The Long Long drive from Sibiu to Ruse

Today is a transit day – no sightseeing unfortunately, we had a lot of ground to cover to get to Bulgaria within Nick’s (the driver) regulated driving hours – not sure I’ve mentioned much about Nick, but today it became apparent that he has been navigating all over Romania using a Tom Tom that seemed to be about a decade old. It turns out his mobile phone was broken so he didn’t have Google Maps and for the life of me I don’t know why Georgi wasn’t navigating for him, but we’ve had several wrong turns and many kilometres where we’ve retraced our steps. :/ Today was going to be one of *those* days but we were determined to make the most of it – well most of us were!

Our petulant Annoying American was sulking – like, literally, in the most unbecoming way considering she’s a 40 year old engineer contracted to the US Defence Dept. 😐 I had to snap this because I didn’t think people would believe me:

Yep, that’s her hiding under a blanket for a NEAR SEVEN HOUR DRIVE. To be honest, most of us were quite happy that she was moping; it meant she wasn’t trying to talk at us for the whole drive. Hurrah! I’ve never been on a tour with someone like this before – it’s bewildering.

The country side is beautiful as we wound our way through farmlands primarily of wheat and sunflowers, and my poor little fibro feet (while unhappy at me sitting on a bus for hours) were kinda glad to have a rest from the cobblestones for a day.

We had a quick and dodgy servo lunch, which I passed on – but insisted that Angus try the weird Eastern European petrol station hotdog. Maybe you just had to be there? But in Poland we thought they were odd… they have a bun, shove a hole in and tip sauces (into the bottom only) and stick a very thin hotdog in it. It’s kinda crunchy and not very filling… perhaps he should have opted for the double dog one.

We got to the Bulgarian border quite late in the afternoon and Ruse is barely 4 miles from the border.

Wouldn’t you know it? Nick got us lost again, and all of us thought it was hilarious – except AA. Of course. Eventually I gave Georgi my phone with the Google maps open and we made it to our hotel. 🙂 We didn’t have anything planned in Ruse for the evening so we just went into town and had a wander through the main square while hunting for a restaurant that could seat eleven of us – yes, I was trying to placate the AA monster, she’d been howling all the night before into the ether (ranting on WhatsApp) that people have been leaving her out of things and that she’d had to eat by herself, and when I tried to talk to her about this ostracism, she told me to leave her alone. I shit you not.

I suggest to Georgi that he find us a restaurant and that we eat as a group so Ms AA Emily doesn’t feel left out. He finds a place that say they’ll accomodate us in 15 mins so we go for a bit of a walk about to take in the town while we wait.

IT’s a pretty place with lots of empty buildings. Apparently over the last 30 years (well, pretty much since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Soviet thingy collapsing, people have been moving to Western Europe for better jobs etc. Bulgaria has lost half their previous population which no doubt is problematic for social services etc. Anyway – real estate is cheap if anyone is interested (inner city, 2br walk up from 20-30k Euro).

We went to dinner and unsurprisingly, they had two tables for us (this really needed this to be a whole group thing), and also unsurprisingly AA is nowhere to be found. She’d gotten tired of waiting and gone and ordered a salad somewhere else and sent someone to the table saying she’d be there shortly. Well, she did turn up and was the rudest, most embarrassing person I’d ever had the misfortune to dine with. She was rude to the waitress, insisting three times she wanted to be on her own check, but speaking to her like she was an idiot child. She sarcastically thanked us for ‘accomodating her and saving her a seat’, and also muttered something about being stuck at the ‘pleb’ table. Bitch please! The only reason I wasn’t sitting with the others was to make her feel more included. Seriously!

On a lighter note – dinner unexpectedly had a sushi menu, so I had me some sushi for the first time since I left Aust… very tasty indeed. This place lives on too much bread and pasta for my liking.

We have our meals and relax a little, I’m listening to AA saying horrible things about the perfectly lovely people we are travelling with and felt I had done the wrong thing in trying to ‘fix’ the situation – she’s irredeemable. After dinner, she wandered off to find some vodka lady (whatever that meant) and we found ourselves discussing what to do about her. For some reason I was under the impression that the other pax had spoken to Georgi about how frustrated they were with her disruptive, rude, inconsiderate and bullying presence but they had initially and on getting no response had gone up the chain from there.

I spotted Georgi across the square and thought we had best nip this in the bud, it was getting ridiculous. They all followed me over there and I told Georgi that I felt we have been trying, but every kind gesture over the last 48 hours was met with derision or passive aggression. He then told us that his bosses had three times already told him to ‘leave her in the middle of the road’ – and that’s a direct quote. I said ‘Why haven’t you removed her from the tour then?’ And he said, he has been a guide for many years and if he starts with ten he wants to finish with ten. Ummm… no, that’s not how this works. I told him in no uncertain terms that this wasn’t about him and right now it’s not about AA either – it’s about his duty of care to the other nine passengers on the trip and how he has allowed her to bully her first poor roommate, and waste the time and kill the morale of this entire group. This is the first travel many of us have been able to do since before the pandemic started and he was letting AA ruin it for all of us. I finished off by saying ‘Well it’s your choice Georgi, you can have one disgruntled and unhappy passenger or you can let her stay and you’ll have nine passengers complaining not just about her but about your handling of this matter.’

To say I was surprised to see her join us all at breakfast is an understatement… tbc.

Salina Turda and Hunedoara Castle

I’ve been to exactly one salt mine before (in Poland) and that was a fantastic visit. The underground caverns were huge and the place was set up to teach visitors about the history of salt mining in Europe and how prized it was as a commodity, as well as how it was actually extracted to the surface. This mine was somewhat different.

Salt was first extracted at Salina Turda since antiquity, and the mine continuously provided table salt from the Middle Ages (apparently first documented mentions of this salt mine date back to the 10th and 11th centuries) and was still in use in the early 20th century until 1932.

There are several different chambers open to the public the first of which are the two entrance tunnels – one ‘the OLD tunnel’ is about 700m long and accessed from a small car park and is called the Franz Josef Tunnel. The other is the cunningly named, NEW tunnel which is accessed from a larger newer car park and visitor facility and has only a 180m access tunnel. Yes, bet you can guess which one our hapless guide took us to. :/ To be fair though, he and the driver had never been here before, so I guess we were all pretty chuffed they found the place at all.

One of the main points of interest is the octagonal shaped, ‘Crivac’ room, which houses an enormous which called a ‘crivac’ or sometimes a ‘gepel’. It was pretty rudimentary machinery that was used to lift salt rocks to the surface – the one here presently was built in 1880-1881. This particularly machine is labeled as being the only one of its kind remaining in situ in a salt mine in Romania and possibly in all of Europe. .From the access tunnels, you traverse down some flights of steps to the Franz Joseph Gallery (I can’t see the words Franz Joseph ever written without hearing a thickly accented Austrian art gallery guide at the Kunsthistoiriches also mentioning the Empress Maria Terr-issa!) The steps are old and odd heights and not for the long of foot. This is a conical mine (bell mine). Salt mining in this type of room left behind underground halls of impressive dimensions: 90 metres (300 ft) height and 87 metres (285 ft) diameter. The depth from the mouth of the shafts to the base of the mine is 112 metres (367 ft). A “cascade of salt”, an underground lake, stalactites, and salt efflorescences complete the inert equilibrium of the giant bell. The underground lake is between 0.5 and 8 metres (1.6 and 26.2 ft) deep and occupies about 80 percent of the operating room hearth area. In the center of the lake there is an island formed from residual low-grade salt deposited until the late 19th C.

Now, it houses an odd amusement park having been refurbished to be a tourist centre in 2010 at a cost of $5.6M Euros.

The view from the Franz Joseph Gallery. At the far end you can see the 187 steps in 13 flights of stairs that are required to access the lower areas of the Rudolph mine.

Looking down at the paddle boats from the Gallery… weird. There is even a Ferris wheel down here, an art gallery, a cafe and a gift shop (of course!)Thankfully there is also a lift / elevator – if you do find the stairs difficult (and ffs when there is 187 of them, who doesn’t?) you can wait in line for the lift. The lift takes about 35 seconds to get from bottom to top and vice versa and fits only 7 people at a time, so during busy times you could have quite a wait. Thankfully for us, it wasn’t particularly busy this morning and the wait was barely two minutes. There is no mention on Trip Advisor or the website or any bloody google-able page as the existence of this lift… it’s kinda alluded to, but in a ‘you might be able to use it?’ kinda way. So it wasn’t until we got here that I discovered I’d actually be able to go in.

Worryingly… there is a disclaimer by the elevator saying that the management takes no responsibility if the lift stops working! It’s hard to get a feel for the vast size of this space. The enormous Rudolf Mine is 42 metres deep, 50 metres wide, and 80 metres long. It is the last place in the mine where salt was extracted in Turda. Rudolf mine is the last place where salt was mined in Turda.

On the northwestern ceiling, you can see enormous salt stalactites that are as much as 3m long… though you can’t get that from these photos at all.

Well worth a visit in my opinion and was certainly something different from the usual church tours we’ve been doing in each town.

After the salt mine it was back on the bus – to be sure tours like this involve plenty of bus trips, but I’m honestly not sure how many more bus trips I can spend in close proximity to the particularly odious Annoying American we have in this small group. Ten is a great group size to travel with, not too big, but when you’re on a small commuter bus, suddenly ten feels way too small and you can’t get away from each other. AA has this habit of listening to her music and singing along (no, she can not sing, but that isn’t what is so offensive, it’s just the disjointed noises of someone trying to sing along when they obviously don’t know the words that is so annoying). And when she’s not singing she’s watching comedy videos and laughing out loud at full voice… honestly this woman has no inside voice, no inner monologue and if I have to hear her saying “I need to go potty, Mr G?”, one more time, I’m going to go stark raving mad. She’s just so damn inconsiderate. At the salt mines, she just fucked off – didn’t tell anyone where she was going and when we were all ready to leave we were stood around like idiots wondering where the hell she was… several jokes about 10% attrition was considered industry norm were bandied about. But it turns out she whipped in and out of the mine super quick and the decided to go looking for local shops – without telling anyone and not replying to the WhatsApp group messages. 😐 Several of the young people on the tour had already had more than their fair share of her bullish behaviour and complaint emails have already been sent by several to the tour office to try and have her reprimanded or something as it seemed Georgi was none too keen to be confronting her. Me? I’m just biding my time until it’s my turn to write a letter – and we all know how those go. 🙂

Anyway, where was I? Back on the bus and off to Hunedoara to see the famous castle variously called Corvin’s Castle, Hunyadi Castle or Hunedoara Castle (I know not why). This castle is one of *the* largest castles in Europe. It is considered one of the ‘Seven Wonders of Romania’ – though apparently so are the salt mines, so two in one day is pretty good going.

It sure looks pretty – pretty fantastical that is. The castle was originally designed for this site in the mid-15thC and was partially built between 1440-1446. Building continued on it in 1458-1480 and then there was a huge building spurt on the place in the 17th century and even more done in the 19th century – the result of which is a hodge-podge of ‘architectural improvements’ rather than any determined or cohesive intent to keep building a 15thC castle. There were the obligatory dungeons complete with torture implements which were very easily accessible right at the front of the castle, being directly off the portcullis entrance tower. I don’t know what it is about seeing dummies in medieval castles that immediately sets your expectations for a less than informative visit. That and people dressed in medjieval clothing – which this place had (one guy in Rus pants, a 14thC men’s shirt, a 15th Burgundian pouch and a seax on his belt… should have nabbed his photo). Anyway, it was still fun even if I knew the entire place had burned down in 1876 and the current castle is effectively a fanciful recreation of some modern architect’s idea of what it should look like. Gothic-Renaissance castle bits ahoy…Turrets and gargoyles…

The Legend of the Well

It is said that the well was dug by three Turkish prisoners, to whom lvan of Hunedoara promised their freedom if they found water. Hoping to be free, the prisoners dug in rock for 15 years and at 28 meters deep they manage to find the precious water. In the mean time lvan of Hunedoara had died and his wife, Elisabeth Szilagyi decided not to respect her husband’s word, and instead decided to kill the three

prisoners. As a final wish the three Turks asked the permission to write on a piece of stone in the well an inseription

that said: “You may have water, but you have no soul”, as a reproach for a promise given but not kept. It’s lovely in here and I imagine it’d be great to hold events etc., but it is so bothersome looking around and knowing very little of it is original or even in keeping with the original plan for the castle. Now this looks like a perfectly SCA throne.

After wandering through the castle we all congregated near the long drawbridge, with was out timed collection point – only to find once more that fucking AA had fucked the fuck right off. No one knew where she had gone, where she was or when she’d be back. We stood around getting crosser by the moment knowing this would cut into our time in Sibiu tonight. When she eventually resurfaced, not even an apology just a ‘Oh I went for a walk down by that creek (the moat) and laid down and had a nap. I feel so much better after having my nap, you guys!’ Well, you can imagine the deadpan reception that declaration received and the guide, he just kinda stammered through a ‘Emily, you really shouldn’t wander off like that.’, and quickly shuffled us all onto the bus. Jesus – if that was me and that was my job I’d be giving her both barrels… as it was I pointedly said to her, ‘Thank you for keeping us all waiting, no one knew where you were – you could have been dead in a ditch.’ *mutter mutter*

Anyway, after visiting our fantasy castle we had another drive to Sibiu where we were staying for the night. Now in Sibiu we were supposed to be going to the Brukenthal Palace (which is a museum), the City Square , the Holy Trinity Cathedral, of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul Church – all of which were closed by the time we arrived… So we checked into our hotel and AA must have been wondering why no one messaged her to make a dinner plan with her, here. Cos OMG did the little turd have a massive dummy spit on the group chat! Wheedling, cajoling, then abusing everyone and attempting to gaslight everyone. Without coordinating anything and without being aware of what the others were doing – it turns out nearly everyone on the tour wrote complaints about her that night (and Georgi didn’t get off Scott free either – it’s his job to herd the cats and he most certainly was failing to herd that one!)

Sigisoara to Brasov

Up bright and early for a 0700 breakfast so we can leave the hotel at 0830. Several of the group don’t seem to get the memo though and we leave at 0915. It’s barely my third day with these people and I’m losing a little patience for how self absorbed a couple of them are.

We have a two hour drive to get to a little town called, Sigsioara. The town has about 28,000 people living here and it is a popular tourist stop for the well preserved old town, which is a UNESCO world heritage listed area. First stop was the 13th centrum Clock Tower which is now a small history museum. The Clock Tower is the most obvious town landmark being 64m high and quite pretty.

Dominican Monastery (below), which is closed to visitors – can’t say I blame them, they can be pretty damn intrusive.
The Sigsioara Citadel is also known for containing the house that Vlad Tepes was born in, known affectionately (and unsurprisingly) as Dracul’s House. It was too cheesy for words So I didn’t pop into there.

I did however take an opportunity to pop into the local ‘Medieval Armour Musuem’ a term which sadly must be used loosely because many of the objects on display in the Museum were quite late – 17th to 19th century swords and firearms. There were some cool breast plates though and some enormous muskets.

That pink thing on the left is my Beretta baseball cap… I can’t imagine any soldier carrying this thing about.

From Sigsioara we made our way to Targu Mures. Turns out that Targu Mures isn’t a partially popular tourist spot and the only reason it was on our itinerary was so we could learn about the religious tensions that were happening thirty years ago by showing us the Citadel of the town and the Culture Square which encompasses a Catholic Church, an the Ascension Cathedral, which is an Eastern Orthodox Church and the Quo Ante Jewish Synagogue.

We were all a bit confused about it – even our ‘expert’ guide, Gorgy who had never been there before. The driver, Nick got us lost, driving around in circles several times (we went past one statue three times) before dropping us off near a school so we could find the citadel on foot. Not at all impressed by that.

Then it turns out that the Catholic Church (below) and the synagogue are not open to the public anyway, so we only got to go into the Eastern Orthodox Church..

The Catholic Church is located inside the Citadel walls and apparently built their church to be larger than the Jewish synagogue… on purpose.
Which of course caused the Eastern Orthodox mob to build their cathedral even bigger again… quite something for a tiny little town of barely 28,000 people.
They call this the Ascension Cathedral, but it’s actually a church as it is under the purview of priest not a bishop. Construction started on it in 1925, and the frescos and murals were started in 1934. The gold iconostasis was completed in 1939, and then it turns out their plans were a little ambitious for this little town and they had to halt work on the frescoes when they ran out of money. Work eventually resumed they were apparently completed in 1986. The result is that some of the frescoes look 100 years old and are quite dark from age and incense smoke etc, and some look as bright as if they were done in the last few years.

Still, it is a very beautiful church and reminds me very much of orthodox churches I went into in Moscow and St Petersburg, and I’m glad one of the buildings on our stop in Targu Mures was open to the public. We had had a very rushed day today, what with one thing and another (getting lost, people ordering lunch and then their meals taking forever to arrive, and people just not listening to instructions and skiving off), so we were kinda glad to be having a 20 min break to take a moment to soak in the atmosphere here.

When the rest of the group joined us, we jogged off up the road to the Mayor’s house and to wait for Nick, the Boos Driver.
This is the Mayor’s residence, right next door to the Mayoral offices, and it seems the mayor who built it in the early 1900s was heavily into Italian/Latin architecture styles – which ends up in a weird mishmash of an Italian villa with a Romanian looking roof and decoration… I have no idea why Romulus and Remus are prominently out front – it’s a mystery?! And here we remained while we waited for The Annoying American on our tour to finally deign to meet up with the group. Yes, there’s three American’s on our tour, and two of them are delightful – thoughtful, engaging and considerate beautiful humans… and one horrifically entitled, self involved fucking clueless inconsiderate c&%t!!! This person had lost her sunglasses the night before – left them on a table at a Greek restaurant in Brasov, and had been whining all fucking day about not being able to get hold of them to find them for her, ‘My gawd, they’re like, $400 sunglasses, like they should at least be able to find them and like, send them to me in Bucharest.’ When she wasn’t complaining to us about her lost sunglasses, she was skiving away from group trying to find some ‘decent’ sunglasses to buy. So, we had been playing ‘Oh-FFS-Where’s-The-Annoying-American’ all day. Now we were all hurried up and getting ready to leave and she is nowhere to be found. Not answering messages on the WhatsApp group chat and eventually, she replies saying she’s buying sunnies and found ‘gold on special’ (WTF?) and will be there soon. So the ten of us stand around on the footpath outside the Mayor’s house cursing her and waiting for her to turn up.

She eventually shows up and she’s all smiles and happy is wearing her new sunnies “Yo-yo guys, Bul-garee in the house!” … took me a few moments to realise that somehow in this dinky little town she found a department store selling BVLGARI designer sunglasses. She was also showing around the ‘gold’ she’d found and turns out that was a dainty gold necklace with an Irish harp charm on it??? Urgh, we’ve been rolling our eyes about the unbelievable selfish and boastful nature of this woman for the last four days but everyone seems to have comfortably taken to quietly bitching about her behind her back and not addressing the problem.

Which of course meant I was the one confronting her about not being able to leave the group like that and keep us all waiting. Even the tour guide didn’t take her to task. This is the second time in three days that I left her standing agape looking like I’d slapped her.

Urgh… Annoying American finally acquired, so Gorgy called the bus driver and we head off to Cluj-Nepoca. When we get there – we find the Cluj-Nepoca’s Union Square in the middle of evening summer concerts of traditional music and not-so-traditional tunes being played on weird traditional instruments – very loudly! Thanks to Her Nibs being late, we weren’t able to check out some of the buildings around the square that were on the itinerary but we did manage to check out the cathedral very briefly because it was closing at 1900.

The square was full of locals out to enjoy the evening and the noise.The Matthias Corvinus sculpture – you know, the guide didn’t tell me who he was or why there was a statue to him and I didn’t bother supplementing that for a change by googling it myself (which is another recurring theme lately), so this is him, but fucked if I know what he did to be worthy of a huge sculpture in the town square.

Ok, I lied… Fresh to you from Wikipedia: was King of Hungary and Croatia from 1458 to 1490 and after conducting several (presumably successful) military campaigns, he was elected King of Bohemia in 1469, and adopted for himself the title, ‘Duke of Austria’ in 1487. There’s way more to the dude than that, like his lineage etc, but that’s the TL;DR.

St Mikhail’s Church is the second largest church in Transylvania (behind the Black Church from yesterday). The construction was begun in the St James Chapel (in the back of the church). The money to pay for this was largely collected from indulgence income apparently – man we should go back to the good old days of selling indulgences, only maybe the money could go to building housing for the homeless or something.

Anyway, the first documents relating to the building of the church date back to 1349. There are some fragmented frescoes in the church that make sense with that time period, but they’re pretty dilapidated, covered over and poorly kept. The construction was completed between 1442-1447 apparently, the original tower was built between 1511-1545, but the tower that can be seen now was erected in 1862.

Small evidence of poorly kept frescos… I don’t seem to have taken a photograph of the saints on the wall whose faces were all scratched off when the church was turned over to Lutheran hands in the 16thC.

By this time it is well on 1930 and we are hunting for dinner, along with every other resident of Cluj-Nepoca by the looks of it. We eventually found a restaurant with a vacant table and wouldn’t you know it a place called, ‘Toulouse’ in Romania doesn’t have French or Romania food, but burgers, pizza and pasta. Sigh… there was one oddity worthy of taking note of; in the back of the drinks menu was a cigarette menu and every table had a Dunhill ashtray on it. Yuk. Thankfully there was a decent breeze (blowing the right way for us) and we were able to while away an hour or so over some cheap ciders – $4 bottles of Strongbow.

We leave town to go the hotel about 2130 because of course the Annoying American is late again. We serve up yet another episode of the Blind Leading the Blind as our guide and driver got lost. Again. Seems Nick is using a decade old Tom Tom to navigate us around Romania and Gorgy can’t seem to read Waze properly but here we are in the back of the bus with Google Maps open trying to tell them the hotel is only 200m further up the street when Nick does a three point turn and goes back in the wrong direction only to discover they’re moving further away from the hotel and to do another three point turn and go back the way we were… ugh. We eventually pull up outside a restaurant and the Hotel sign can be seen in the back and I’m like, ‘Hello, according to the map, we need to go to the next driveway.’ Gorgy goes in to check things out, Nick meanwhile is unloading baggage, and when Gorgy comes back, he says ‘We need to go up to the next driveway.’ So we all carry/drag our bags up to the next driveway to get in the hotel.

Such a long day. It’s well and truly 22:30 by the time we got settled into our room and I had no energy to do this so, this was yesterday’s clusterfuck. I’ll get onto today’s clusterfucks in a few moments.

Transit – Lyon to Bucharest

Oh dear god, who planned this transit!

Got back to the hotel after the concert at 0130 having walked about two kms away from the stadium to try and get an Uber driver.  Not as easy as it should have been and there didn’t seem to be any regular spot or any recognisable system to try and get a taxi other than to be closest to where the taxis might enter the complex which of course kept creeping further and further away!  Not great network planning French Transport People.

Anyway – 0130 at the hotel, 0450 alarm set to make sure I’m all packed and downstairs by 0515, which of course meant I was wide awake by 0430 in anticipation of the alarm.  Sigh… it’s always the way.  Taxi turns up and ‘Out madam, non probleme.’ Off we whisk to the airport, only at some point his Waze tells him that there are blocked roads ahead and he tries twice to get around it before doing a complete 180 and heading back where we came from.  I’m overtired and rather cranky, but with it enough to know that I should check my seat belt when he starts barreling along a highway doing 140km to make up the lost time.  The fare which should have been 15-17mins, ends up being more like 25 and he wants €59 for getting lost. Twice!  I put in on the credit card, and he says ‘No tip?’ And I say, ‘Yeah right, you were lost and speeding and you want a tip?’  First bit of shitty customer service since we got to France.  Wanker.

After rushing to get to the airport for the 0530 requested check-in, I find myself in a queue of about 250 people being checked-in by TWO airline staff.  By the time I get to the top of the queue, I’m well and truly over being on my feet and my back is reminding me that we sat in Great Seats but seriously shitty chairs for several hours the night, so much so that the guy checking me in asks if I am okay… I tell him I am in great pain and he lets on that the flight is over-booked and he will try and move me to business class and I think my day is looking up because a little more space would be appreciated when I’m in in a lot of pain.  I then go rough security and customs and all that rigmarole, down to the boarding gate and it’s literally now 0710 and boarding has commenced.  Onto the plane we go, the lady at the gate gives me a new boarding pass for the business class seat and says, ‘No meal.’  I haven’t eaten but I don’t really care so I take my seat.  The business breakfast come out and look like carbs on carbs with a carbs motif anyway, so hard pass.  The economy section of the plane gets offered a selection of things to purchase (but I didn’t notice this until the connecting flight).

Arrive in Frankfurt – a little late. Urgh… stairs down onto the tarmac and a bus to get to the terminal.  My 50 minute layover now whittled down to 30 mins and suddenly it’s hurry up and get to the right gate again.  We arrived at Terminal 1, A Gates and I needed to be at B24, which turns out to be in an entirely different building, cleverly hidden by a 1.5-2km underground tunnel that isn’t really on the airport map. I make it to my flight and have a passing through for whether or not my luggage has made it, and settle in for the remaining 2.5hrs to Bucharest.  Make a vague attempt to sleep, get handed a bottle of water and for whatever reason – there is no food offerings on this flight.  It’s getting a little ridiculous at this point, the last thing I had to eat was at 2pm the previous day before the concert where we got too distracted to find dinner Saturday night and then it was too late to find anything.

So I turn up in Bucharest after an uneventful flight with an uncomfortably hard landing and lo and behold… no Luggage!  The little telltale Air Tag tells me it never left Frankfurt.  Fuckity, fuckity, fuck fuck!  I have a airport transfer booked and he’s getting antsy waiting for me in the arrivals hall and I’m trying to wait in the line of other people’s whose luggage was also lost and get an email saying – ‘We’ve located your luggage in Frankfurt’ like they’re fucking proud of their efforts or something.  So I click through a form on the website and lodge a request to have it sent to the hotel in Bucharest when it finally turns up, and go out to meet my cranky driver in a cranky mood myself.

Buckled in once again for another crazy drive with another crazy person at the helm but at the end of it there is Angus and hugs and a few hours of rest.  In the meantime, I get some emails from Lufthansa saying my bag had been booked on a later flight and would be arriving in Bucharest at 1800, and I’m thinking I don’t trust these bastards to get that suitcase to me by the morning.  So Angus spoke with our guide, Gorgi who said we should head to the airport to pick it up before we went for dinner.  Sounded like a good plan at the time.  The AirTag was telling me it was located in Bucharest Airport from 1815 as we head out there and you’d think this would be a ‘Here is my luggage tag in exchange for a suitcase’. kinda deal – but you’d be wrong!  There is no outside customer service desk for claiming lost luggage, just a courteous phone with a bunch of numbers for different airlines.  NONE of which were answering, not even when we tried customer service numbers for the airline in Germany or the offices located in Bucharest.  Which meant, we ended up loitering outside the border restricted area and literally jumping on every single employee who was swiping to go into the restricted area to send out some goddamn Lufthansa staff.  

There were four of us all waiting on luggage, two of us standing there with our iPhones showing them where out suitcases are on the AirTag apps.  EVENTUALLY – after roughly 45 minutes of haranguing staff – someone agreed to sign me in (with my passport) and let me locate my bag and get the fucking hell out of there.  Which took all of three minutes once I got someone’s attention.  You’d really think there would be some sort of, oh I don’t know, System (TM) in place for reconnecting people with their belongings when this happens, which I understand it does with alarming regularity. :/

It was quite 20:45 by the time we got out of the airport and were trying to find somewhere for dinner.  Georgi, bless his cotton socks was suggesting we get out of the bus in the middle of a busy section of town, walk about 1km to a food court in a shopping centre, when I shanghaied the entire group by encouraged them to go to a wee Italian trattoria which was about 100m from where the bus was parked.  We had a nice risotto and some truly dreadful house red wine before getting back to the hotel around 23:30 and collapsing in a heap!

And all this because I wanted to go to Rammstein.  Such a pain in the arse!  And I’d do it all again tomorrow if it meant going to see that concert!