Traveling in Romania

Friday, May 30, 2008

I just flew to Romania...and are my arms tired!

Okay...I know, not funny.  Still....

Traveling from Frankfurt to Bucharest on Tarom Airlines was quite nice.  The plane was so clean on the inside, the seats were wide and there seemed to be lots more legroom than in my previous 2 flights.  And the flight attendants were absolutely gorgeous.  Always a plus. 

I sat in a row of three on the aisle, with two younger professionals in the other two seats.  The lady next to me has a PhD in some sort of environmental area, and he is an engineer of some sort.  They work for the same company and were in Germany for training.  Her English was decent, his...not so much, so she did all the talking.  We talked about work, life in our respective countries and cities (well...her city of 2+ million, my tiny little town of 9000+), etc.  She is to be married next month, and would like to have kids some day.  I told her about mine and she found it hard to believe I had kids so old.  Truth be told, I find it hard to believe myself....

As for Romanian weddings, apparently they start in the afternoon one day and end around 6 AM the next.  I guess if you survive the wedding without killing each other by that time, the marriage has a good chance of making it. 

Arrived in Bucharest on time, and went through Immigration without a problem.  They didn't even ask me anything, just looked at my passport, ran it through their little machine, and stamped it.  Easy.  Went to the luggage area and my two suitcases were among the first out of the plane.  Sweet! 

It wasn't easy maneuvering my luggage and carryon's through the airport, but I had to find the domestic gates for my next flight.  While evading an untold number of guys saying "taxi?" I somehow found that I had to go downstairs for my next flight. Managed the elevator with little problem and got in line.  The Bucharest airport really isn't "tourist friendly" so figuring out everything wasn't simple, but the airport is small, so you can't get too lost.

Got in line to get my boarding pass and check my luggage.  I put my bags on the scale next to the counter and handed the guy my ticket.  He looked a bit confused for a second then asked me if I had carry on luggage as well.  He then told me I was allowed only 25 kg of luggage in TOTAL on the flight, and they would have to charge me for the difference.

"Um...what?" was my reply.  Very articulate I know, but I was a little confused, and a little concerned considering my luggage was at least twice that weight.

In order to make my flights to Iasi, I actually had to buy two tickets.  One to Bucharest, then the next to Iasi.  The reason is that when coming home, there seems to be no way to schedule a flight from Iasi to Tulsa in the same flight day, so no online ticketing system will give me such a ticket.  I thought I was being smart, but now it looked like I made a slight mistake.

So...I played "the innocent" card.  I told the guy I made weight appropriately on my flights here to Bucharest, and it wasn't like I was just flying only in the country.  I did come from somewhat far away.... Amazingly, he shook his head yes, and said "very far away" and waved his hand to signal "never mind" and went ahead and checked the luggage.  Wow...... it worked!

Had to go through another security checkpoint.  By this time, I was a pro... but wondering about the metal detector.  I put everything on the conveyor belt, and stepped through.


AARRRRRRRRRRGHHHHHHHHHHHH!! (I thought this, I said nothing)

The man told me to go back out and take off my shoes.  My shoes?  Okay..... I did, and stepped through. 


What?!?!  Nothing??  Both times in Germany it was my shoes???  I had to be frisked twice and all that time it was my shoes???  I bet they knew that too.  As I put my stuff back together and my shoes and belt back on, I was thinking very ugly thoughts about the Frankfurt airport and it's security staff. 

Got to the gate area (only three gates) and sat and waited.  Good thing there was only three, as no English was spoken here.  All I heard was "zzzzzzzzzzzzzz Iasi zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz" and I knew it was time to board.  Another bus to ride, and we are soon being transported to our plane.  I see a few planes out there, but we zoom past them.  I see another jet off in the distance, so I assume that must be ours, and our bus heads in that direction. 

What I didn't know, and didn't see until we got on the other side of the jet were these somewhat antiquated looking planes with propellers.  Yes... prop planes.  Ewww... I don't really like prop planes, but what could I say.  At least I understood now why the weight limit.  I got on, tight fit, the guy next to me didn't speak, and probably just as well since I doubt he spoke English.  He was reading a book though that made me curious... it had words like "Jimmy Carter" and "George Bush" but the rest was in Romanian so I had no clue.

The flight is only an hour, and soon we were landing.  Iasi's airport is not the most modern, looking somewhat like a Quonset Hut and an Igloo from the air.  There was no gate to speak off, they just parked and we got out.  The luggage cart used to transport the luggage off the plane to the terminal was an old pickup, with the bed of another old pickup attached as a trailer.  The luggage claim area had no belts of revolving bags, but they just unloaded the truck and carried the suitcases inside.  Obviously there isn't a whole lot of air traffic here. 

I got my stuff, wheeled it to the waiting area...and saw Catalina!  I made it!!  Next apartment and a nap!  Told arms are tired.


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