Day 57 - Wednesday, July 20, 2011 - Calarasi to Constanta by Micro-Bus
Trip 140 kms Time 2:30
I got up at 6:00 and went down for b'fast at 6:30. Ordered tea, ham, cheese, eggs (easy over), toast and cucumber (it was choice #1). The eggs arrived sunny side up! B'fast was served out on the terrace with the mosquitoes and flies all buzzing about. I ate in a hurry. When I checked out I paid an extra 3.50 LEI for a beer from the mini-bar. I asked for directions to the train station. They were a bit vague. I loaded my panniers on my bike in the hotel lobby and proceeded to leave only to find that the marble ramp outside was beeing swabbed down by a cleaning lady. I had to carefully manoeuvre my fully loaded bike down the ramp as gently as possible. I was able to make it OK with the help of the cleaning lady hanging on to the rear of my bike rack.
The train station (Gare) wasn't to far off. I went into the main departure hall which was quite huge and had several ticket windows. There was no one about except a cleaning lady mopping the marble floor. I asked where to get a ticket for Constanta. She indicated towards wicket #3. I went over and eventually a lady showed up. The next train for Constanta was at 14:15. I decided to see if I could get on a bus as I didn't want to wait around for 6 hours.
I had seen an AUTOTOUR terminal just opposite the train station with a couple of buses in the parking bays. I went over and asked about a bus to Constanta. They suggested I try HORIZON (ORIZON) but couldn't tell me how to get there. I went over to the taxi stand and a taxi driver who spoke some English offered to show me the way for 8 LEI. We went about a block when he suddenly stopped, got out of his taxi and wanted to stuff my bike into the trunk. Of course it wouldn't go in with the panniers on. I had to convince him to let me take both rear panniers off first and then it would fit.
It was several kms to Orizon. The driver of the 15 passenger micro bus was a bit reluctant to take me and my bike to Constanta but in the end the taxi driver managed to convince him. We were able to load my bike in the back between the seats standing it on the handlebars and seat. I agreed to pay 2 fares i.e. 2 x 27 LEI for the 140 kms 2 hour trip to Constanta. We set off at 8:30. The bus was fully loaded including 2 standing passengers who got off about half way. The van was airconditioned and of course I had the seat at the very back under the A/C unit that leaked condensation on my right shoulder! It was especially bad when we went into a right curve or turn. I took the seat head rest cover off and covered my shoulder with it.
We arrived in Constanta at 10:40. The bus depot was "total grid lock". Buses of all sizes and description. I got my bags loaded on my bike and headed for the train station which was just around the corner. It was a fully functional station. Even had an information wicket. I was informed the next train to Bucharest was at 12:00 noon then another at 14:00 and it cost 53 LEI. I decided after coming this far that I should at least go and see the Black Sea.
As I was leaving the train station a very friendly taxi driver, who spoke English, approached me and asked about the strange thing on my helmet (rear view mirror). He gave me directions on how to get to the Sea. It was a few kms straight ahead on a busy main street. I found a restaurant by the sea side with a nice view of the Black Sea and the beach below. It was 11:30 and there were several people actually eating lunch and not just having drinks. I sat out on the terrace and ordered a nice pizza. I decided to find a hotel and spend the night in Constanta. I checked in to the Hotel Class a 3-star effort with Wi-Fi and A/C and b'fast for 200 LEI. I was able to get a room for 150 LEI without b'fast. I was also able to bring my bike into the hotel and secure it in a room next to the reception.
I took my bags up to my room on the 3rd floor using the elevator. I couldn't get the A/C to turn on. The receptionist sent a maid to my room who fist of all switched it to "heat" and waited until it cut out then switched it over to A/C. Who knew? Wi-Fi didn't work in the room so I went down to the lobby where I was able to get connected to the router but couldn't load any web sites in IE. After a couple re-boots including one for the router I gave up. By this time I needed a beer and there was no one in the bar downstairs to serve me. I asked the receiptionists where I could get a beer and she suggested CHAMPS just down the street where they also had free Wi-Fi.
I walked over to Champs and had a couple of draught beers while checking my e-mail and typing up Day 56 of my blog. Paid 13 LEI + 1 LEI tip for 2 large Carlsberg beers. I walked back to the hotel. It occured to me that the hotel network might be on Firefox and I remember having a similar problem back in Austria with IE and Firefox.
At 7:30 I went out to get something for dinner, some cash and some food for b'fast. I found a McDs and had dinner there. In the 1st grocery store I went into I was upset by the rudeness of the shopkeeper while I was choosing a couple of bananas. I just turned around and left. The 2nd shop was a little better but the cashier was kinda rude by throwing my change on the counter, etc.
When I got back to the hotel there was a party going on in the bar downstairs with a guy at the mic bellowing out Romanian tunes. The bar is down in the basement and I'm up on the 3rd floor so it's mostly just a dull thumping at the moment. While I was out shopping I noticed there were a lot of people walking about and in the various restaurants. There were also a lot of stray dogs. I counted 8 on the short 3 block walk back to the hotel. They are mostly passive but ....
The noise from the bar went on and on until well past midnight. It would come in waves getting progressively lounder then quitet again. By 10:00 my head was buzzing. I thought about complaining but somehow I knew it wouldn't do any good.
This blog was posted at the Hotel Andy in Bucharest, Romania, on Thursday, July 21, 2011