Getting used to the tour’s rhythm includes, obviously, getting used to moving around. Not allowed on the company bus (or so Duncan tells me) so I go on my own or with other tour wives. I already described the first transfer and thought I’d do something hilarious to compare and contrast last week’s Malmo-Sofia, and this week’s Sofia-Bucharest, but I’m really tired. Here’s a boring version:
Malmo (Copenhagen)->Sofia: I was the only one checking-in without skis. Seems that’s the only sane reason to go in the winter, especially given recent weather. While the attendants were surly they couldn’t dampen the mood of the jolly Danes off on their ski holiday. Not even when we arrived and were informed that a LOT of luggage was Left Behind in Copenhagen. They said ‘forgot’, but during the flight there was a credible rumour going around that because the plane was so small, not all the luggage would fit.
Terminal 1 in Sofia is a tiny, old, crummy little terminal. Some luggage arrived there, first on one of two carousels, then on the second. Some poor airport staff were left to walk around informing people that some baggage remained in Copenhagen. I hopped on the shuttle bus to Terminal 2 (the nice, new airport) with some jolly Danes (already drinking) to report the lost luggage.
It’s a testament to how damn happy they are that even though they arrived for their ski holiday sans skis, they didn’t seem pissed in the slightest. While we all (I’d say at least 60) herded around the magic door in Terminal 2, awaiting the chance to report our missing bag(s), a good 5 or 6 grabbed more drinks at the adjacent bar. Talk about profitez-en-ing.
I managed to get a proper cab to the hotel (not the scammer taxis, which were numerous and clever), and, courtesy of a maniac driver, arrived in a vair nice, fancy old hotel in about 30 seconds. A beautiful old building in the middle of town, but unfortch, it has been smoked in heavily since it first opened and continues to host lots and lots of smokers and smoky events (or so it smelled). Combined with regular hotel dryness, I had super sexy whiskey voice by day 5. I also just realized my pajamas stink. Ew. God, the suffering never ends.
Once I got over myself, I sussed out some food AND IT WAS GOOD ZOMG. I had over a pound of salad + yogurt soup = happyhappyhappyhappy.
The moral of the story was that we could work our luggage situation better. We did. Now I don’t have checked baggage. Yay!
Sofia->Bucharest: This should have been easy breazy. A 45 minute flight. It’s not that it was hard, please don’t get me wrong. It was just long.
Another tour wife and I shared a cab out (to Terminal 2 yay!) in the snow. The fairly steady snow. Passing lots and lots and lots of cops and barricades, apparently prepping for the imminent arrival of Hillary Clinton (check the pic – that might be our cab! OK probably not, but you get the idea). A good time to skip town, before the apparent road closures that were set to start around 11am or something. Also of note, our smoky hotel was attached to the President’s offices (all part of the same massive complex).
It was apparently freezing rain in Bucharest, so by 9:10 or so, our equipment hadn’t left Bucharest to come get us for our 10:35 departure. It wasn’t so bad in the end – we boarded maybe 10:30ish? Then we sat on the tarmac. Something about de-icing. Then we sat there some more. And a while longer. Etc etc etc.
I’m somewhat inconsistent and unpredictable with flying. Today, I was pretty antsy. I don’t love wee planes, and I especially don’t love it when I can’t look at the ground or the horizon when it’s turbulent. I was antsy during take off and then convinced during our inital descent that we were plummeting nose-first to the ground. Rationally, I could tell that we had maybe a slight tip down in the front of the plane, but it still made me wild with fear ever so briefly, despite the various tricks I’ve learned/taught myself for staying calm on planes (for instance, the fact that the attendant was still cleaning up our free snack without a single glance towards the front of our flying coffin did nothing to calm me down).
Wonder of wonders, we survived and landed on what seemed to be the back 40 of the Bucharest airport. We then taxied, taxied, taxied, taxied over snowy tarmac while following a little yellow car (yellow cab? cop car?) with a sign on its roof that said ‘FOLLOW ME’. I wish I was kidding.
Typical bus to the terminal, et voila: no luggage drama since I had no luggage (well, one of us had one piece, but it was fine). We grabbed a cab, fought to have the meter turned on, still got overcharged but at least weren’t SHOT since he had a gun on his hip (so says one of the travelling companions; I actually missed it), and we’re here safe and sound.
The hotel is blissfully free of smoke. The surrounding area not quite as charming as old town Sofia – we’re out of the old centre of Bucharest, near convention stuff and residential stuff and, my epic grocery store trek revealed, plenty of the infamous stray dogs. There were also lots of high fences with security gates and garbage bins exploded everywhere (being devoured by dogs) and 5 cm of ice covered in 10 cm of snow. Not the best first impression, but I’m gonna give it a chance. Generous of me, right?
In sum: transfers, even short ones, can make for surprisingly long days.