The journey from Rousse in Bulgaria to Bucharest in Romania took just under 2 hours and passed quickly due to there being two
friendly girls from London on board the minibus happy to have a chinwag.
We were dropped off in a central area of Bucharest and I started heading for my hotel. I was dying for a coffee (read: toilet) and on passing a small restaurant I thought I’d pop in and give my (very) limited Romanian a try. I managed a greeting and to order a coffee politely, although I had no idea what she said back to me, but her beautiful smile was worth it. I even managed to ask where the toilet was, which was again greeted with a wondrous smile and a babble of words I didn’t understand – I followed the pointing finger and managed to find it. It seemed that the Romanian’s appreciate you trying to speak their language just as much as the Turks did.
I then had a 10 minute walk to my hotel near Cismigiu Park. I had been through Romania previously, but only at night in a taxi on my way to Bulgaria. Walking through the streets in the afternoon spring sunshine, I was very impressed. The architecture was impressive; I could be in London or Paris. True, some buildings weren’t in a great state of repair… but again; I could be in London or Paris!
The boulevards were wide and the traffic reminiscent of any large city. I had expected to see Ladas and old VWs; instead I saw
Mercedes and a surprising amount of modern French cars.
The people too; they were beautiful. Ok, there was the odd old lady or homeless guy (again, London or Paris…) but in general the people were very well, fashionably dressed, and the women were gorgeous – elegant clothes, slim figures, beautiful jet black or platinum blond well styled hair.
I was liking Romania!
Then I arrived at my hotel. It was basic – seems I’d made a mistake and not realised I didn’t have an ensuite bathroom – but clean and quiet. And it had been incredibly cheap; for one nights stay it would do the job. It’s proximity to the park was great too; and supposedly close to the restaurants and bars (although I did get a bit lost and struggled to find the main area).
Cismigiu Park is definitely worth a visit if you find yourself in Bucharest. There’s a lovely lake and great spot to have a drink
overlooking it and the trees. An oasis in a busy city. I’ve since taken two lady friends there since; it’s a very romantic spot.
Bucharest does have many similarities to the so-called most romantic city in the world, Paris: it seems the dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu copied many aspects and there’s even an Arc De Triumph.
In the evening I went for a wander and admired some of the beautifully lit buildings on the Calea Victoriei such as the National
Art Museum, the Romanian Athenaeum and the Central University Library, and passed Revolution Square, where Ceaușescu delivered
his last speech. I ended up getting a little lost and didn’t find the main restaurant area I was looking for. Getting hungry, I popped into what looked like a nice local restaurant, only to find out later it was Hungarian. Still, I enjoyed the food.
I managed to find a few bars but being alone and not speaking much Romanian, and having to get up early the next day, I just sampled a few local beverages and headed back to the hotel.
The next day I flew to Madrid.
This was another quick stop; I’d decided that after so much travelling I wanted the last few days to rest and had found cheap flights to Madrid and on to Tenerife the next day. I spent a few hours wandering around the busy Spanish city but was tired from
travelling and there was some kind of festival going on; the streets were packed and after finding some interesting buildings and
taking a few snaps decided to go for some food. A few drinks and an early night, then I was off to Playa De Las Americas, in Tenerife.
I spent 4 days on the wonderful Canary Island and enjoyed myself thoroughly.
I’d been a bit worried I might get bored on my own, especially now I wasn’t travelling so much. The first morning the weather wasn’t great so I passed my time exploring and found a good internet cafe and caught up with the goings on of the world. It brightened up later and I was happy to read a good book by the pool.
In the evening I decided to hit the nightlife.
I’d been a bit scared going out at night on my own in Turkey and Romania (in Bulgaria had stayed with family in the village so hadn’t gone out – the local wine was enough to keep me happy!) but in Tenerife figured that there’d be plenty of English tourists and I’d be able to merge in and get chatting to someone – hopefully a hot young lady (being single at the time).
I turned up at the infamous Veronicas Strip – and found it empty.
Was I too early?
Possibly… it was about 10pm. People on holiday often go out much later; particularly since the 2008 economic crash – people would get cheap drinks at home/the hotel and go out later.
I wandered into the first bar and sat down at one of the many free chairs outside – the place was deserted.
An eager young barmaid walked up to me to ask what I’d like to drink. I ordered and when she returned with it I asked her where everyone was. She seemed as confused as I was; it was normally busier by this time of night, and this time of season, apparently. As it was, people did start showing up over the next hour, but even by midnight it could hardly have been called busy.
She was very friendly though and obviously quite bored, so we both passed the time chatting, when she wasn’t serving customers. She was pretty enough, but only 16, and there was just no chemistry; yet for the next 3 nights I came to that bar for at least an hour for a pleasant chat with her.
I found a night club that evening which was somewhat busier, and enjoyed a few cocktails, becoming ‘more talkative’, shall we say, and found myself looking at random pictures of myself and strangers on my phone the next day.
These things happen.
The weather disappointed me again though, and as the day wore on, didn’t seem to be getting any better.
I decided to hire a car. Catching a lady at a local rental firm just about to leave for a siesta, I managed to get a cheap car for 24 hours, and headed up mount Teide and emerged above the clouds at 2000m (6 and half thousand feet) to beautiful vistas of cloud enshrined pine trees and glorious sunshine.
Fortunately me for, the last two days were wonderously sunny and warm and I chilled by the beach and pool, making the most of the
remaining 12 hours car hire and visiting a couple of local recommended beaches, the beautiful cliffs at Los Gigantes (literally, ‘The Giants‘). I wasn’t bored or lonely; I had my book during the day; in the evenings I chatted with my barmaid friend and later allowed the cocktails to do their magic and loosen my tongue to chat to random strangers. On the last night I ended up exchanging phone numbers (and a few kisses) with a pleasant lass from Newcastle. As you do.
Thoroughly entertained and relaxed I headed back to the UK and reality.
So if you want to travel alone, I can recommend it; just do your research, learn a few words of the local lingo, and take a good
The Lonely Planet Canary Islands (Travel Guide) can be purchased from Amazon.