We had no trouble connecting with our KLM flight from Amsterdam to Bucharest and, while we got a bit of a late start, the 2 1/2 hour flight was no problem. In fact, we had in-flight entertainment by a group of guitar players called Manolo ; The Voice of the Gypsies. http://www.manolo-gypsies.com/. Manolo was seated right behind Jef and his guitar was buckled into the seat next to me. About half way thru the flight, the attendants announced that some of the group would like to play a couple of songs for us. Of course, everyone was videoing it (I'm having trouble attaching video but will keep trying later). They were on their way for a performance in Bucharest tonight. That was a nice diversion on a small plane with NO entertainment at all... no movies to watch.
Once we arrived in Bucharest, our careful pre-planning started going south. First, we wanted to get Romanian Lei from an ATM. I'd gone to the bank and given them the countries we'd be traveling to and the dates, I watched the teller enter it in the computer and I've never had trouble with this before. After waiting in the ATM line for half an hour, the card was rejected. Twice and then again at a different machine. ARGH!!. So we had to exchange dollars to get money we needed for the taxi to the hotel. Not what we'd planned to do with our cash.
Next step was to go to the yellow "request a taxi" machine and request our taxi. There was a long line at the 3 machines; 1 was out of order, then another went out of order and we were down to 1. At 3 people ahead of us, that one broke down. So...other options...
1) you can just go outside and grab a cab but apparently you're ripe for rip off doing that and no one was doing it
2) take the train to the main train station and catch a cab from there. This drops you around 20 minutes from the hotel.
3) take the city bus to the University Plaza and either walk (15 minutes they said) or catch a cab.
We decided to try option 2. We found the train ticket window but the next train wasn't going for an hour. She suggested we take the bus. Sigh. OK.
We got our bus tickets and found the right bus. It sat at the airport for almost half an hour before leaving. There wasn't a map on the bus to let us know how many stops to go for the Piatta Universitati but we thought maybe they'd announce it. After we got going, it became apparent that they were not announcing stops. So I asked a nice lady sitting across from us how we'd know when we got to the Plaza. She told us that it would be 2 stops after she got off. She also googled our hotel and showed us a map of how to get to it from the Plaza--walking distance she said...10-15 minutes.
We found the plaza exit with no problem. The problem was an error in judgement on proceeding from there. Walking distance, they all said. We only had a general idea of where we were going so we started out. After 10 minutes, I wasn't sure we were making progress so I stopped to ask an official-looking man in a police uniform. He didn't speak English and didn't recognize the hotel address. He gestured back the way we'd come so we hiked back a couple of blocks until we stopped and asked a couple on the street. Oh no, they told us, you want to be going back the way you just came...only 10 more minutes. So back we went, the same way AGAIN, past the official-looking man (who I think was a mall cop kinda guy). Anyway, eventually we found the hotel, up a street and no where near a 10-15 minute walk, but more like a 20-25 minute walk. PLUS it was hot and humid so I was melting.
We checked in, shortly after 3pm, and took a nap. After a couple of hours, we showered and decided to go find some dinner. The clerk at the desk suggested a place a "4-5 minute" walk. Actually, this time, it was closer than that, just around the corner..the Ossetia Romania. It was an italian restaurant; Jef had a pizza and I had the spaghetti carbonara. It was good and quite filling. We sat on the rooftop outside patio and about half way thru dinner, it started to rain very heavily. Thankfully we were under umbrellas so it just made things nice and cool.
And now, after this update, it's time for bed! Tomorrow we head out early on a tour to Transyvania's Castles!