A Day on The Road With Tony

Last Friday, 26th August I think. I awoke at 05:30, pack my small backpack and, with help from the quiet, friendly lady at the Danube Delta Hostel in Sulina, the easternmost point of Romania, I set off on another epic journey! First there was a ten-minute walk along the riverbank to a pontoon, to take the motorised canoe taxi-boat across to the other bank, where the main part of the town lies. This involved climbing up three or four concrete steps, then descending two or three, before stepping down into the motorised canoe whilst avoiding the gap between the riverbank and boat! Not an easy task if blind! Plus, the small craft was moving up and down like a trampoline! I place my cane on one of the wooden plank seats, and, with help from two strong pairs of arms, was helped/pulled into the boat. Once seated, it was merely a 40-second, rapid ride across to the other bank to clamber out again, with more of me wobbling my way out of the canoe and onto the riverbank. This was followed by stepping onto the moving pontoon, then ascending more steps, followed by immediately descending several others, before my companion and I were on the river path and heading to the seven am ferry back to Tulcea, the county town of the Danube River area. Once on board the slow ferry, after purchasing my ticket, I found a seat and relaxed, believing it would be another 4.5 hour to Tulcea. Unfortunately, the ferry arrived almost an hour early into Tulcea than I realised and, what with no announcements and the boats quiet engine, I didn’t realise we’d docked, until I heard the staff cleaning the ferry with a vacuum cleaner! Thus, I probably missed a train from Tulcea to Bucharest, Romania’s capital, where I was headed, with in tension to then take another train to Brasov. A very kind and friendly Romanian from Iasi, a university city in Romania’s northeast, helped me to the train station to enquire about the next departure to Bucharest. Unfortunately, the next train didn’t depart until 15:30, meaning I’d have over four hours to wait. The gentlemen then went and enquired the time of the next bus to Bucharest. One left at 12 pm, but all seats were taken. However, another bus departed at 14:00 and there were seats on that one. So I purchased a ticket and sat in the delightful Tulcea bus station to wait. There were charging points near comfy chairs and fee, high-speed internet, simple to connect and use – I was delighted! When returning from the toilet, a lady; a complete stranger, gave me a paper bag with two donuts inside – I couldn’t believe it. She didn’t say anything, just put it in my hand and walked off! Once the 14:00 bus arrived, a lovely female bus station staff member helped me aboard and I settled down for the 4.5 hour journey to Romania’s busy capital. Upon arrival in Bucharest, I asked one of the bus passengers to help me find a taxi. It was only a 10-minute walk from where the bus dropped me to Gara de Nord train Station, but what with the heat and my heavy pack, plus the chance I’d get lost, I took a taxi, paying slightly too much, as usual in Bucharest! At the train station I tried to find someone to help me locate the ticket office to buy a ticket to Brasov. I knew a train departed for Brasov at 19:42. Once I had my ticket, it was a case of finding the correct platform. This is not usually known in advance and the information is only shown on screens very closed to the departure time. I met a friendly local girl who showed me to a McDonalds near the platforms area. I grabbed some food and attempted to find someone who could tell me what platform I needed. Eventually, I found another friendly local and he walked me all the way to the train and helped me board and to my seat. People in Romania can be so kind and helpful. Settled in my seat, it was a quick, quiet, fast journey to Brasov. I simply asked another passenger when I felt we were approaching Brasov station and felt my braille watch to check the arrival time. Someone helped me off the train, down the vertical metal steps and onto the platform. They then guided me out of the station. I asked to be taken to a taxi, but when I showed the address of my accommodation, they said it was after 10 pm and would cost more. I asked the young lady who’d escorted me out the station if she knew where the number 4 bus stop was, and she kindly helped me find it. At this point, I met two young Romanian girls who’d recently arrived in Brasov. They offered to help find my hostel; Centrum House, in Brasov’s old town. We chatted away and they were extremely friendly and spoke good English. Our conversation continued after we’d alighted from the bus. However, one of the girls suddenly realised we were heading in the wrong direction! Back we went; laughing all the way into the centre of the old town. We finally arrived at the hostel in question, but now there was a problem. It was 23:00 and there was no way to enter the building. I’d reserved this hostel via a friend, who’d made my booking over the phone. I had no information on how to enter the building; a code was needed. There was a mobile number on the door, but when one of the girls phoned it, there was no reply. We all just looked at each other; what to do! Eventually, the manager or owner of the hostel phoned one of the girls back, gave her the code to enter the building and directions to my room, which was a little complicated! We had to ascend three lots of steps onto the first floor, then cross a terrace, enter a code at another door and try locate my room, which required another code! The next challenge was to tell me the WiFi name and password. The girls were so kind and patient, they were simply magnificent. It was nearly midnight by this point, but I’d arrived and got settled. Just another day in the life of Tony Giles, Tony the Traveller! Next stop, the small town of Sfantu Gheorghe (Saint George) in English. Cheers everyone, happy travels. |