29 August. After map study and assessment of the legs situation we took the train to Bucharest. Before we left we paid a brief visit to the Curtea de Arges monastery and its chapel – a popular destination on Sunday mornings. There was an orthodox service in progress with an excellent choir singing the responses.

Monastery chapel at Curtea de Arges

Curtea de Arges has a grand station and the train was the same kind as the one to Sibiu with plenty of bike space. An interesting situation developed when the conductor told us to get tickets for the bikes. She took Ian into the ticket counter where they told Ian that bicycle tickets were not needed, but Ms Conductor then grabbed him by the arm and marched him to the train. She could see an opportunity that she wasn’t going to miss, and once the train was moving, she moved in on us and charged 22 lei for the bikes. No ticket offered, money into top pocket. She is a go ahead type.

It was a good decision to cover this distance by train as it is flat and not especially inspiring, through poor farming land and villages, abandoned factories and unappealing towns.

Bucharest, city of mixed reputation, has turned out to be better than expected. We were not robbed of all our belongings at the apparently notorious Gara de Nord, the traffic was not horrendous, we cycled everywhere, and the city has its share of charm thanks to the presence of many tree-lined streets and some beautiful large parks.

We found our casa with a palatial-sized room, then did a city tour to take in the Arcul de Triumph, Piata Charles de Gaulle and, of course, the Parliament of the People. There is plenty of urban decay here as well.

Spaghetti wiring in Bucharest

We met and spoke at length with a WarmShowers contact, a young architect who is a cyclist. He is not able to find a job so far but remains optimistic that he will. He impressed me with his insight into his own situation and that of his country.

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