After my amazing time in Iași, my tour continued with my next destination: Bucharest. Being so full of positive energy from the messages I received that morning, I walked to the hitchhiking spot in Iași.
Hitchwiki says that the best place to hitchhike towards Bucharest is next to the trainstation, which is like 5 minutes of walking from the city center. That was pretty weird for me, to go and hitchhike from the trainstation, but the site says it so, so I had to believe it.
I got to the trainstation and there were quite a lot of people hitchhiking. There was even a police car next to us but no one bothered, hahaha. The people hitchhiking were leaving fast, and other were appearing from thin air instead of the others. That bothered me a bit, but not too much because they were hitchhiking fro 20-30km not 400km like I was.
After I stayed there more than 45’ one policeman came to me and told me that I will probably not get a ride from there because of them and he suggested me to go to the outskirts of the city. Damn me and my brain! I thought of doing that, but I decided to follow other instructions.
Aaaanyway, after a 30 min. walk I arrived to a very good place to hitchhike. It was very good because the 2 main roads, one coming from the city and another one which surrounds the city, were merging right there and cars had lots of space to park and also time to see me from the distance.
I waited there 20 minutes or so and I got my first ride(out of a total of 3). It was already snowing a little bit and the guy was super nice. It was quite a blessing for me because it wasn’t too fun to wait next to the road in a small blizzard.
The second guy who picked me up told me that he could drive me all the way to Ploiești. Buzău was directly on my way to Bucharest but from Ploiești there are lots and lots of cars going to Bucharest. The only thing about Ploiești was the fact that it wasn’t on my way but I was supposed to make a detour. I wasn’t decided what to do but we were going to drive for at least 2 hours together so I had enough time to decide.
The whole trip was amazing! We had such deep and meaningful conversations that I was thinking of going anywhere with him. Honestly! It was one of the most eye-opening and mind-blowing debates I ever had with a driver(not that others weren’t interesting or fun).
Because we were getting close to the place where the roads were dividing and because the sun was about to set in half an hour, I decided to get out in Buzău instead of Ploiești, so I could hitchhike on daylight. I actually told the guy that I would’ve loved to go with him all the way, but I was afraid I won’t get any rides in Ploiești during the night. I thanked him a lot of times and went out of the car in a roundabout.
It was very windy and my backpack cover was all over the place so I stopped in a small gap, in front of the roundabout, where the guy dropped me off, to put back my cover and to check the surroundings in order to find a good place to hitchhike.
Well, I didn’t have to do much because after I put my backpack’s cover back and my backpack on my back, I saw a white van parked next to me which had Bucharest (letter “B”) license plates. The driver was setting up his GPS or something. That’s when I decided to try my luck and I just showed the guy my sign. He just looked at me for a split second and waved his hand, telling me to hop in. OMG!!! That was a second of waiting for a ride! Hahaha! Please don’t hate me!
This last guy who picked me up has my name, Bogdan. We laughed at the coincidence and started talking. And oh my… how many things I found out from him!
Firstly he is not from Bucharest, but from Transilvania! Cha-ching! Secondly, he is a hardcore traveler!! Cha-CHIIIING! Thirdly he told me how he organized several charitable projects in Africa and so on. And I will stop counting from here on because the list could go on forever, really!
This guy told me so many crazy stories about African countries, about dysfunctional governments, about bugs and diseases and whatnot! He is amazing! He even gave me his phone number to call him whenever I want to go to Barcelona, because he goes there every week. So, probably I will get a one week vacation very soon. Does anyone want to host me in Barcelona for a week? (I am serious!)
I arrived in Bucharest sometime around 7pm after a 6-7 hours trip. It was actually not that bad! I knew I had to cover quite a big distance in just one day and I left late, but I was lucky and got there safely.
From the place where Bogdan dropped me off I walked for almost one hour to the hotel I was hosted in, HelloHotels.
I was happy to find there a nice crew who welcomed me warmly and checked me in. My room was at the second floor and after I opened my door, my eyes opened as well and my jaw too. If you are looking for economy accommodation in Bucharest this is the place you’re looking for. The room is very interesting and it’s clear that it’s made for travelers. Besides the fact that is next to the train station, and not far from the center(I am used to walking!), it is practical. There is a wall made out of wood that divides the desk and entrance from the sleeping area. The thing is that the wall is see-through and had embedded in it the closet and the desk. I was really impressed by this design which made so much more available space in that room. As a traveler I felt really nice there, because the place was tidy and all, but it also made me think of a dorm or a hostel, but with full privacy and hotel benefits.
During my arrival day I just stayed inside and accommodated with the room, checked my messages and all. I also tried to make some plans for the following days(the weekend) but I only found out about a theater play(yupee!) on Saturday.
Next day, after I had my breakfast I just chilled and relaxed inside.
Oh, I almost forgot to tell you that during the night it snowed like hell! Yup, I brought with me all the snow in the world. I am sure a lot of people in Bucharest cursed me, but I don’t care It’s still winter, people!!!
Ok, so after I woke up to see 20cm of snow outside I just laid down in bed, wrote articles and surfed the net. I kinda’ needed that day to refill my batteries after traveling so much in such a short amount of time. And it was soooo good!
In the evening I went to Scrie despre tine, where Vera played her theater play. I say her theater play because she wrote a play based on her life in London and how she struggled as a street performer.
After the play I went and just hugged her! I was so impressed, touched and I empathized so much with her that I wanted to hug her so badly. I recommend you to check the place and see what’s going on there. For me it was really, really nice.
After the play I stayed a bit more and talked to the people there and found out more about their project and future plans. I had some laughs and ate an amazing dinner with chickpeas and baked veggies.
On Sunday I had lots of things to do, so the fact that I chilled the day before was a blessing.
First I met up with the guys from Bărboși – the Romanian community of bearded and mustached guys. Hehehe!
The guys found out about my trips and future projects and decided to interview me for their youtube channel. The whole conversation and coffee I had with them was hilarious and interesting. We went to a nice pub close to my hotel and set up the camera and light and just talked. They were very interested in my story and told me that they want to promote bearded guys who have something to say and who are an inspiration to others. OMG! I am so lucky that I have a beard because this way you can’t see me blushing
When that was over, I met with my beloved mentor on travel writing Ioana Budeanu. She helped me a lot by giving me her course, in Romanian, on how to become a travel writer, giving me tons of tips on marketing, facebook and all these things I refused to use and weren’t in my attention. She also wrote articles about me and she helped me find accommodations and make partnerships. She inspired me and motivated me to go get what’s mine and I did it!
With her I had a great time talking about our lives and future plans, about how things can go and how she envies me. Whaaat? Of course she’s meant it in a good way, but really? My mentor envies me? How is that even possible?
Next thing I did was a tour of Grand Hotel Continental. This is a massive, historical, hotel in the center of Bucharest. If you plan on having a luxury stay in our capital, go there. My words cannot fully describe the beauty and the majesty of the whole building and the feel it gives you. High ceilings, old authentic mirrors, handcrafted old wooden furniture. In a word: magical!
I visited a few rooms and one apartment and I didn’t want to leave the place. Hahaha! Like, really! It’s fantastic!
After I saw the rooms, hallways and the conference rooms(some of them gave me the feeling that some important decisions were made there – and they were in fact made there!) we went downstairs for a coffee and talk about the hotel and Bucharest.
In the bar I felt like I just teleported myself back in the 60’s or something, only that my outfit was wrong. Everything made me feel like I traveled back in time and it felt soooo good!
When the tour and coffee was over I met with a facebook friend for a drink and talk. She is also a very beautiful model, but I didn’t have the chance, or the camera, to shoot her. I still hope I will do that next time when I’m in Bucharest. But she had the chance to tell me that she wants to write an article about me for the magazine she’s writing for. Awesome!!!
Last thing I did for that day was to meet with another friend and finish the night, cos’ I was pretty tired and the next day I knew it will be full of stuff!
Monday was crazy! I knew that and I didn’t complain, in fact I was pumped up on adrenaline knowing how many thing will happen.
First thing in the morning I went to Dobro Show at Radio GoldFM. This show I listened for years when I was working and I just loved the guy. He is hilarious and very smart and the whole morning show was the great way to start my days. And now I was in front of him, in his morning show. Me! I was in awe for a lot of time! The show was exactly as I thought it will be: funny as hell! I laughed my ass off for 40 minutes and told him about my travels and future plans. He also promoted my event that I was going to have in the evening and I got a lot of attention thanks t him.
This was only possible thanks to an amazing friend, Căli, that I met back in 2007 at a concert in Sibiu. We kept in touch and in the meantime she has a great band, SpaceNeedle, and is an intern to that radio. She suggested that I should be invited and I was. So, thank you very much for this, Căli! I love you!!!
After the show was over I went back to the hotel where I met with the manager and we had a coffee and talked about what I did and all of this. She was very impressed by my story and she kept telling me how much she admires me for my courage and will power to do this. She was telling me how she likes my ideas and how she also has the same wild and free spirit. Imagine a hotel manager telling you this. It’s like…. I don’t even know how to describe it in words!
Than I went to the hotel next door to see the conference room where I was going to have the event in the evening. I wanted to get a bit used to the area and know what to expect.
At this time I had blood in my coffee, not coffee in my blood, and feeling ok. I knew that in less than an hour the TV crew from Antena1, a big national TV station, will come to pick me up in order to go and film an interview.
I was super excited by the idea but I wasn’t nervous at all, because the girl who made it was an old acquaintance from high school so I knew everything will be great. And it was! She made this great reportage which, after it was aired, brought me even more attention.
After that was over I had to go and have a talk with someone from Romania’s biggest photo-video equipment store. We talked about a possible partnership and the discussion went extremely well. I cannot say more, until the deal is sealed but I am confident that good things will come out of this!
When that was I had to LITERALLY run across all Bucharest in order to get to the hotel where I had my event, because a nice lady from Radio Romania Cultural, was waiting for me in order to interview me for their radio. O-M-G!
I was late about 20 minutes but she said that she didn’t mind and that she had to make the interview. WHAT?! I was extremely flattered by this and I couldn’t be happier.
After the interview was over I had a 20 minutes break until the event had to start so I had a bit of time to talk with a dear friend and schoolmate from high school.
Luckily for me, almost everyone in Bucharest is not punctual so we started the event half an hour later so everyone will be there.
The room was packed and there were around 50-60 people present and again they were curious and eager to find out as many details as possible.
After I told them all the information I had and answered all their questions they were still sitting and waiting for more. I told them that I will stay with them for as long as they wish and with a group of 8-10 people I stayed till 11PM and talked about all the things we could(keep in mind that the event started at 7PM).
When that was over too, I went to my room and fell asleep almost the minute I stepped inside. I was drained, but so, sooo happy that nothing mattered.
I had a very deep and regenerating sleep. I woke up with my batteries recharged and ready for a new adventure, Brașov.
Overall the Bucharest experience was not only fun and interesting but mind-changing. I met a lot of interesting and fun people that made me change my old oppinions about Bucharest. A lot of people asked and even demanded me to go back and I will definitely go!