After having made the sudden decision to return to Bucharest and not continue further into Transylvania, my next step was to walk over to the train station and book a seat on a train. I had several options to get from Sibiu to the capital but most of them took over 8 hours and arrived at the most inconvenient of times. So after spending ten minutes reviewing my options with the ticket woman behind the counter, whose frustration at my inability to choose a departure time grew exponentially by the second, I chose the third fastest train of the day, only because it was the only direct train that arrived at a decent hour.
The next afternoon, at 2:45pm, I sat down in a window seat on that train, having made it on board only one minute before the train left. This was not because I arrived at the station late (I actually arrived 45 minutes early) but because I didn’t realize that the two small train cars sitting on Track #3 was actually my train. Apart from the train number on the side of the locomotive being completely different than the train number on my ticket, I assumed that it would be a much bigger train, especially considering that my reservation was for a seat in Wagon #7 and there were only two wagons, #3 and #4.
But, as usual, I figured it out in the end, this time thanks to a short, gray-moustached train station staff member who blew his cigarette smoke directly into my face while literally pushing me in the back towards Wagon #3. At the time, I just thought he was giving me a free back massage that must have been included with my ticket but I quickly realized that he was making sure I was on board the train before it departed. Thank you sir.
Once I was comfortably seated and my backpack was in the overheard luggage rack, I then did what I assume most people do when they first board a train. I smelled my shirt, realized that it stunk and then proceeded to change it right there in the car while putting on an extra dose of deodarant.
Then, with my body odor under control, I sat back and bid farewell to Sibiu, not only feeling quite lucky that I had not missed the train, but feeling quite lucky at having chosen this particular departure. The scenery on this route turned out to be quite different than my previous Romanian train journeys, and only a few minutes out of Sibiu, I had a wide-open view of the Southern Carpathian Mountains, snow-covered and super-impressive, providing the most ideal backdrop to the handful of villages we passed, villages that lay scattered around the most perfect forests, with their beautiful fall colors offering me one mesmerizing view after another. As a result, I had a difficult time doing anything but observing what passed by my window.
And that was a good thing considering that there was nobody else to talk to on the train as my car was once again basically empty, with never more than five people inside, even after pulling into what appeared to be several somewhat major stations. For me, this was more than ideal as I admittedly was slightly nervous about my random decision to return to Bucharest. Being able to sit there on that train, in such a quiet atmosphere, helped calm me down and ease my fears of facing the unknown.
As a result, when the train arrived into Bucarest’s Gara de Nord Station at 9:15pm, and I proceeded to walk down the long platform and into the main terminal building, I felt ready to continue following my inner voice that had led me to this capital city for a second visit. I also realized, just as I stood there under the main screen that listed all of the train arrivals and departures for the day, that this latest train journey of this Eurail trip had once again helped confirm that train travel is now, without a doubt, my preferred method of travel.
*Here’s a short, simple video I took while staring out the window of the train. It just shows how calming the journey proved to be…