I'm sitting in Gradma Cismigiu garden in Bucharest. I just spent all night on a train, more than two hours in line to get a ticket to Ruse, and a taxi driver wanted to rip me off. Ten minutes ago I was fuming when I walked through this park. I sat down here in the sun, the birds are singing, in the distance I can hear children playing, and the distant sounds of traffic almost sound like a waterfall. I sounds like, smells like, feels like Spring. Suddenly I'm relaxed and it was all worth it again.
I spent almost an hour sitting in the park, I then rushed around trying to see the important buildings and spots in Bucharest (yes I saw the palace - the second largest building in the world, after the Pentagon; no I didn't have time to go inside it). Everyone had told me to skip Bucharest, but I liked it and was disapointed I wasn't staying the night. Bucharest is an interesting city, traffic, but with horse carriges mixed in; crumbling slums, but with grand old (well preserved / restored?) buildings mixed in; lively, but with a traditional feel.
Train to Ruse was only 3 hours from my guide book I was expecting 7. I US citizens don't need a visa to enter Bulgaria, but I didn't notice the fine print about the US$22 border tax - payable only in US$. I only had $21 cash left, and the officials wouldn't take travelers checks, lukily I'd had some leftover Deutch Marks left over and when that was all I had they agreed to take it. Being Saturday all the banks and change offices were closed, and everyone I could find who spoke any English told me there were no ATMs, so I took the easy route and decided to stay in a nice hotel that would cash travellers checks and take credit cards. It was very expensive for the region, but I got a bath (first since Corfu, Greece back in October). I spent the evening wandering around Ruse, and of course, found an ATM. Romania was difficult almost no English and the Crylic alphabet, very reminicent of St Petersberg, but not as grand and even more run down. Had a severely boring pizza (but very cheap ~$2)