But it almost didn't happen that way. And there was the odd moment of panic.
The drive to Sebeș was no problem. We had to go back to Sebeș to drop off the car rental that we have had for the past ten days. But, the car rental didn't have to be back until 5:00pm, so we wandered around town for a while.
There is an old wall that runs through the central area.
The sun is shining in some of these pictures, but it really couldn't decide what to do. One moment there would be sun, and the next there would be snow flurries. And there were some dark clouds to the north of us at Alba Iulia.
Originally built in the 12th century, it was destroyed during the Mongol invasion of 1241 and then rebuilt!
Too bad the interior was closed.
We walked down to the bus station and asked about the bus to Alba Iulia. The plan was to take Ruth and our bags up to the train station there, and then I would drive the 20 kms back to Sebeș, drop off the car, and take the bus by myself back to the train station.
Sure enough, the bus looked simple and it departed on the hour and every half hour.
We then went to the car rental place, explained to him that we would fill it up with fuel, and be back in an hour and a half or so. He said no problem, and that he was there until 5:00pm
Our train was scheduled to arrive Alba Iulia at 6:48pm, and depart at 6:53pm. Five minutes to get on the right platform and the right car!
We drove to the Alba Iulia train station, and by this time it was almost a blizzard. The temperature was around freezing, so the roads were just wet...but it was snowing pretty hard.
Not many people in the train station, so we had no problem finding Ruth a seat in the waiting area with our bags. At this point, it was 3:00pm, so still loads of time. I said goodbye, and planned on being back in an hour and a half at the most.
I drove back to the car rental place, and walked in the door. It was 3:20pm. The guy was gone! There was a woman there, but she spoke zero English. Using hand signals and google translate, I got the impression that he had gone to pick his kids up at school and would be back soon.
And so I waited.
It was almost 4:00pm when he showed up. He quickly glanced at the car, refunded my 900 lei ($297 CAD, $215 USD) cash deposit and I was on my way.
But now, I would miss the 4:00pm bus, and walked to the bus stop in the heavy wet snow.
And I waited. And I waited some more. 4:30pm came and went, and still no bus. There were three other guys waiting as well, and I overheard one of them mention Alba Iulia, so figured I was definitely at the right spot.
It was 4:50pm when the bus finally showed up.I paid my 5 lei ($1.65 CAD, $1.15 USD) ticket for the ride, and off we went. But because if the snow, traffic was at a crawl at some points. I figured by this time Ruth was starting to wonder where I was. But I had no way to contact her.
Finally, at about 5:30pm we arrived. There was Ruth, sitting with our bags right where I left her.
It turns out that the train station is a great place for the drunks and derelicts to hang out during bad weather. Ruth told me that she has a "friend".
Sure enough, the friend made his way over to us. He stunk, and you could smell his bad breath from a mile away. Disgusting. But Ruth is too nice to tell him to get lost. She had put up with him for a half an hour or more! And, you couldn't communicate with him anyhow. But it didn't take me long to get annoyed. Just at that point, a police officer came by and helped us out of the situation.
Quite a few whackos in the train station. It wasn't boring, that's for sure!
At 6:40pm, we started seeing people getting ready for the train. There were a couple of announcements, but we didn't understand any of it. The arrival and departure board showed our train, just as it should.
They were doing some major construction of the tracks at Alba Iulia, and they only had two platforms open. So that part was easy. We went and stood outside waiting for the train. Fortunately, it had stopped snowing by that point.
I had noticed on the schedule that another train was scheduled to pull in around the same time as ours, and it did. Then, another train pulled in going the same direction as we were going. An, it pulled in at exactly the same time that ours was supposed to.
But, it only had two passenger cars. Definitely not a long distance train.
The trains departed, and we were left standing there, a bit confused. There was now only one other couple on the platform, as the other people had got on one of those trains.
The numbers for our train disappeared off the board.
And we started to panic a bit. Were we supposed to get on that one train and it would attach more cars further up the line at the next city? That didn't make sense to me, but either did anything else.
I went back into the station and asked, but the girl didn't speak English. I showed her the ticket and she waved me back out to the platform. I got the impression that the train was late.
We waited another ten minutes or so, still unsure.
I went back inside the station, found someone who spoke a bit of English, and sure enough the train was 30 minutes late. Whew! We were starting to think we screwed up!
Sure enough, our train arrived eventually. We found the right car, showed the conductor our ticket and he led us to our private berth. Quite nice...we went into it with low expectations, so we were pleasantly surprised.
The beds were already made up, and he wished us a good night.
Hard to get a decent pic in small quarters!
Small, but definitely suitable. Everything clean, and even a care package in one of the cupboards...
Bottled water, toothbrushes, etc.
Only downside was that it was too hot, and we couldn't figure out how to turn it down. Instead, we opened the window and had some fresh air. It was quite comfortable at that point, although a bit noisier.
We used the iPhone as a hotspot for our laptops and had cellular internet the whole way.
Watched a movie, and then went to bed about 11:30pm
I dozed on and off, but I slept better than I thought I would. Ruth doesn't think she slept at all. Still, it was comfortable and we're glad we spent the extra money for the private berth.
Arrived in Iași about an hour late and the owner of the AirBnb was standing there with a sign with our names on it. He speaks no English, but his wife is actually an English teacher and we'll meet her later.
Now...we've got another car rental booked for our two days here, so that's the next step.
Everything is good!
And at Amazon.com...
And in Canada, a nice HP laptop with all the toys...I'm tempted to buy this one myself!