Our day started early our first whole day in Bucharest, only because breakfast is free at our hotel, the Green Forum. On the lower level is a restaurant that reeks of smoke. Nduku wants me to make sure I reiterate Romanians smoke every and anywhere they feel like it. Even with Najwa running around, they puff on their Pall Malls.
But we tolerated it. Again, breakfast is free.
As I learned from the last time we left the country, bacon isn’t the same as bacon back home. Actually, I’m not sure if our waitress understood me since she brought out slices of salami. And it was my fault when I ordered, from the menu, fried eggs, and they came sunny side up. The only way I like my eggs are scrambled with cheese. I thought that’s what fried eggs were, since you scramble eggs in a frying pan, right? They did their best to make them appealing, though.
We headed back to the hotel room to get ready for our journey into the city of Bucharest. And just as soon as I finished bragging about how Najwa and I were immune to jet lag, it was lights out. Snoring and all.
When the clock struck 8:00 am in Washington, DC, Najwa and I woke up. It was 3:00 pm Bucharest time. But we finally made it out the door. We stopped by a grocery store right around the corner. It’s logo is the exact same logo as Food Lion, a grocery store usually found in the boonies in America. But this grocery store was called Mega Image. Not sure if they know what that means in English, but there have no photo processing center inside. Nor pharmaceuticals. But they had an entire aisle for liquor. Lots of vodkas of course.
Just as you approach the Metro, there’s a huge bottle of Ciur. I’m guessing it’s a local beer. The Metro, just a couple of blocks from the hotel, was my idea. Nduku wanted to take a cab downtown, but she knows the adventurist in me prefers to do it like the locals. I was just hoping the Bucharest Metro system is closer to Washington, DC’s Metro compared to New York’s subway system.
First thing we noticed at the entrance we used — no escalator or elevator. Just like New York. Not a good sign. Next thing we noticed was the touch screen fare card machine. Just like New York, but a good thing this time. They were pretty easy to figure out. Since we’ll be here almost a week, I got the 7-day pass which costs 15 RON [Romanian Leu] which is about $4.22. My one day round trip to work and back is $12.20 and that rate is going up next month!
Perhaps the Bucharest Metro can be so cheap because they get their money in other ways. For one, there are billboard ads everywhere. Will Smith’s face is seen all over Bucharest because of Men in Black III ads. And they have vending machines, vendor’s booths and snack stands everywhere. They also sell flowers, lots of flowers, freshly baked bread, magazines and newspapers, all in the Metro. There’s even a McDonald’s in the Metro station!
But before you got the impression this is an old system [which it may be] because of the feeling of gray, the blocky layout, lack of escalators and elevators and the primary colors, they do have one thing Washington, DC’s Metro doesn’t. Free wi-fi.