500,000 bottles of sparkling wine mature in this section of the underground cellars at Cricova Winery just north of Chisinau, Moldova. Photo taken December 3, 2016.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Chisinau, Republic of Moldova.

Where are they going next? Transnistria. The country that doesn't exist!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A moment of panic...

Well, it was an interesting 24 hours, just as I figured it might be! But, we are now here in the city of Iași (pop 316,000) at the far eastern edge of Romania. We are only about 25 kms (15 miles) from the border of The Republic of Moldova. And we are at our AirBnb guesthouse...just as planned.

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.

Sebes, Romania.

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!

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And at Amazon.com...


And in Canada, a nice HP laptop with all the toys...I'm tempted to buy this one myself!










40 comments:

  1. Forgot to mention on my previous post to expect delays. Glad you made it in the end.

    P.S. it's better to complain of to much heat than the lack of it :)

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    1. We weren't expecting punctuality actually and that is part of what through us off because that one train pulled up at the right time to ours but we were pretty sure it wasn't ours because of the fact that it only had the two passenger cars, and then the second one pulled up at the correct time then they both left. That's when we started to feel a little panicky.

      Yes, we would much rather have things to hot than too cold!

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  2. Glad everything worked out OK. Thought of you guys yesterday here in Key West. Found out a hostess at a restaurant was from Moldova and thought, "hmm, I know people traveling in that part of the world right now!"

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    1. We are happy it all worked out well too! :-)

      Too funny, that you would meet a girl that was from Moldova in a restaurant in the States just a couple of days before we entered that country. Especially because Moldova isn't very big or well known. Hope she was a good hostess. :-)

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  3. We've had some dramas like that with trains in the past including getting on the wrong ones, not being able to life my bike up on time and fearing the train was going to leave with one of us on board and the other on the platform. At least it makes for a good story afterwards.

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    1. We luckily haven't gotten on the wrong train but we have gotten on the wrong subway before and there were a couple of times where we thought we might get separated trying to get into a busy subway train but so far so good. I do remember many, many years ago when I was little and we were visiting my grandparents in England that they were putting our family on the train and saying good bye to us when the train started leaving the station with them on it. They had to go to the next station and then get off and go back to the original station. It was too funny!

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  4. Sounds like you're having a great trip. A little adventure is always interesting.

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    1. We are having a great time and yes, a little adventure is always fun!

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  5. Nothing like a little confusion to spice up your day.

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    1. Yep, even we admit to having a little panic attack! :-)

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  6. I am nervous just reading this post. Thank goodness everything worked out. A bit of a scare for sure.

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    1. Yep, there was a little bit of unnerving feeling there for a few minutes until we got it all sorted out then there was a real sense of relief!

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  7. Exciting trip, but you will certainly remember it:)

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    1. Yes, we most certainly will remember it!

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  8. Mama Natura stirs things up as usual. Glad all's well in the end...

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    1. We were so happy to realize that we in fact hadn't made a mistake and that the train was just late. :-)

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  9. And that's why they call it an adventure!

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    1. And we are all about adventure! ;-)

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  10. Once while traveling, sister was left on platform while brother in law was whist off on train. Sister had no idea where to get off until she got a call on her cell phone.

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    1. It is all good if you both have a cell phone! What would have happened if they had only one cell phone between the two?

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  11. Yikes, I would be a nervous wreck. I don't deal well with situations like this, but like yours they seem to work themselves out. Sounds like quite an adventure.

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    1. We started working out what we would do it we indeed had missed the train. Well, we would just have taken the later one! There is always a way out. :-)

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  12. Happy for you both that everything worked out OK with some panic moments. Glad you arrived safe and another great adventure awaits you! Love your posts so exciting to travel along with you both! Take care and enjoy your new destination!

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    1. We are happy that it all worked out as well! :-)

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  13. I would also be a nervous wreck. Once in Paris I got off at the right stop on the subway but my friend didn't. Fortunately, she got off at the next stop and came back to meet me.

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    1. I think it would be more frightening when you are with someone and you don't manage to get out at the same time. Back in the day there wasn't even cell phones to try and correct the problem at least now we have that but it is only good if you both have one! ;-)

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  14. Years ago after spending the day in London we purchased our tickets back to the countryside. Stood on the correct platform and hopped on to the train. Minutes later we discovered we were on the wrong train, we kinda freaked but jumped off at the next station and crossed to the other side. A train was there and we managed to make it back to the main terminal and back to the same platform seconds before the train pulled out.
    The trains always stress me out a bit as they are timed to the second and I never feel sure I am on the right one.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. There always seems to be a story! Glad that you were able to get back to were you needed to be at the right time. We are usually pretty good with trains but this taught us a lesson, it is always a good idea to ask even if you are pretty sure you are correct.

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  15. Train travel is stressful, but it also makes for a great story when all is said and done. Sorry to hear about Ruth's "friend". That can be far more worrisome than missing a train. Glad you're both safe and sound. PS - I'm so glad I'm not the only one that checks, double-checks and asks more questions as to almost become a nuisance, but I can't help myself. I need to know we've got our act together and our directions straight while travelling!!

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    1. I agree Dianne, it is import to ask questions even if you think you are correct because that could be the one time you're not right! We learnt our lesson and will always ask, just to double check.

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  16. Yikes. I can just imagine if I had left T.C. at the train station and not come back for a couple hours. As it was, I dropped her off at the Halifax VIA and took the car back, but it was just up the street. Nobody there either, but there was a key drop. That's the extent of our "spirit of adventure". At least you didn't find yourself on the wrong car, with no other means of getting to the correct car except to get off and run up the platform, but that's a whole other story.
    Glad it all worked out for you. Onward!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I have to admit, I was starting to wonder where he was, especially as my "friend" was starting to close in on me more!

      We don't like the key drop system much, what if they had a "big" question about a mark on the car. We tend to like to drop of the car personally to go over any questions that might arise. This has happened at least once before and no way were we at the cause of the issue and we wanted to make that perfectly clear!

      We are happy it all worked out as well. :-)

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  17. I almost had a heart attack just by reading about your adventures... Glad you enjoyed the train trip.

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    1. Well we almost had one when we thought we had goofed! Thankfully we hadn't :-)

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  18. Very cool! I love trains. Too bad we don't have passenger trains in Mexico anymore except for a couple of specialty lines like the Chepe.

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    1. We wish that Canada had a better rail system than it does!

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  19. Whew.....Im glad it all worked out. It can be so difficult when no one speaks any English, but one learns to find ways to communicate by waving arms or pointing or whatever it takes. We are trying to expand our Spanish because there is lots spoken across the southern US. I am excited to see Moldova from your camera. Safe travels

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    1. Sign language is a definitely plus!

      We are so happy that our Spanish had progressed as well as it has. We are even surprised with the amount of Romanian that we have learnt in such a short time. It is all worth the effort!

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  20. My, my quite the adventure. Reminds me of my backpacking trip in Croatia where I waited for a bus in the countryside and the bus did not show up when scheduled. Then one came but the driver had an argument with the lady waiting in front of me and drove off in a huff without letting any of us on board. In the end, I had to wait for 5 hours before finally getting a bus. (Lone Grey Squirrel)

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    1. Isn't travel fun! I remember once in Slovakia waiting for a bus that never came, we went back to our guesthouse and stayed another day because of that. The next day we went out even earlier and luckily the bus arrived. Some how or another we got the schedule mixed up. No worries though, we didn't really mind spending one more day there. :-)

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