It's been ages since I've travelled by train... in Romania. Yes, I've travelled in the UK, in Italy, in France... but in Romania, you just don't do it unless you have to.
Picture this: in 2018, the average speed of the trains in Romania was LESS than it was in 1935. And that's a fact, not something that I've come up with, you can check it out in the newspapers.
So... you don't do trains in Romania. Rule no. 1 about our country...
Now, what in the name of God, made us travel by train up to the mountain resort of Sinaia (also a gateway over the mountains for trains and cars alike), just over 60km away, beats me at this moment. I guess that the fact we bought tickets in first class (the fare was cheap as the destination was close) and we thought we had A/C in the compartment must have really tricked us.
The reality was that this train (3 wagons I must add), was coming all the way from Constanța (some 300 km away, on the shore of the sea). So inside the first-class compartment, there were people travelling for 4, maybe 5 hours and imagine our shock when we got inside and we found almost naked children crowding in the entrance of the wagon. Struggling to breathe... to catch a mouthful of fresh air. Outside it was 40 degrees Celsius, mid-August and the fucking A/C broke down. The conductors were trying to get it back on but they were overwhelmed by the problem, the shouting and the cursing of the people there. Right on the first-class wagon, where there were only two small windows that you could not open because it was supposed to have... A/C.
In order to determine us to get our asses on the train it must have contributed, as well, that feeling that we've got when we reserve an afternoon for ourselves and we forget about anything else and just have a small out of the ordinary trip, something that you don't normally do every day. So yeah, for me, that thing is taking the train. I should've stayed with the conform of my own car as in 15 clicks away from the departure I was already sweating like a pig. And I'm not that kind of easy-sweaty pig.
The reason for the trip was a protest. Together with some friends I've made at the party I'm a member in, we've developed a little protest in Sinaia for saving a historical, paved, alley. It was the connecting alley between the centre of Sinaia's Train Station and the centre of the royal-village, back then. The particular fact about this alley is that it was made by the Royalty of Romania, back at the end of the 19th century. And it stayed that way. The reason for destroying this (and bringing some big, old trees in the process) was to build a "Park'n'ride" sort of garage. I really support this type of projects but developing a Park'n'Ride in the middle of the city you are supposed to save from traffic by implementing this, was totally bollocks. Moreover, the mayorship has accessed funds from the EU through some "green axes of financing"... for cutting down trees. Go figure!
Anyway, in the end, some months later, the protest and the claims we've made, together with some news outlets, made the Government and the EU retract the support for financing this.
Sinaia is that kind of a mountains resort that reminds us, the Romanians, of the old Royalty we've had before the communists arrived. The city can be quite picturesque, when not crowded while the old buildings, developed in this own but Bavarian-inspired architecture, has it's own perfume and can be visited just like that.
It has a very nice park. You can see the touch of Royalty in the place of the park, in the way it's been thought through. It incorporates a 19th-century Hotel, the Casino where the Royalty used to throw parties and gamble and a place for the servants to stay in, a sort of cheaper hotel. All of these 3 buildings are incorporated in this park and the Pastry Place that is set among the branches of the ancient trees that dwell here is just fabulous.
I don't know if it's the atmosphere but eating a cake here just gets me into this special mood.
The trip back by train, around 10 o'clock in the evening, was pretty nice. Free train, the temperatures already dropped that you don't even care about the A/C and some time to try the new book I've brought with me.
Happy to be back in the car though...