Sofia to Bucarest

Thursday 2nd November – Friday 3rd November

The platform at Sofia station from which my train was due to leave was lit only by the dingy light coming from the carriages. Onboard I was greeted by a big friendly sleeping car attendant. I had stumped up the few extra euros to pay for a bed in a three bunk compartment and to my delight it seemed I would have all three bunks to myself. My accommodation for the night was more deluxe than the previous night’s, coming with more kitsch features such as the fold out basin in the corner and a full length wardrobe. It was a real luxury to be able to hang out my clothes albeit for a few hours.

As I ate my dinner of Serbian bread and tomato paste accompanied with Bulgarian pickles from a jar, I tried to make some sense of my day. I think that the hassle at the station in the morning had set me off on a bad foot and then nothing else that I saw or experienced really cheered me up. A few hours in a place is not enough to form any valid opinion – I would need to stay much longer there to do so. Unfortunately, my experience is unlikely to inspire me to choose to go back to Bulgaria in a hurry when there are so many other places that I want to visit.

At around midnight the train reached the border. This time there were five different groups of officials who came into my cabin. One, quite young looking official just came in and stared at me for what seemed like an eternity before I said to him “I have nothing to declare” and then he went away apparently satisfied. I was left wondering what all these people will do when Romania and Bulgaria are both members of the E.U. and these borders become completely open.

I woke up half an hour before the train was due to arrive at Bucarest Gara de Nord. Outside the was nothing but blackness. There was not a light to be seen in the Romanian countryside. I dozed off for a bit and awoke with a jolt at the station. I couldn’t afford to miss my stop, much as I wanted to stay onboard to the train’s final destination: Moscow!