Danube bike Tour – 4

And so we met the Pope…

Well, this might be a slight exaggeration but it’s my story so I can tell it how I like. But first of the trip to Bucharest.

More big Star Warzy beasts in the fields

We were up early to catch the train. And promptly sat on the platform for 2 hours waiting for it to leave. Not to self – extra hour in bed next time. The first stage of the journey was pretty uneventful but then the train stopped where we had to change. But they had forgotten to build a platform. So we just got out (have you ever tried to step down to ground level off a train with two fully laden bikes?) and walked across the tracks. Stations Romanian style.

Our train – just stopped at platform 6. Except there was no platform (which is in the foreground) so I guess we just stopped at 6!

Here’s the actual platform! look hard and you will see the efficiency of land use, namely wheat growing between the tracks!

We then had to haul our bikes onto the new train which barely stopped to let us on. it was even higher off the ground! And some 50 minutes of standing by the toilet later we pulled in to Bucharest Gara du Nord (no, it does not bear any resemblance to the Parisian station of similar name). Google guided us to the hostel – a shocking £12 a night for a family room with en-suite in a capital city – and with bags dropped we set off. Within minutes police started blocking off roads and helicopters started hovering overhead. Bank robbers I thought and secretly hoped (preferably Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight or maybe Keyser Soze – because if you’re gonna meet a villain it might as well be a good one!)

But no, along come the Pope in his Pope mobile. Well there’s a thing that doesn’t happen every day. The Pope. I have to confess I wasn’t expecting that.

Very poor shot of Pope in his Pope mobile

Pope met (ok so a touch disappointed he was waving at the crowd on the other side of the street but hey, it’s not every day you meet the Pope) we wandered on, only to bump into a slightly oversized palace built in the 1980’s by the then dictator Mr Ceausescu – who if you remember came to a slightly sticky end.In truth not surprising if that is what he was spending the country’s money on!

Mr C’s place and detail of the back door

After food (pretty revolting) we wandered a while before returning to slumber. A few snaps from the donder below.

mmm. Beginning to think my camera has tendencies to the less celubrious

Next morning we’re off again, like a couple of excited hobbits. Adventure 1 – work out the tube network so we could go check out the big market. We actually excelled in this task pretty well we thought and rewarded ourselves with a coffee, a pretzel and a sticky bun of non specific denomination.

The Subway

A train

The Pretzel bar

Then back to Mr C’s palace to see some modern art, something I rather like partaking of when in a city. I have to confess that the build quality of MrC’s palace leaves something to be desired and it is definitely more impressive at a distance. Some of the art was very pleasant though, I must say. Except for the video on male circumcision which I felt a tad unnecessary personally and made me a little wet of eye. From the roof you also get a pretty good view of the cityand a “slightly” monstrous church of some denomination. The only words I can think of are utterly outrageous (though apparently Mr C didn’t like churches and had many destroyed which could account for this rebellion in front of his house).

slightly Outrageous church(under construction) – compare the size of the building beside it!!!

We then saw another building that suggested why the quality of Mr C’s palace was not all it was cracked up to be.

Mmmm. So not solid sandstone or marble construction then. Cheeky!

We then dondered round a while longer for Bucharest is no village, walking home past a few more buildings and bits and pieces, before descending into ipad movie night watching the sublimely marvellous “the perks of being a wall flower”.

My favourite building – almost every window ledge complete with air con unit

OK, so it’s now second day here and think that’s enough of cities now. Remind me to ask someone who lives in the city what you actually when you live in a city one day. Fascinated to know. So J and I did a bit of people watching to see and as far as we can make out the major pastime is to spend money. Be it on food and drink, ice cream, toys, gadgets and clothes to make you look individual and cool to other city people, or on getting a ticket to visit attractions and events that are going on. There are a few folk that do jog or cycle around in the park but it does seem as though you still have to buy lots of items above to look cool and individual. P.S. I think we definitely looked individual but they may have thought we lived under a railway bridge or something!

But we did visit first a cemetery – I’ll hand that one to J – which in truth was, well, overgrown!!! Not quite what the guidebook impressed.

But then we headed to a park where they had rebuilt old houses and barns from yester year. It was actually fascinating. Old churches and water mills. Wooden buildings so well build no light gets through the gaps. It was actually a bit of a treasure find. So we wandered round then headed off round the lake before finding a little cafe that sold lentil soup and real lemonade. A fine end to the day.

Interesting detail on wooden church wall

Interior of 1800’s house

Oh, and we saw a man with a very funky electric bike

Man with funky electric bike

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