Our last stop in Romania was the capital city of Bucharest. I wasn’t expecting much as we headed to Bucharest since I knew it was a major metropolis still recovering from the effects of a harsh and repressive communist regime and wouldn’t have the medieval charm of the other small cities that we visited throughout Romania. Nevertheless, we needed to stop in Bucharest because it’s a major hub in that region for ongoing travel to our next destination. So, there we were in Bucharest.
Our first night at a “new” AirBnB apartment was miserable. The place was clean which was the only thing that made it bearable for one night. Other than that it sucked. We had a sleepless night and hauled ass to another place the next morning. The apartment buildings are reminiscent of the Soviet-era buildings that we encountered throughout Russia so I’m glad we didn’t arrive at these places in the middle of the night.
Paris is a fun city to visit as a tourist, but it can get pricey and repetitive if you stay at a hotel and eat out for every meal. One of the things I enjoyed most about Paris is that for a big city it’s actually quite accessible for tourists who want to experience it with a somewhat local approach.
First of all, don’t believe what anyone says about French people being jerks to foreigners who don’t speak the language. We heard horror stories about how rude Parisians can be to non-French speaking tourists, but that wasn’t the case at all for us. Everyone we met was very friendly and helpful even when my only words to them were “wee” and “mercy.”
So, we rented an apartment in a less touristy area, donned our berets, grabbed a baguette and explored Paris like tourists pretending to be locals. Here’s what else we did to blend in.
Day 1: Into the Wild
With my heart in my throat, N and I boarded the Rossiya train for the first leg of our journey to Ulan-Ude, the capital of the Buryat Republic smack in the middle of Siberia. The kupé (second class) cabin was surprisingly modern and unlike anything we had seen in photos in guidebooks and on blogs. The toilets I had been nervously anticipating ended up being like an airplane toilet; not the best situation, but at least they weren’t the old lever-style toilets which flushed the contents of the bowl directly onto the tracks below.
The first few hours passed quietly, with only the two of us in the cabin for four. My fever was back and I crawled up to my top bunk hopped up on aspirin and passed out. I had expected to be constantly jostled around in a loud, screeching train so I was surprised by how quiet it actually was. In the afternoon, we were greeted by “Ni hao!”s as a new cabinmate and her husband boarded the train at one of the small towns that we stopped at. After kisses goodbye, our cabinmate’s husband left and we were off again.