Continuing the recap of my 2017 Balkan holiday…….
Train to Romania?
You will remember from my previous post that we had arrived at Belgrade Dunav Train Station to a hand-scrawled notice saying “No Trains Romania” with zero assistance on offer to ease our predicament. So would we make it to Romania after all?
In true ‘sod it, there will be a way’ style to which Hamish & I subscribe to anywhere outside Western Europe & North America, we bought our tickets to Vrsac on the Serbian-Romanian border.
We boarded our shiny new electric train and were soon heading north-east for the ninety-minute journey.
The train was full of locals going about their normal business, made up entirely of students & pensioners heading out of the capital back to their towns & villages. I asked one of the younger travellers if she knew how we could get to Timisoara. Neither she or her friends could help unfortunately.
As well as the train debacle, I had also had to contend with my first ever Airbnb issue. The owner of the flat we had booked had suddenly become incommunicado, until at the last minute he texted back bleating about water leaks & related damage.
Suspiciously he asked me to cancel on Airbnb’s website for a full refund. I however smelt a rat and the website terms & conditions confirmed that if I cancelled at short notice, all payments would be forfeit.
I sent Airbnb a photo of his text and eventually secured not only a full refund but compensation too. Nice people at Airbnb!
I managed to book a very good replacement, so at least that potential drama had been negated.
We didn’t seem so lucky once we arrived in Vrsac. There were no taxis, no buses, we were 3km from the centre and our second unhelpful Serb rail lady of the day did not know how to phone us a taxi!
We went outside hoping that something would come up. We clearly looked like lost sheep as a chap approached us to ask what we were doing.
As luck would have it he had a taxi driver friend who agreed to take us to Romania for €50. We saw our saviour leave and waited patiently.
Quicker than expected our taxi arrived. He confirmed he could take us for €50, but we did find it a little strange when he phoned his mum to fish out his passport, which he would collect on the way.
When a second taxi turned up it dawned on us what has happened. We were in the wrong taxi!
The younger driver acceded to the elder’s curt demand that he hand over his rightful lucrative fare.
He snatched our bags out of the boot and stuck them in his, just in case there was any disagreement.
I felt sorry for our clearly disappointed driver. He had lost a decent earner and who knows maybe a good time in Timisoara.
I handed him my last Serbian currency (about €3 worth) and he at least managed half a smile in return.
Thankfully The Dark Blue Car Was Our Taxi!
We were on our way at last. The jolly border guard called me William Shakespeare before welcoming us to Romania. We passed the car boot inspection and were on our way in minutes.
It wasn’t so easy for the Eastern European lorry drivers. The queue at the border of the EU was at least three miles long as every truck was meticulously inspected by the Romanian authorities. This could well be the same in Dover & Calais post BREXIT. Yuk!
What compels anybody to be a lorry driver is beyond me, but I guess they feel the same abhorrence when thinking about office work.
After 45-minutes we were pulling up in a leafy suburb, 15-minutes walk from the centre of the delightful city of Timișoara…….
Travelling By Train Across The Balkans
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