is it…is it PALINKA?”
We thanked him, wetting ourselves laughing that we actually managed to get some pinge on this years Pinge and Wang, and Jill downed hers (having developed a masochistic fondness for the stuff while in Budapest for the Palinka and Sausage Festival the previous year…although she does warn that drinking too much of it results in doing stupid things like eating a salad you find in a bag on the street) whilst Susan grimaced and tried to force hers down without being sick immediately afterwards. She managed eventually, after many protests of “No! NO! I can’t do it!” every time the glass got near her mouth and eventually Mandible had to turn up to finish it.
We’d decided on a hostel by this point, and wary of further pinge-based hospitality we headed off to try and find it. We got quite lost at one point, with all the little back streets looking quite identical (and Google Maps seeming quite unsure as to where we actually were) but eventually we found the Explorers Hostel (which was nice enough but nothing remarkable), dumped our stuff, had a quick freshen up and headed out with the objective to find somewhere to have some nice soup and a bottle of wine (oh yes – we know what we like!) and a couple of quiet drinks as we had a flight to catch the next day and didn’t want to be paggered. We’d spied (and smelled) a likely seeming, rustic looking little restaurant round the corner while looking for the hostel, where it looked like people were being served with massive soup tureens and after getting ourselves quite excited about the lovely smelling soup, we were gutted to find it was closed when we went back!
We didn’t fancy wandering right into town, so were happy to find a bar nearby that looked like it was still serving food. Alas! There was no soup, so we opted for a salad and some sides to share and on ordering we discovered there was nee bloody WINE either. Double fail! We had our dinner and a few G&Ts and then retired back to the hostel as we were cream crackered.
In the morning, Jill awoke to find that the lurgy that had struck Susan down in Odessa had finally caught up with her, she felt like absolute death and spent the best part of the morning throwing up/lying on the settee in the hostel common room groaning to herself while Susan sorted stuff out and got us checked in for our flights. Once packed up, we headed out in search of an internet cafe to print out boarding passes, a pharmacy for some flu drugs and a nice terrace in the sun to have a beer on before we went for the bus. Thankfully all objectives were achieved this time (although the terrace did appear to double as a casino/car showroom and we had to sit in the shadow of a landrover on a plinth) and once we were finally sat down drinking a beer and Jill’s tablets had started to kick in, we began to feel a bit sad that we were leaving Bucharest already (having not really experienced it in any depth) and would have been quite happy to spend the day drinking on sunny terraces.
The bus for the airport was quite late and we spent the entire journey squirming anxiously, worrying that we wouldn’t make the flight to Larnica but luck was on our side for once and we got there just in time.
Romania Overview: We really liked Romania and will definitely come back to Transylvania and to further explore the Northern parts – it’s such a beautiful place!
Best Food: The leftover forest mushroom pasta we demolished in the back of Valentine’s car was lush, but that may of been because we were stavvers.
Best Drink: NOT the pinge! Probably the nice cocktails in the karaoke bar.
Price: It was a bit expensive compared to the previous countries we’d visited this trip but still not too bad – a bit less than UK prices.