Traveling in a new country is always an adventure: you must figure out the bus schedule (and if the buses adhere to a schedule), judge the sketchiness of local taxi drivers, and engage in a great deal of patient creativity when things don’t go your way. Our trip to the Danube River Delta, in the northeastern corner of Romania, certainly reminded us to be flexible and ready for new and unexpected experiences, and to maintain a sense of humor no matter what.
Our first obstacle, but one which we tackled with relative ease, was the bus ride up to Tulcea (pronounced Tool-cha) – the nearest city to our remote hotel. We Ubered from our apartment to the tiny, rather run-down-looking Autogara Augustina (bus station) and successfully picked up our pre-booked tickets (miracles do happen!). After waiting until the last possible minute, we piled onto the mini-bus and fortune guided us to the correct seats. We arrived in Tulcea on time after an uneventful (if dehydrated) trip through endless sunflower and corn fields. We even managed to hail a cab, with the assistance of a benevolent, English-speaking passer-by. Thanks to him, our Romanian-speaking cabbie figured out where we were trying to go.
At the Delta Nature Resort, which nestles into a hillside on the edge of the wetlands, we were greeted by a bespeckled and shyly exuberant puppy (whom we later named Lola). She followed us to the reception, and then all the way down to our little bungalow facing the lake and marshlands. We spent a relaxing and uneventful afternoon people-watching by the pool and marveling at the stunning views from the restaurant’s balcony. Our dinner was tasty and fresh, our local wine was pleasantly spicy, and our charming server spoke no English (I hope you’re sensing a common theme…). Fortunately, young Vlad the receptionist came to our aid, and we managed to order almost the correct bottle of wine (they didn’t have it, so they unilaterally decided to give us the next best thing).
The next day, we embarked upon an epic journey back into Tulcea to take a tour of the Danube River Delta. You can read more about that adventure on Friday’s post. 🙂
We thought our boat trip would be the most entertaining, eventful, story-worthy experience we’d have that day. Although we were right, our dinner at the resort that night gave our excursion a run for its money.
It had been a long (but wonderful) day, and we were looking forward to another relaxing dinner a few (ok more like 500) steps from our room. Alas, it was not meant to be. Throughout the evening, it became fairly clear that the resort was being run by a group of kids – the oldest couldn’t have been more than 21. With no adults around, and the capable Vlad conspicuously absent, the youngsters ran amok. I don’t have the space to detail every mishap, but I will say this: there were many. By the time we got the right wine (red, not white) and almost the right food (tenderloin, and some unidentifiable white fish, not salmon – but you pick your battles) – we had been bemusedly chuckling, sighing, and shaking our heads for about an hour and a half. Thankfully, the liter of house wine was tasty, and the chef knocked it out of the park.
And yet our adventures were not quite over. There were still buses to be taken (or not taken). On Sunday morning, after confirming the bus schedule (we were assured the buses ran all day), we waited just outside the resort’s gates for the 12:05 bus into town. It never came. At 12:35, we trekked back up to the reception and informed the (19 year old?) clerk that there had been no bus. She was baffled, but disappeared into a back room for all of eight seconds. Upon reappearing, she informed us that the 1:05 bus would definitely be coming. How she possibly (psychically?) knew this, we’ll never be sure – but indeed, there was a bus around 1:05.
Once back in town, we enjoyed a leisurely lunch at a pizza cafe, walked back to the station, and spotted our bus at the end of the row. We were prepared to board – it was the same bus that had brought us to Tulcea two days prior – but suddenly another, much larger bus pulled up beside it. Unfortunately, the signs listing the routes were not terribly clear. It became obvious to me that this larger bus – which was being mobbed by hordes of people – was likely our only ride back to Bucharest…and indeed it was. After renegotiating our seats a couple times, we finally settled in and waited for the bus to depart (and the AC to come on). Last surprise of the weekend? The AC appeared to be broken. So we sweated all four and a half hours back to Bucharest with 50 of our new, equally sweaty, Romanian friends. Little trips like these remind me that there’s never a dull moment, and there’s always room for one more adventure. I’m thankful for every single one!