Mobile phones
Getting around

Transylvania (Brasov, Sighisoara, Sibiu), Veliko Tarnovo, Thassos, Plovdiv, Kazanlak, Bucharest

7.6: Munich -> Bucharest
8.6: Bucharest -> Brasov
9.6:  Brasov
10.6: Brasov -> Sighisoara -> Sibiu
11.6: Sibiu
12.6: Sibiu -> Veliko Tarnovo
13.6: Veliko Tarnovo, Arbanasi
14.6: Veliko Tarnovo -> Thassos
15.6: Thassos
16.6: Thassos
17.6: Thassos
18.6: Thassos -> Plovdiv
19.6: Plovdiv
20.6: Plovdiv -> Kazanlak -> Bucharest
21.6: Bucharest
22.6: Bucharest -> Munich

Planning and overall impression

We were planning to visit Romania, a country where we haven't been yet. Also, we wanted to spend a few days on a beach along the Mediterranean sea, because the coastline there is more interesting than on the Black sea. Out of this came a trip which starting in Romania would cross Bulgaria to get into Greece. A rental car would have been needed and because we could not pick it up in one country and return it in another one, the trip had to be circular, i.e. we had to get back to Romania to return the car.
Another option would have been to rent a car in Romania and one in Greece and fly between Romania and Greece, but there was no suitable flight within a certain budget, so we dropped this idea.
Romania surprised me a bit. I was expecting a poor, backward, former east block country. Instead, the cities we visited were in a pretty good shape. Good infrastructure, clean cities, good standard, everything quite modern. Old historic places had been nicely restored and streets and public places were clean.
Also Bulgaria was in quite a good shape. Plovdiv has a lot of things to see (very interesting old town).
In Greece we found relatively high prices, especially in restaurants and ice cream parlours (ice cream even more expensive than in Munich).


Costs were moderate in Romania and Bulgaria, but quite high in Greece.


We ate in a number of different restaurants. The restaurants on Thassos island all more or less offered similar dishes (in the kind of "fish and chips" style. In Romania they had the Kürtőskalács spit cake which our kids liked a lot.


We booked a number of hotels and apartments in the 40-80 Euro price range, using international booking portals. The room standard was not bad.

Money  / Exchange rate (June 2019)

1 Euro = 4.72 RON
1 Euro = 1.95583 BGN (Bulgarian Lev)
For current exchange rates check the Universal Currency Converter.

Mobile phones and prepaid cards

Because Romania, Bulgaria and Greece are all EU member states, we had EU roaming in all three countries (using our German SIM cards) and didn't have to get local SIM cards.


Temperatures in Romania initially were topping at 25°C, mostly sunny weather. In Bulgaria temperatures went up to 30°C and in Greece it was even hotter. Towards the end of the trip also in Bucharest the temperatures were around 30°C, but there were some very heavy thunderstorms.

Health / Vaccinations

No vaccinations needed for the Balkans.

VISA / Entry requirements

VISA free entry for EU nationals and nationals of several other countries (including Malaysia).


Pretty good, no issues at all during the trip.

Recommended things

Things to avoid

Getting around

We drove around in a rented car. In all places we visited, driving with a car was easy and it was easy to find a parking. The road network overall is quite good. In the Bulgarian mountains there are some curvy and narrow roads.

7.6: Munich -> Bucharest
Hotel Charter Otopeni, Bucharest airport. 228 Leu for a room with free WLAN, A/C, TV, furniture, actually not bad standard. The bed is a bit hard. Breakfast restaurant open only until 10am. Good shower with plenty of water.
Weather: sunny, 29°C in Munich.

We leave home at 6pm by car and at 6:23pm get into the train to the airport. At 7:40 pm we reach the airport and by 8pm we are checked in. After a dinner in McDonald's we reach the gate at 9:25pm.
The flight is delayed by 15 minutes to 9:45pm, luckily because we are a bit late at the gate.
The plane is an Airbus A200, the crew seems to be Latvian. We take off after 10pm. Only a drink is served because they run out of sandwiches.
Once in Romania we quickly go through passport control. We retrieve the luggage, then get 1000 Lei cash from an ATM.
Taxi drivers initially refuse to bring us to the hotel because it's too close (5 km) to the airport. The fare would be 2 to 3.5 leu per km. In the end we settle on two taxis for 30 Lei each.
We arrive at the hotel at 1:40am and check in. The hotel is ok, but a bit old. We sleep after 2:30am.

8.6: Bucharest -> Brasov
Classic apartment , Brasov.  63 Euro for a nice apartment about 4km from Brasov. This stylish place has two toilets (one with shower), one living-room (with sleeping sofa) and two bedrooms. Free WLAN.  Fully furnished  kitchen, lots of furniture, Clothes washing machine.
Weather: hot and sunny already in the morning. Strong sun. More fresh in Transylvania. About 22°C in the late afternoon. Some clouds.

I get up at 9am, then get ready. The kids are still sleeping, tired of yesterday. We take the 11am shuttle to the airport, then have lunch there.
Shortly before 12pm we reach the arrivals area, but nobody is there from the car rental. Phone calls to the car rental's hotline, but nobody answers. Finally at 12:30pm somebody shows up. They drive us to an office outside the airport. There they tell us that the reservation was cancelled because we were late.
Lots of discussion. Finally we decide to get back to the airport and book another car. At 3pm we have booked a car from Sixt (Ford Kuga) for the insane price of 900 Euro. But at least with this we are allowed to drive to Greece. All other car rentals do not allow this.
Then we have to wait another 40 minutes to get the car and at 4pm we finally drive towards the Peles castle.
It's a quiet and smooth drive on the good roads of Romania. Well mannered drivers.
We arrive to the Peles castle at 6pm and park  the car. Beautiful castle in a beautiful park. We walk a bit in the park, because by now the castle is closed.
Then we go to the city of Sinaia (800m altitude, fresh 22°C), where the castle is located. I didn't know about this place, but it's a huge tourist centre. Beautiful setting in the mountains, nice forests, nicely choreographed streets and buildings. Lots of people, shops, restaurants.
We walk around a bit, buy some food and drinks in a Carrefour supermarket, then have dinner in a nearby restaurant. Cheap food, but poor food quality.
Around 9pm we start driving to Brasov and arrive at 10:05pm.

9.6:  Brasov
Classic Apartment , Brasov.
Weather: sunny with some clouds, a few drops of  rain around 1pm.  Top temperatures around 25-26°C, strong sun.

Day spent in Brasov, visiting the city. I get out in the morning around 10:30am and drive into town. The idea is to bring my mom to the only catholic church in town for mass. We quickly reach the church, but I can't find a parking. We spend 30 minutes driving around Brasov without being able to find a parking.  In the end, at 11:10am I drop off my mom at the catholic church and then continue looking for a parking. I find one finally 10 minutes later about 1km away.

Then I walk back into town and head to the church to rejoin my mom.

Brasov is a town with a very cute historic centre. It has been restored and is full of shops and restaurants. Big pedestrian area in the historic core. Many, many people on this Sunday.

Once in the church I meet again my mom and we get out and do some sightseeing. After some time my brother Albert arrives and joins us. Then I walk back to the car and pick up Shirley and the kids and transfer them to the historic core, where they join Albert and my  mom.

Again I spend another half an hour looking for a parking. There is practically no empty parking available today. They should do something about this, i.e. set up more parkings for cars, because like this a lot of traffic in the city is caused by people looking for a parking.

Around 3pm I join again the others and we have a lunch. Then we walk to the cable car and get to the top of a small mountain south of Brasov (18 RON to go up and down). Nice panoramic view from the top.

Then we get down again and continue exploring Brasov.  Between 6 to 7pm Shirley and the kids have some food in a  KFC restaurant, then take a taxi back to the apartment with my mom.

Albert and I will continue staying in town until after 10pm. We initially walk to the citadel, then have a dinner in a restaurant on Piata Sfatului at 8pm. After 9pm we do some blue hour photography, after 10pm we get back to the hotels.

10.6: Brasov -> Sighisoara -> Sibiu
Casa Adela, Sibiu. 140 RON for an apartment with two bedrooms, a living room, a fully furnished kitchen, bathroom with shower. Washing machine for the clothes, free WLAN, parking for the car. Broken shower (water comes out, but you have to hold the shower head in one hand).
Weather: a mix of sunny, blue skies, clouds, partially overcast and some rain. No rain in the evening in Sibiu. Quite hot (top temperatures around 29°C). Fresh in the evening in Sibiu.

Day spent driving from Brasov to Sighisoara, visiting Sighisoara and then continuing to Sibiu. Very smooth drive on the Romanian roads. Mostly only one lane per side, but not so many slow trucks to overtake.
Sighisoara is cute and has a pretty historic core in the citadel, but is not such a big place. In fact we only spend 3 1/2 hours there, from 1pm to 4:30pm (including the lunch break).
With a stop for shopping food in a Lidl supermarket on the way, we'll reach the apartment in Sibiu by 7pm.
Simple dinner with take-away food from a McDonalds restaurant.
In the evening around 9:30pm I'm in the centre of Sibiu (Piata Mare square) for some blue hour photography.

11.6: Sibiu
Casa Adela, Sibiu.
Weather: overcast in the morning, the sky opens up at about 11am, then sunshine, then after 3pm the sky closes up again and it rains lightly after 6:30pm. Dry again after 8:30pm. More fresh than yesterday due to the cloud cover.

Because it's overcast we spend the morning in the apartment and in fact only get out after 2pm. We buy some groceries in a nearby supermarket, then drive into town and park the car in the Cazarma 90 parking on Piata Unirii. The parking is conveniently located not far from Piata Mare and is relatively cheap (about 2 Lei/hour). From here you are immediately in the pedestrian area of the old town.

We have some late lunch at 3pm in a restaurant, then  continue exploring the  historic centre. It's nice, but not as nice as the one in Brasov and there is less to see than in Brasov.

After 6:15pm we walk back to the car and drive to the Shopping City Sibiu, a shopping mall which happens to be not far from our apartment.

When we arrive around 6:40pm it has already started raining, so our timing has been perfect - we managed to get back into the car just in time before the rain.

The mall is modern and nice, but not comparable to the malls in the Middle East or East Asia, which are  giant places where you can spend almost the whole day. There are several stores, big and less big, and and Auchan supermarket.

Most importantly, there is a big food court on the first floor with a good choice of meals. Several fast food outlets, but also places where you can get better food, such as for instance a choice of salads or vegetable soup.

Around 9pm we drive back to the apartment. Tomorrow we will drive to Bulgaria, but first will change the car with another one.

12.6: Sibiu -> Veliko Tarnovo
Apartment Panoramna Terasa, Veliko Tarnovo. 60 Euro for an apartment with a nice view of the city. Kitchen, shower room, toilet, three bedrooms. The apartment has A/C in every room. WLAN is available, but slow (often so slow to be unusable). Not enough hot water in the shower: for instance Shirley in the evening can't wash her hair, because all the hot water is already finished.
Weather: sunny with a few clouds the whole day. Top temperatures above 30°C, no rain. 22°C in the evening in Veliko Tarnovo.

Day spent getting from Sibiu to Veliko Tarnovo. We manage to leave the apartment around 10:40am, then refuel the car and start driving to the airport parking in Otopeni, where we will return the car and get a new one with which we can go to Greece.

With a couple of stops and some traffic jam we manage to reach the airport parking by 3:15pm. The road from Sibiu across the mountains to Bucharest is for a large section a non-stop urban area with 50km/h speed limit. Really incredible. Only the last 100km before Bucharest are a motorway.

Once at the Airport car rental parking things proceed quite smoothly. We are transferred to a new car, not another Ford Kuga as promised, but an oldish Open Astara (a small SUV).

Then I key in Veliko Tarnovo and this time use the Here navigation app. The stupid app, instead of sending us on the motorway circle surrounding Bucharest, makes us pass through the entire Bucharest metropolis from north to south, with all the endless traffic jams. The route may be shorter, but takes more time.

At the border to Bulgaria things proceed more smoothly than I had expected. Very short queue for the bridge toll (25 RON), then we cross the bridge. On the other side there is just the Bulgarian passport control. Also there, there is a relatively short queue (maybe 5-10minutes).

After that we can proceed. Then the question about the Bulgarian motorway vignette  pops up. Do I need one or not? I check the route with/without motorways with Google Maps and notice it's the same. On the other hand, at the border the cheapest vignette they sell costs the equivalent of 10 Euro - quite pricey. So I decide to skip the vignette for now.

After that it's a smooth drive on roads with little traffic. We reach Veliko Tarnovo at 8:10pm. After a dinner in a restaurant (food is inexpensive and not bad) we get to the apartment.

13.6: Veliko Tarnovo, Arbanasi
Apartament Panoramna Terasa, Veliko Tarnovo.
Weather: sunny, blue sky the whole day.Strong sun and hot with temperatures up to 30°C.

 Today we explore Veliko Tarnovo and the nearby Arbanasi village. Veliko Tarnovo is actually a quite small place and the only really interesting thing is this Tsarevets fortress. The city itself is cute, but is very focused on tourists. For instance the main Piccolo road is full of shops, one retail outlet after the other. Countless shoe shops.

We leave the apartment quite late at 11:45am and walk towards the fortress (700m from the apartment). Group ticket (12 BGN, up to 6 people) for the fortress. The fortress compound is on a hill surrounded by the river. It has been renovated recently or some time ago. Quite big complex, with a newly built or restored church on the top.

At 1:30pm we have a lunch, then walk back to the apartment. There the ladies will take a rest, while I get out again, and this time walk to the Asen dynasty monument. This is a metal monument with the shape of a sword, with a nearby museum. The monument is interesting, and from here you have a good view of the old town of Veliko Tarnovo.

At 5pm I'm back in the apartment. We'll get out again, this time with the car, at 5:30pm and we drive to Arbanasi. This is suggested as a place to visit in the tourist guidebooks. In reality, except for some cute houses, this village has very few attractions.

In the evening we have a dinner in a restaurant. At 9:30pm I'm back at the fortress for some blue hour photography.

14.6: Veliko Tarnovo -> Thassos
Green Velvet hotel, Thassos (Pefkari bay near Limenaria). 38.50 Euro for a small double room with attached bathroom + shower. The room has A/C, a balcony, a cupboard, LCD TV, a fridge, small table + chair, hair dryer. The A/C unit is very noisy. Good location on a bay with a beach (20m from the sea). Free WLAN, but often so slow to be unusable.
Weather: hot and sunny in Bulgaria, top temperatures around 33°C. In Greece it's a mix of cloudy and sunny. Lots of rain on Thassos.

 We leave the hotel around 10:15am and start driving towards Greece. The road is not a motorway, but quite decent. Not so much traffic and no traffic jams. Also, the terrain is not too difficult, i.e. few and not so steep mountain ranges to cross.

After a short break for lunch at 12:15pm we reach the border to Greece at 3:10pm. There is some queue (maybe 10 minutes), but otherwise it's not too difficult to cross into Greece.

On the Greek side we quickly reach the coastal motorway and drive towards the ferry in Keramoti. We reach the ferry harbour around 4:50pm.  Shortly after 5pm we are on the ferry. This leaves at 5:15pm and  lands in Thassos around 5:40pm. When we are about to leave the ferry, it starts raining heavily and we all get wet.

Then we drive along the western coast towards Limenaria, where our hotel is. It's a slow drive on a narrow road full of curves. Nice scenery every now and then.  Finally we reach the hotel around 6:50pm.

The price  of diesel is higher in Greece than in Bulgaria (1.4 Euro/litre vs. 1.19 Euro/litre). Also the price level in general is much higher in Greece than in Bulgaria or Romania. Meals in restaurants for instance cost 2-3 times what they cost in Bulgaria or Romania.

15.6: Thassos 
Green Velvet hotel, Thassos.
Weather: sunny, blue sky with a few small clouds every now and then, quite hot (top temperatures of 31°C).

Around noon I swim a bit in the sea with Natasha. The water is not too cold, but the sea floor consists of stones, so it's difficult to walk into the sea until it's deep enough for swimming.

 Around  3pm we drive to Limenaria, where we have some late lunch in a restaurant. The price level is high. Food here is more expensive than in Germany. But when the bill comes, the owner discounts it by 12%.

After lunch we check a bit Limenaria, then drive to Limenas, the main centre of Thassos on the northern coast.  We'll be there between 5:30pm and 7:45pm.  It's a big tourist centre with a lot of shops (even some kind of pedestrian area with shops).

The food price level also here is high. One  scoop of ice cream costs 1.70 Euro in the first place we check, and 1.50 Euro in the second place we check. Compare that to the 50-70 Euro cents a scoop of ice cream costs in Romania and Bulgaria.

16.6: Thassos
Green Velvet hotel, Thassos.
Weather: same as yesterday, perhaps even a bit hotter. Some thin clouds layer in the afternoon.

As yesterday, we swim in the sea between 12pm and about 2:30pm. Then we have some late lunch after 3pm. After 5pm I drive to a place along the southern coast, the Giola lagoon. It's basically a circular hole in the rock full of seawater, which is used by people to jump into the sea. The access is via a steep road, initially paved, then a dirt track. The last 200-300m are on a private ground (you must order something in a cafe/restaurant to be allowed to park free of charge). Pretty cool place on this late Sunday afternoon. Lots of young people.

In the evening after 8pm we walk into the nearby town of Potos for some shopping and a snack.  This is a nice small town along the coast with its own beach and small harbour. Lots of restaurants, cafes and shops. Lots of tourists. I wonder how this place looks like in the high season in July or August. Must be even more crowded.

17.6: Thassos
Green Velvet hotel, Thassos.
Weather: as yesterday, but with more clouds. Some cloud cover starting at 2pm, lasting for a few hours. Rain in the evening after 11pm.

Another day with the same pattern: breakfast, then swimming between 12:30 pm and 2pm, lunch around 4pm. Then we drive again to Limenas and this time explore the ancient ruins. Those in town are rather unimpressive, but out of town, on a hill at 60m above sea level overlooking the city there are the ruins of an ancient theatre, not sure whether Greek or Roman. To access it, you park the car in town at the eastern end (Karnagio bar) and you take a small trail across the forest. Very picturesque, with views of the sea.

Around 9pm I'm with the kids again in Potos for some food and shopping.

18.6: Thassos -> Plovdiv
Apartment in Plovdiv ("ulitsa Bogomil 47"). 92 BGN for a large apartment with two bedrooms, one living-room, one multi-purpose room with a sleeping sofa, a table and a fully furnished kitchen. Bathroom with shower and separate toilet. Boiler system for hot water, but the shower has enough hot water. Free fast Internet. 1km walking distance from the city centre. The initial impression from the outside is that of a Bruchbude (German for ramshackle building), but somehow the unit is functional. Very old elevator, but still working.
The biggest problem of this place is that only one room (the multi-purpose kitchen one) has A/C. The kids complain that they can't sleep at night because it is too hot.
Weather: sunny, mostly blue sky with sometimes some clouds, hot (top temperatures of 32°C)

Transfer from Thassos to Plovdiv (Bulgaria). We leave the hotel in Thassos at 10:15am, then drive to the ferry in Limenas along the east coast. Very nice scenery, less developed than the west coast. We catch the 12pm ferry to the mainland (trip duration: about 45 minutes, 42 Euro for the car + five people).

Then we drive to the border to Bulgaria. 20 minutes waiting time. The idea would be to stop somewhere in Bulgaria to refuel the car and eat something, but there is no suitable place, so we drive non-stop to Plovdiv, arriving at 4:50pm. On the way we cross a mountain range (very bad road with lots of curves).

The centre of Plovdiv is very nice. Big pedestrian area, nice park. Restoration works ongoing at a main square. We have a late lunch/early dinner around 6pm, then explore a bit Plovdiv.

19.6: Plovdiv
Apartment in Plovdiv
Weather: same as yesterday, sunny, very hot (up to 32°C), a few clouds in the sky, no rain.

I get out at 9:10am for a morning photo session of the old town. Until about 11:20am I'll be exploring the historical city centre of Plovdiv in and around the hill. At the Roman theatre there are works ongoing, probably they are setting up the theatre for a play.

Cobblestone streets, interesting old Bulgarian style buildings, many converted into museums, some into hotels or restaurants. Nice view from the prehistoric fortress at the top of the hill over Plovdiv.

Once back in the apartment I take a rest and after 12pm I get out with the family. We stop at a KFC restaurant for some quick food, then drive into the city centre and park the car in a side street. Then we walk to the mosque and from there slowly up the hill of the historic centre, stopping here and there.

We'll be back at the car around 4:15pm. But the car isn't there. It has been towed away by the police. Turns out that we parked in a place where parking wasn't allowed. In my defence I can say that the street sign showing the parking prohibition has been removed. In fact, when I parked the car I checked a bit if there was any parking prohibition sign around. There is just one at the entrance to the street, and I missed that.

So we call a taxi (4 BGN) and drive to the place where the car is. BGN 66 to retrieve the car (I take cash at an ATM, because I don't have enough cash).

A bit after 5pm we are back in the car and drive to the Plovdiv Mall. Big nice modern mall with a large food court where we'll have some ice cream and a dinner. Cheap excellent pizza for BGN 5 (25cm) or 10 (30cm), where you can choose the ingredients and which is ready in 2 minutes.

In the evening after 9:30pm I'm again in town for some blue hour photography.

20.6: Plovdiv -> Kazanlak -> Bucharest
Unirii apartment in Bucharest. 380 Lei for a nice big apartment. Shiny stone floor, stylish interior, fully equipped kitchen (+washing machine), two bathrooms each with shower, living room, three bedrooms. Only two A/C units (one in the living room, one in one of the bedrooms). Free WLAN. Elegant furniture, decent beds. Excellent location directly on Unirii square, in walking distance of the parliament building. The only problem is that the showers have no shower cabins or curtains - the floor gets wet.
Weather: sunny and hot in Bulgaria with top temperatures above 30°C. 20°C in the evening in Bucharest when we arrive (it has rained a lot).

We leave the apartment in Plovdiv at 10:15am and drive to the nearby supermarket for some food. Then we drive to the Enio Bonchev Rose distillery museum 25km from Kazanlak. This is a rose oil manufacturing location and I was thinking to visit the place.
When we arrive at 11:55am it turns out that nobody is there and if you want to visit the place you have to call one day before to make an appointment. Also, there are no rose fields with roses (probably the season is over). But there are lavender fields.

So we continue driving to Kazanlak. After a stop along the way, we reach the Rose Museum in Kazanlak at 12:43pm. This is a small, but interesting museum showing the history of rose oil production.

After the museum visit we drive to the Laguna restaurant for some lunch. Quite a good restaurant, we stay there until 2:40pm (also because you have to wait quite some time for the food).

We then visit the Thracian tomb (that is the replica of the Thracian tomb). This is located in a park and is quite small inside (circular burial chamber, around 3 metres of diameter; 6 Lev ticket for adults, 2 Lev for kids).

It's 4:10pm when we are done with the tomb. We drive into the centre of Kazanlak for some shopping (rose oil products), then drive to Bucharest.

The road is reasonably good. Only small sections are mountain roads; most of the road is relatively easy to drive. Most of the time it's one lane per direction (only a few sections with two lanes per side). Crossing the border is also relatively fast today. We reach Bucharest at 8:55pm, then lose about 10 minutes to find the correct location of the apartment.

In the evening I buy some food and drinks in a Carrefour supermarket.

21.6: Bucharest
Unirii apartment in Bucharest.
Weather: tropical weather pattern: hot and sunny in the morning, gradual clouds build-up, heavy showers in the afternoon. It first rains at 2:30pm, quite heavily for about half an hour. Then it's sunny again and after 5pm it starts raining again, this time very heavily until almost 6pm. Very strong wind, lots of rain.

We get out quite late (the owner came at 10:10am to collect the payment) at 11:30am and drive to Muzeul Național al Satului „Dimitrie Gusti”, sort of an open air museum with traditional Romanian houses. We arrive there around 11:50am and also find a parking next to the entrance. I walk back to take a picture of the arch, then at 12:15pm we enter into the compound.

This museum contains a number of nice historical houses, but also a lot of not so interesting houses.

At 1:45pm we get out and drive to the former Ceausescu residence. It doesn't take long to get there, but the place is not too interesting and the entrance fee is a bit high (the equivalent of 10 Euro/person).

So we don't go in and instead drive to a petrol station to fill the tank of the car (before returning it). By coincidence this petrol station is near Gara de Nord (the train station), so we check out the left luggage service of the train station. It's reasonably priced (10 Lei for a big luggage, 6 for a smaller bag).

As soon as we enter the train station it starts raining heavily. We wait until the worst of the rain is over, then I take an umbrella and walk back to the car. With the car I drive to the train station (had to park about 300m from the triai station as there was no parking close to it) and pick up the ladies.

We drive to the Sixt car rental station at the Radisson Blu hotel (nice hotel by the way) and at 3:30pm return the car.

It's almost 4pm when we leave the Radisson Blu hotel. Since we are only about 2km from the apartment, we'll spend the next 1:30 hours walking back to the apartment through the historic centre of Bucharest.

Quite a few interesting buildings along the way, but no nice pedestrian area.

Around 5:20pm we are stuck for 40 minutes because of the rain storm.  Only after 6pm we are able to continue walking.

At Unirii square we stop briefly at a KFC restaurant, then walk to a street nearby with many restaurants. There we have a quick dinner, then get back to the hotel.

Overall Bucharest looks like a nice city with enough things to see to keep you busy for at least a couple of days.

22.6: Bucharest -> Munich
Home, sweet home
Weather: hot and sunny. In the morning blue sky, then some clouds build-up and some brief rain around 1:30pm. Then hot and cloudy and sunny again. 16°C and rainy in the evening in Munich.

A bit after 11am we return the apartment to the landlord and check out. On the street we walk to the nearby taxi stand. Since it's only one taxi and the driver shows no interest,we walk to the taxi stand on the opposite side, where we finally find two taxis.

With these taxis we drive to the northern train station (Gara de Nord) and leave the luggage in the luggage deposit (10 Lei for a suitcase, 7 Lei for a small bag).

Then we go to a KFC restaurant in the train station (no A/C, very hot) and the kids have some food (it's around 12pm).

We walk to the metro station (staircase inside the railway station) and buy a group ticket (5 people, 8 Lei). With the metro we go to the Izvor station.

We cross a nice big park and walk to the presidential palace.Turns out that this is closed until July, i.e. we can't visit the interior.

So we walk back to Unirii square. Since it is starting to rain, we decide to get to the Mega Mall. Change of plans as a taxi driver tells us that the AFI mall is much nicer. So we look for a taxi to bring us there.

Difficult to find a honest taxi driver. Most taxis we ask refuse to use the meter. Other taxis are "private" taxis and charge four times the price. What a banana republic.

Finally we settle on a fixed price to the mall with one taxi (25 Lei; Shirley will pay 20 Lei in her taxi).

At 2pm we are at the AFI mall. This is finally a really nice shopping mall. Large variety of shops, from discount level to high quality or international brands. Large food court. Good air conditioning.

At 3:45pm we get out and look for a taxi to the Gara de Nord (to retrieve the luggage). Difficult again to find a taxi. Shirley finds a taxi with no meter. This guy initially charges 25 Lei for the 4km, then accepts 20 Lei after Shirley complains.

My taxi is different. This seems to have a working meter but when we arrive it shows 35 Lei for the 4km. But the price per km should be 3.50 Lei with this taxi, i.e. 14 Lei for the 4km. Heavy discussion. We agree to go to the police. But there is no police here. Driver wants to drive me to a police station, but my mom has already gone out and I can't leave here alone here.

I offer to settle the matter for 20 Lei. Driver asks for 30 Lei, then starts shouting and getting intimidating. He actually looks like somebody who has just left a prison. In the end I give him 25 Lei and leave the taxi.

We retrieve the bags and now the problem is how to get to the airport since we are five people and have lots of luggage and the taxi drivers are totally unreliable.

I check and there is a bus to the airport, but it takes one hour or maybe more.

After some searching we settle on 100 Lei for a big car with a large boot space (not an official taxi). Expensive, but hopefully there won't be more surprises or arguments.

So we drive to the airport and arrive at the airport around 5pm. Plenty of time, since the flight is at 7:25pm.

We quickly check in (short queue at the counters) and then proceed slowly to the gates. At the security check they apparently allow bottles with soft drinks, but these have to be scanned separately.

Expensive food and drinks in the gates area. 8 Lei for a bottle of half a litre of mineral water (in some places even 11 Lei for the same bottle). Sandwiches cost 28 Lei (as much as in Munich airport).

The plane takes off at 7:55pm with half an hour of delay. During the flight there are some turbulences over Bosnia, as we cross some high altitude clouds. Then we lose some more time near Munich (maybe 10 minutes), as the airport is not ready for landing due to the weather. We finally reach the gate at 9:15pm local time. Then we have to wait for a long time for the luggage and reach home after 11pm.

Copyright 2019 Alfred Molon