Days 13-14: Jess is a Wanderer had grand plans to leave Slovakia and enter seamlessly into Romania... the world had different ideas.
We left High Tatrus just after 10am. A quick stop in (what had absolutely become our favourite pastime) Lidl, we picked up some supplies for lunch and set sail for Bratislava. The plan being to head to the train station, pick up some tickets for a train to Brasov (in Romania), return the car, wait for the train, board the train and get out of here. The only catch was that actually getting from Bratislava to anywhere in Romania was actually quite the mission. With very few direct buses/trains at 'sensible' times (aka through the night so we didn't have to pay for accommodation).
The reality was that the train tickets were waaaaaaaay more expensive than we had anticipated but we were able to source some bus tickets for a mere €50. The only catch was that the bus didn't depart until 3am. We decided to return the hire car and then hang out at the airport - in the warmth with free wifi- until 1:30 when we would take an Uber to the Central Bus Station and carry on our journey.
What happened next?
Well... up until this point, everything had gone fine. I'd even managed to squeeze in a little sleep at the airport. Who'd have thought it possible! Once the Uber had dumped us at the bus station, we only had an hour to wait before the bus arrived. At 3:05 there was no sign of the bus so I called customer service to find that it was delayed by 40mins. Herumph but OK, it would be here before 4 and then we'd be able to sleep.
That was until it was now 3:35 and THERE WAS STILL NO BUS! We weren't worried, we'd seen other buses come and go, other companies going to various destinations so ours was going to be here soon. 3:40 where is our bus? 3:45 another call to customer service.
"Yes, your bus was there at 3:33, it picked up one passenger and left at 3:36" replied the chirpy man on the end of the phone.
With no time to panic, (or cry as seemed the go-to response) a split second decision was made to take an Uber back to the train station and purchase (the original) expensive tickets to Budapest and on to Brasov. We'd booked the Airbnb already and would end up losing more money if we didn't arrive in Brasov on the 14th. The next bus wouldn't get us in until the early hours of the 15th. What a pickle we were in!
a train to Budapest was leaving at 5:48, arriving at 8:35 and the train to Brasov was off at 9:10. Another silver lining, we managed to score the tickets at half the price as the day before - the luck of the gods - so the tickets worked out at €55 and the silly bus company agreed to refund us. That bus DEFINITELY did not turn up. Yes, we were tired and yes, we were cold but NO, we did not miss a giant coach pulling up in front of us at 3:30 in the morning! It was at this point that I have to confess (after a 2 month abdication), a packet of cigarettes was purchased and two were smoked. They shall remain in possession for ABSOLUTE FUTURE EMERGENCIES AND STRESSFUL SITUATIONS and nothing else!
Once aboard the train from Bratislava we realised that the train actually had cabins and our cabin was fully booked. Great. Cramped in a tiny box moving at 70mph with four people who couldn't look more disgusted about having to share with us at 6am... there was nothing to do but sleep for a short spell. By the time we made it to bed tonight, we'd have been in three countries, four train stations, two bus stations and used three currencies in less than 24 hours. All in the name of adventure, eh!
Someone was looking favourably upon us as the whole way to Brasov - the whole 14 hours - we had a whole cabin to ourselves. Six seats upon which to stretch out, lie down, sit up... whatever. It almost made the journey enjoyable. Almost! Day 14 wasn't so bad after all. It definitely would have been more enjoyable had we had some food with us. Or some water that wasn't carbonated (how do people drink that stuff!!). Or a cabin that didn't smell like old ladies. Or... I should really stop complaining as we were super lucky to have had the room to ourselves!
That's when my phone rang and it was the bank. Despite having used my card ONCE so far on this trip, turns out it's been cloned and someone in AMERICA is trying to use it for $11 in a restaurant... come on, what is going on in the world!! I will have to worry about this later, right now, my priority is getting to Brasov!
It had been 23 hours since we left the airport for the bus station when we finally crawled into our beds at the Airbnb. I'm not sure I've ever been more grateful for a bed!!! Roll on tomorrow's adventure for a trip to Dracula's castle.