Sunday, November 22, 2009


Bucharest day 0

Off to Bucharest today for a week of TCP/IP training - I know, sometimes sacrifices have to be made in the name of education.

Due to various train issues, the easiest route was to go into Reading and then catch a fast train to Paddington before a short Circle Line ride to Victoria where the Gatwick Express lives. That was three hours door-to-door already.

It's been a while since I've flown from Gatwick so the exits from the train platforms threw me. One said North terminal and the other South terminal - which one did I need? So I booted up my laptop and checked - after a few minutes, my trip confirmation was there in front of me telling me ... "Gatwick". So I climb the stairs and at the top is a list of airlines and which terminal you need. {sigh} I didn't need to worry in the first place.

Eventually I find the subterranean Aer Lingus check-in desk and am free to find some lunch. It's Christmastime, as everyone knows, so I decide a large gingerbread latte is just what I need. I'm 99.9% sure that there will be no free lunch on the plane so I add a panini to the tray.

Before heading off to the gate, I invest in a Rumanian phrase book - or is that Romanian now? I have managed to memorise one word so far - Bună! Sounds like food (bhuna) so easy to remember when you need to say "Hi!". "Please" and "Thankyou" - "Vă rog" and "Mulţumesc" respectively - will require a little more practice.

On the plane I have seat 21C – I didn't really want an aisle seat (although better than a middle seat, of course). I should have asked at check-in for a window seat so I could watch the world go past. As it is not a full plane, I move back to row 29 after take-off where I can have all three seats on the starboard side. You get used to the smell of the loos after a while...

The sun is catching the top of the clouds with pinky-orange highlights. Mainland Europe is passing below me and large rivers and towns can be seen through the broken cloud cover. It’s half three UK time and the sun is dipping towards the horizon so only the higher clouds are touched. Above the clouds there is a lovely clear blue sky with a bright crescent moon.

The plane approaches a weather front of dense cloud which seems to flow towards me like the output from a smoke machine at a concert. And soon the land and the sun, until recently just a reddish glow on the horizon, are both gone, leaving just white fluffiness and the moon.

And flying up with the jets, a rare Cloud Millipede!

After an uneventful flight (watching series 1 Heroes on my laptop) we are down on the ground again.

Deciding to live life to the max, I go for the bus. A 7 RON ticket is £1.50 - back home, I can't get from my house to Reading for that little! With a watchful eye on the buildings as they went by, I managed to work out when I had reached the Victory Square - a major landmark on the map I had printed off to navigate by. Next stop was Romania Square and time to hit the pavement. The Novotel was less than a mile away but after a while plodding down calea Victoriei, I was starting to worry that I was lost. Just as I was about to veer off the chosen path, the hotel appeared and I could rest easy.

Must get some photos of the streets around - nice mix of huge museums and ... sex shops.

Room service have delivered a 37 Club Sandwich - not confident enough to go outside for food at this time of the evening. And a Redd's beer too (from Transylvania, no less) - interesting taste, bit like cider. Wonder what they flavoured it with - the bottle label doesn't say.

Great view from the room window:

but, as a contrast, if you look down to the road below, you get to see part of the city's stray dog problem.

TV seems occupied with the elections - as you'd expect, interspersed with this delightful advert for Scottish whisky.

And now, before I go to bed, they're showing "Battlestar Galactica" with Romanian subtitles.


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