Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Bucharest, Romania (DoubleTree by Hilton, Unirii Square)

Was packed and squared away with the hotel by 9:45 a.m. then ordered a ride with Uber to the airport for my 12:20 flight to Sofia, Bulgaria.

I made a mistake when I put in the airport address because there were several to choose from. Once I was in the car I changed the destination but the driver seemed to think there was a problem with that. We tried to figure it out but he was okay, regardless, to take me to the airport. I gave him 10 Euros extra to even out any possible error on my part. I probably paid too much but the cost to the airport, considering what I’ve paid in other cities, was very reasonable. Plus, I was at the airport well ahead of the plane’s departure time. I was happy.

It was a little crazy at the airline’s check-in desks. It wasn’t clear which line to stand in. The airline, Tarom-Romanian, was a regional airline so delays such as this are to be expected. This is why I like to show up early to the airport. You never know what delays you’ll encounter.

When I went through Security my carry-on bag was searched. This happens every so often. I just smile and do whatever is asked. And say “thank you” as often as I can. It was a good reminder that I probably need to go through my carry-on bag and organize it.

When I got to the gate I joined the other passengers. We kept waiting for someone from the airline to staff the boarding gate so we could get onto the bus that would drive us to the plane. The bus had already arrived and the driver was also looking for someone from the airline. At about the time our plane was scheduled to take off, someone showed up. It was the same guy who checked me in upstairs. (He must be wearing different hats today.) When I showed him my boarding pass, he said, “Hello again.” And had a smile on his face. I almost asked if he was also to be our pilot today.

At the very most there were 50 people on the plane, so boarding was fairly quick and we took off only about 20 minutes late. Even though the flight was a 55 minute flight, we were given something to eat and drink. Without being charged. Even though we were late departing Bucharest, we landed almost on time in Sofia.

Passport Control in Sofia was a little slow, but I got through it in around 20 minutes. While in line, a guy from New York asked if he could cut in front of me because he was in the wrong line. I said sure – what is one more person. We talked for a bit before we were to get our passports stamped. My suitcase was waiting for me in baggage and I went upstairs to get some local currency from an ATM before I caught a taxi.

While in the taxi line I met up with the guy from New York again. Though just as we started to move up the line I checked my phone for the Airbnb address and I couldn’t see the phone’s display. It was dark! Did my phone die and I’m without a phone? I wished the New York guy a good stay in Sofia and went back into the terminal to figure this out. This happened once before when I was travelling in the Sahara desert and recall it was due to my accidentally dimming the display. But I still needed the address to the Airbnb.

I happened to see a couple of flight attendants outside and asked if I could use one of their phones as a hotspot so I could read my email on my laptop. While I didn’t find the address (probably buried in one of the emails, of several, when I made the reservation). But I did find the phone number. I asked if she could call and ask for the address, which she did. Now I had an address that I could give to the taxi driver. I thanked her for helping me out. Again, I really meet the nicest people!

The taxi driver was having trouble getting through the traffic but we eventually made it to the Airbnb. I met up with the host and she showed me around the flat. It was a little bigger that what I expected, but it had air conditioning. It was expected to be warm in Sofia while I’m here so was very glad to have it available.

After she left, I got the room dark enough to find out how to increase the brightness on my phone. I was back in business again. Also got my phone and laptop on the flat’s WiFi network.

Since my phone was sorted out, I walked to the nearest store and bought some food. I’m starting to ask my hosts if there is salt and pepper in the kitchen. This seems to be a good indicator of how much food I need to buy. In this case there was salt but no pepper. Well, good to know before I headed for the store.

The store was about a 15 minute walk (mostly uphill) from where I’m staying but it had everything I needed. I will cook my usual chicken tonight and also have mashed potatoes and broccoli. The cost for two large bags of groceries was around $44 USD.

After a nap I called Cousin Donna to see how she was. I hadn’t spoken with her for several weeks. I also provided her an update on her brother’s estate and we planned some next steps as the estate closes in July or August.

Always interesting to make a dinner in a unfamiliar kitchen. You never know what you have to work with or even how to operate the oven or stove top. The Airbnb host showed me how the oven worked and the stove top was easy to figure out. I seemed to have everything I needed to begin dinner. (Glad I carry with me something to peal a potato.)

While the chicken was roasting in the oven I worked on my travel blog and uploaded more pictures. By the time I finished with the blog updates and dinner it was getting close to 10:00 p.m. I’ve been starting to watch a new sci-fi show on Netflix and watched another episode before I go to bed. I was able to use a HDMI cable to connect my laptop with the TV.

Tomorrow I’ll finish getting settled in and totally unpacked. Also need to figure out the dishwasher and clothes washer too. And get a haircut. I’m also meeting up with a work friend from OHSU tomorrow evening. I’ll begin my tour of Sofia the following day.

To see pictures: CLICK HERE

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