Overnight Train To Moldova

Brasov was actually straddled by the two days spent in Bucharest, but writing chronologically would have been obnoxious.  Just fast forward to the evening and you shall find me running through the main station towards my train. The metro wasn’t as frequent as expected, and also the connection times were far from logical.  I made the train, but only by a couple minutes.  I was welcomed by the well-furnished hallway.

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Sharing my booth was a Swiss-Italian Croat, who moved there with his family during the Balkan War.  For whatever reason talking with the guy was genuine and we both got on well.  I figure anyone going to Moldova would have to have some personality, and it turned out that we had booked accommodation at the same hostel.  This bit of fate meant that we would be spending the next few days together.  One of the other reasons for my frantic rush to the train was the stop I paid to a grocery store.  I paired marvelously a soft and slightly salty gouda with a slab of delicious rye.

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The reason I write this as a separate update is that as train trips go, it was quite unique.  First of all, during the initial ticket/passport check, the guy spent a good deal of time asking Branko about this and that, but one look at the american seal on the front put me in a sort of VIP club, so he passed it right back without even confirming my ticket.  Sub par shot of my bed and Branko.  (His name means ‘playground swing’ in Japanese…)

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The most interesting bit came at about 4am after we had gone through both immigration points.  The trains in Moldova use a narrower gauge than in Romania and the rest of Europe.  To solve this problem, the train was parked in two segments and then hoisted right off of the wheels.  Those were rolled away and then the smaller ones were brought under. The cars were lowered back down, reattached, and made ready to continue onward.  If you look closely, you can see the two rails.

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This whole process was completed while we were still aboard the carriage, and certainly for many people throughout their slumber.  I was exhausted of course, but to me this hour long vigil was not to be missed.  I don’t know how much longer these sorts of things will continue to exist in the world, they are after all terribly inefficient.  I was quite impressed with the throne, in that it was more than just a hole in the floor, and some effort was made to make it look acceptable.

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Once we were again on our way, it was back to sleep for just another couple hours before the banging on the couchette door welcomed us to our new world.

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