Published: May 20th 2006April 27th 2006
Leaving Romania, sadly (haha- laboured point by now im sure) Joel, myself, and the pet that followed us to the train station (Farah from the hostel in Bucharest!) catch the train to Veliko Tarnova in Bulgaria. On the train we met Justin and Cris, two newlywed Americans, who are gong the same way and got booted out of their cabin further up the train. The pimp of a conductor tells us we need to pay the equivalent of 2 pounds as we're in a sleeper carriage without a reservation. Although we tell him we dont want a sleeper carriage he insists that we pay him, but, aware that backpackers get scammed all the time we are steadfast in our refusal to pay until we understand what we are paying for and why we must pay. Because of this he gets really, really angry, and the fact that he is decked out in sunglasses, open necked collar, dripping gold and smoking cigars fuels our suspiscions all the more. At the border we are forced to change compartments to one that is, say, less plush. We allagree that this is a result of offending the conductor, but hey we saved 2 pounds right?!
Justin and I
breakfasting at the naughty boy's table!
Also on the train we pick on Farah somewhat by continually calling her Farquar, much to her chargrin.
Arriving in Tarnova all five of us walk uphill for a few km's to the accomodation Joel, Farah and I have booked for ourselves, and which Justin and Cris are hoping to stay in also, Rosa's homestay. Rosa is dotty to say the least. Due to her husband being an artist the house is covered in art, as Joel found out when he woke up in the morning staring at a nude which he swears was Rosa in her younger years! We find the rest of the house to be similarly eclectic, with a glass doored shower room to the fur throw covered beds. Once we have dropped our bags and paid for the night we are ushered out of the front door walked up to a resteraunt and told by Rosa to eat, go for a few drinks and then come back whenever. Confused by the sudden turnaround everyone follows and we eat and drink in the Bacardi Bar and the Mosquito Bar til about 2am, having various fabulous random conversations with our new found friends whilst looking at the
Train to Istanbul
Look- the Muslim girl with the beer! (only kidding, its mine!)
stunning scenery of Tarnova by night and watching the spectacle of the Tarnova light show; a light display that it is put on only when enough tourists have paid to cover the electricity costs! When we were all partied out we went back to Rosa's to find our bags daubed in red and white tassles, some having more than others. In the morning we find out that these are to give the bearer good health and good luck, so both Joel and I find it infinitely funny that we have the least, yet are clearly the most unhealthy of the bunch. Justin, with 7 of the things, should be worried!
Cris is the first to wake up in the morning, and on going out of the room is told by Rosa "More sleep! More sleep!" and the rest of the morning continues this strange behaviour, with Justin and I being made to sit in the bedroom, like we had be sent to the naughty boys corner, to eat breakfast then are shown letters from the Waitrose magazine in England addressed to her before she shows us how to buy the train ticket to Istanbul by making a map out
various breakfast items. This being too much for me, I crumble into fits of laughter. After breakfast we go to see what Tarnova has to offer in the way of sightseeing and find the international train ticket office (between the cheese and the coffeepot, of course!) then head up to "The House of the Little Monkey" which is incredibly hard to find due mostly to the fact that the monkey we were looking for is more the little, its tiny. Basically its just a house like any other house except it has a very small monkey engraving aboue the door. As it was my idea to see this, everyone was duly annoyed with me. After wandering around the main streets of Tarnova and shopping for some food for the overnight train to Istanbul we made our way back to the train station with our bags and waited for the train which, like every other train in Eastern Europe, was late. To pass the time Farah and I went to spend the remaining Bulgarian money we had on beer, snacks, cigarettes and lighters. For a girl who doesnt smoke or drink I think she got the raw end of the deal personally, especially as the majority of it was her money!
On the train we drank our beer from empty bottles that we cut in half to fashion ourselves cups, played a lot of card games and generally made enough racket to annoy the rest of our carriage. At the Turkish border, everyone jumped off to get their passport stamped yet I, granted a touch inebriated, forgot to put my shoes on so I was running around barefoot and when the border guard asked my profession I told him I was a carebear. He seemed satisfied with this so, after he'd stamped my passport I bade him farewell with a handshake and hopped back on the train. four hours later the train moves and we are on our way. Somewhat hyper Joel and I revert to taking the piss out of Farquar and, with around 20 minutes of sleep in us, arrive in Istanbul (guess what the weather was like?) feeling like shit and spend the rest of the day recovering.