i was contemplating a last-minute getaway from Bucharest to Sibiu and one of the factors that helped me decide was being able to buy train tickets online. it’s more expensive, and i think a bit lengthier, than taking a bus, but i think worth it for the comfort and the views (as you’ll see later) as the train trundles through the Carpathians and Transylvania.
indeed, just go to //bilete.cfrcalatori.ro — it’s a very basic website and you have to sign up for an account, but after that it’s pretty straightforward. there are all sorts of conditions of purchase but it seems to work best (and indeed, well,) for simple one-way or round-trip tickets. as a bonus, you save 5% by making your booking online. the site accepts international credit cards (Verified by Visa actually worked without a hitch!) and you will need to print out your ticket when you’re done. note that onboard, they are supposed to check your ID to make sure it matches the name on the ticket, but at least on the way out here, the conductor did not.
oh, i should mention that the email that has the ticket attached (as a PDF) got sent to my gmail spam folder, so beware.
there’s not much at Bucharest Nord station, despite being the main one for the city — a couple fast food places and snack stands, but if you have to spend a significant amount of time there, ack. good luck.
the train was not too bad, especially for a 5.5 hour ride, although the car that i got a seat assigned in did get a bit cramped towards the end after it picked up a bunch of people in Brasov. (i had this whole section to myself for a good couple hours!) there was also a group of youngins further back in the car and one of them kept plaintively strumming on a guitar — it was a nice bit of local color which i really appreciated, since it played right into my stereotypical European train ride fantasy (yes, i’m weird like that, even after visiting the continent so many times, i still have these idyllic American-stereotype-informed daydreams of daily life in Europe).
there was, to my surprise, a power plug on the wall hidden by a curtain which remained working for the entire trip, except for a few minutes at Brasov when they swap out the electric locomotive to a diesel one (as the line from Brasov on is not electrified). yay! (yes, it looks sketch, but it did work and did not electrocute me!)
the ride is very scenic. i was going to try to get some work done (since i had power!) but as we started to go through the Carpathian mountains i put my laptop away because i couldn’t stop staring out the window. the mountains, while not particularly tall (maybe that’s because i just came back from the Himalayas), are really pretty as they rise up over the countryside.
oh, and you know this famous scene from EuroTrip (one of my favorite movies)? “mi scusi! mi scusi!” —
well, it can happen! lol i was sitting in a group that consisted of (besides me) a couple from Israel, a university student from Sibiu, and an old man to my right. the old man, bless his heart, was just bored and kept talking to the student who tried to be pleasant (but had her limits). i laughed a hearty laugh when she was complaining to me about him and he somehow laughed too and patted me on the lap, and as he was finishing up, his hand brushed against my erm, crotch. i’m sure it was by accident, but i was taken aback by the fact hat he patted me on the lap at all and then got O_O when his hand accidentally (god i hope) wandered. “scuza-ma! scuza-ma!” indeed, though he didn’t say it; if he did, i would have busted up.