Friday, February 4, 2011

"Did we REALLY just get on the wrong train?!"

The day started out normal enough. Freya and I had spent the last few days traveling the western front, hitting up Timisoara, Arad, and Oradea and now were headed back home. In Arad, we buy our train tickets, check the Departures Board, see that we're on line 2 and head towards the tracks.  Soon after, the train arrives, we get on, (but not before making comments that it looked like a green cattle car-hint number 1 we weren't in the right place...) and we find out seat. Ipods in, and we waited for departure.

At exactly 2:30PM the train left-right on schedule. We had been traveling for about 15 minutes when the controller, or ticket checker walks by. We noticed he was not wearing the national CFR train uniform but didn't think much of it as we pulled our tickets out of our bags. (Hint number 2 we weren't in the right place.)  As Freya hands him her ticket, he looks at it, looks at us, looks back at the ticket and says "Nu este bun." OR in English- "It's not good." WHAT? I say "poftim?" or "excuse me?".  He looks at both of us and says again "Yeah, its not good.  Where are you going?" "Timisoara!" Freya responds, confused as all hell. "Well", he says, "we're not going to Timisoara". 

At this point Freya and I just look at each other, shocked, confused, horrified, scared. What does he mean we're not going to Timisoara?! Long story short, and with the help of the entire train car giving us information, we realized that we were on a local private train, headed out to the mountain villages in the East. Not South. Basically, the train we wanted was BEHIND this train on line 2-OBVIOUSLY, RIGHT? So once we figured out where we were headed, we had to figure out where to get off and get back on track to Timi.  The lady next to us told us where to get off (Periam) and so at every station our faces were pressed against the cold window pane, trying to spot our destination.  Finally, after about an hour of traveling in the wrong direction, we got off at Periam, a tiny village East of Arad. And so the adventure really begins...
Heading into Periam...where are we?!
We walk inside to the ticket window but there is no one behind the counter, so we walk right into the "seful statie" or the "station master's office" and tell him we've got ourselves a little situation.  In my Romanian, I try to tell him what we've done and miraculously he understands and tells us there IS  a train to Timisoara. ALLELUIA! This is the good news. Bad news-it doesn't leave for another 2.5 hours. AWESOME.  We look around the village. I see a cemetery, a bar, and some houses.  We ask the man if there is a store we can go to, somewhere to stay warm and he points us into the direction of the bar and he says they have great coffee. The bar it is. 

Under the protective and watchful eye of the seful statie we walk towards the bar, and run right into a village crazie.  Literally this man is  walking up to us saying "fetelor! fetelor" with basically translates to "girls! girls!". Yes sir, we are ladies, but we want nothing to do with you. Freya and I have a short discussion in English, muttering under our breathes "What do we do? do we turn around" BUT THERE IS COFFEE IN THERE!" We move away from the man, turn around at least three times to walk back to the station but decide he's probably harmless so head back to the bar.  At this point, he beats us to the punch and runs into the bar yelling "the girls are coming! There are girls here!" Wonderful. We wait until he leaves and enter the bar.

As we enter, all eyes are on us (thank you messenger man) and we (dragging our packs) decide a beer is definitely in order. We order a beer, turn around to find a seat, and realize there are no free tables. Integration right? So we sit at the end of a long table where we were offered a seat and open our Ciuc beers.  After a few sips and awkward glances, the seful statie walks in with some friends and announces our presence again. "These are some American girls, they got on the wrong train and now are here with us!" Wow. So at this point conversation is started, and before We know it, Freya and I are taking pictures, discussing British English v. American English, and insisted that Freya's camera was NOT $1,000 as they kept insisting.  After some time at the bar we were invited back to the station where we could wait by a cracking soba fire until our next train arrived.
The bartender and our faithful station master.

Freya enjoying her Ciuc.
For the next two hours, we read, listened to our ipods, and enjoyed conversation with the seful and the random people that kept walking in and out to "see the American girls".  Before we knew it, our time had come to leave and we said a sad farewell to the kind and hospitable station master, all the conductors, and our new friends in Periam. It was like a movie, the train pulled out of the station and we all waved at each other until we became lost in the darkness of the night.
Pulling away from Periam, there's the station master!

Waving farewell...
 What should have been a 1.5 hour trip turned into a 6 hour adventure back home-and we would have it no other way. We truly had an amazing time meeting those wonderful and kind Romanians. They could have made us wait for our train outside in the cold and not said another word, but we were given shelter, food, and were made to feel at home immediately.  This is what we love about Romania. The people never cease to amaze us with their kindness, their giving spirit, and their love for life in general.  Our mistake turned into a true exchange of cultures, and opportunity to see somewhere we would never have seen before and meet people we never would have known. 

We're considering making a trip back to say thank you-this time on purpose.

Sara & Freya
Back on track! Heading to Timisoara finally.

1 comment:

  1. Holy Frijoles, Batman..what an adventure! I'm glad it all came out well and you got a bit more of the country "under your belts" lol