… so where was I?
I step a long half meter down to the platform – Ms Shittypants has waited til last to leave as well. We carefully avoid eye contact as we hit the concrete: thankfully she is quickly lost in the crowded station.
The station is tiny!
Pushing through the milling throng waiting to get on the train, I headed for the ticket and information office to find out about my connection – due in 35 minutes.
Luckily it’s seems quiet and no long queues.
The arrivals and departures are in Romanian – pfffft no dramas – Google Translate nails it but I can’t see my train listed.
IR263 from Oradea to Cluj-napoca.
Nothing even close.
So what about the clicketty clack board showing the next 4 arrivals/departures?
Not a sausage.
Where’s my connection?
I line up at the Information window and wait my turn quietly (Romanians are the best at queues, like Canberrans only better).
Finally I get to the window and slap my ticket up against the glass.
“Salut !” says I merrily, with the now patented dumb tourist smile. “which platform is IR 263 to Cluj please?”
The lady damn well eyerolls me!
She looks at the ticket, looks at the train about to leave (the one I just got off) looks at me and says “that one – platform 1 – you have 1 minute!- GO!”
“Merseeeeeeeeeee…” I call as I run out the door into the platform and can feel her second eyeroll penetrate my back like a bullet.
I sprint to the train as the doors close but my tiny brain monkey 🐒 “ooks” at me…
“Oook! Hold on a tick…”
I stop and run up to the poorly uniformed unshaven guard at the door, already knowing that he speaks no English. I show him my ticket and point to the train just about to leave.
“Da? Nu?” I ask.
He shakes his head “nu” and I run back inside to the ticket counter.
“The guard says no” I tell the lady.
She eyerolls me a third time and jabs a inch long bright red fingernail at the train on platform 1.
“Why do you mean he said no. THAT one!” and stabs a finger again to the train I just got off.
Her drawn on eyebrows almost pop off her head, she raises them so high.
“FUCK! / oook! ” say my brains in unison.
I run out and punch the green open door button on the train door and move up towards first class, back to where my seat was.
There’s a new lady sitting there now, but someone well dressed and under 40 so English hopefully!!! I smile dumbly and show her my ticket.
She says kindly, as if speaking to a child “let me see…No, not this one…”,
“I should get off?”
“Yes you need to get off”
A whistle blows from the platform.
“Merseeeeeeeeeee!!!” I call over my shoulder while running at the door, punching the green button and jumping off just as the train starts to move.
*Bet she eye rolled me, just quietly.
Now alone on the platform, I take a long breath and blow it out like the steam train I wish I was on.
“Whew that was lucky!”
Now what? Do I book another ticket? Is there another train?
The train pulls away, and I wander inside just as a clackitty clack starts clackitty clackiting just above my head and I glance up.
The sign changes slowly, like a spinning wheel on a old fashioned poker machine, but instead of fruit or cards it is spinning letters and numbers.
Sure enough… one character at a time, IR363 : 17.55 clicketty clacks into view on the board. Platform 3 in 20 minutes.
Time for a quick wee, so I wander up and pay 1 leu for the privilege of a 10 second wee in Oradea, then buy a Romanian knockoff Cornetto for 3.5 leu and find a spot on a square wooden planter to sit quietly and contemplate the next leg of the journey.
Quite interesting so far! I should take trains more often!
Munch munch munch on my fake Cornetto.
I notice an odd smell; sniff at my armpit and shirt, then discretely scratch my ass to check if I’ve somehow shat myself.
Nope, not today!
What’s that sm….
<something in Romanian Romanian Romanian> mumbles a voice in my ear, and I turn to see the filthiest man I’ve seen in quite a while carefully place a steaming dirty paper cup on the bench behind me and move to take a seat next to me.
In my head I hear the buzzing of many flies.
He smiles through a mask of grime and tries to strike up a conversation, but it’s no use – I’m tired and hot, but even sign language won’t save this chat as the smell is overpowering, like a dead cat dipped in dogshit and left in a plastic bag for a week.
I apologise and wish him good evening in my bad Romanian ( buno siéra is as close as I get), shook his hand (wish I hadn’t) and headed for the platform just as my train pulls in.
I check my carriage number against the hand written sign stuck to the train window; a lovely lady in a white dress and floppy wide brimmed hat, dragging a zebra suitcase and looking like a Parisian cafe dweller punches the door button and struggles with her bag – I help her up the half metre step up … (of course I do 😉 – I’m a gentleman)
She turns left and vanishes to the posh end of the train and I head right for cattle class and an unexpected surprise…
The train is lovely!
A second class ticket gets me a window seat and working aircon, the carriage is virtually empty and the group across from me are deaf so it’s practically silent except for the gentle slapping of hands as they sign to each other.
It’s also cooler as we climb into the mountains, just now following the course of a large river. It’s absolutely beautiful out my window, but nearly 9pm : a total shame it’s getting dark just at the best part of the journey.
The remainder of the train journey was lovely – darkness whipping by outside my window, cool aircon, quiet cabin, and that gentle regular clicketty clack, clicketty clack that puts you to sleep putting me to sleep 💤.
I recharged my phone and didn’t make eye contact or mime with anyone.
So what next? 10 minutes from Cluj, Then a short half hour walk to my Airbnb in the Old City ( yeees I’m treating myself) where my host is waiting to let me in, and I’m going to sleep in a comfy bed and not a hostel for a few nights.
What could possibly go wrong?
As it turns out, nothing! My new digs are slap bang in the middle of the Old City, and it’s a quick 25 minute walk from the train station last some of the most beautiful churches and cathedrals and statues I’ve seen yet.
The apartment is super small – almost like a tiny house but it’s perfect : quiet, comfy and just enough room for one.
The host meets me at the door, hands me a key and buggers off, so that’s it!
I’m out for the night, 12am.
Exploring Cluj tomorrow!
** yes I know my tense is all fucked up. I’ll edit it later. I’m tired.