We took a fifteen hour train ride from Budapest, Hungary to Bucharest, Romania where, instead of waiting forty minutes and then boarding another eighteen hour train on to Istanbul, we decided to stay for one night. Twenty-four hours isn't enough time to get to know a place but it is enough to learn a few things and observe a few others. On Bucharest:
• Tired dogs laying on the sidewalk. We walked past four in a row, all with full coats and looking sleepy eyed. Every block seemed to have at least one milling about.
• Walk right on through the construction site. You know, the one in the middle of a five street intersection. No signs, no cones, no fences... Your only responsibility is to not be a stupid human and fall in the ditches.
• Cheapest gluten free pasta we've ever seen - approximately $0.60USD - found not in the organic section of a nice market but rather the little bodega style supermarket near the aforementioned construction site. Organic milk: $1.37 USD. On the flip side, soy milk was more expensive than in the states and a small wheel of common brand Brie cheese was approximately 9USD.
• Littlest old ladies we've seen so far. With big black shoes on, for sturdiness we presume. They made Casey look tall. (Honestly.)
• Niceness - except for the woman in the international ticket office at the train station, naturally. Everyone else was incredibly sweet: the waiter at the cafe told us to come back and he would draw us a map to the good things in the city, the woman at the map museum charged us both as students even though we requested one regular ticket and one discounted...then waved us on with a further discount when we didn't have the coins, smiling the whole time.
• Speaking of coins: everyone really seemed to want exact change. Especially the lady at the train station who was cash only. She pointed us to the ATM across the hallway but then balked when all we had to pay with was a bill.
• Bucharest, the capital of Romania, holds the Guiness World Record for the largest public administration building: the palace of parliament. It is 282 feet high above ground and 302 feet below.
• A strange mix in westernization. We noticed a Dominoes and a KFC near the train station, but not much else...unless you count the random smattering of high end: Hugo Boss, Gucci, etc.
• That sidewalk you're on? There's a really good chance it will not exist at any moment. It'll sliver away until it's just the side of a building next to a street, it'll become a parking lot, or it will just dissolve into dirt.
• Language. How familiar a Latin based language seemed after spending time in Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Poland. Dare we say it almost seemed...easy?