Sunday, September 5, 2010


This morning, I got up relatively early and left my apartment in search of community and fellowship. Not being the type of person to be comfortable with going alone into a bar or club to meet someone, I decided to go the opposite route: church. I did some searching online yesterday, and found the Bucharest International Church- with a service in English and one following in Romanian. The perfect way to meet ex-pats and English-speaking Romanians, right? So I planned out my trip to the church, leaving at around 8:50 for the 10:00 service. I figured that I could just wait somewhere if I was too early, or maybe even go in to meet some people.

Here is the time frame for the next three and a half hours:

8:50: Leave apartment, lock doors, and ride the lift down to the main floor
8:51: Accidently open the interior doors too early and can’t open the elevator door. Ride up to the first floor and then back down again.
8:52: Leave the apartment building; walk to the metro station and down the stairs
8:59: Buy a 2-ride ticket for the metro, enter station, and walk down to platform
9:05: Get onto the metro and sit down, listening intently for stop
9:07: Approached by man in official looking uniform, holding hand out for something
9:09: Repeat the phrase “I don’t speak Romanian” (in Romanian) approximately 23201 times
9:11: Kindly interrupted by kind English-speaking native of Bucharest, who says that without proof of the ticket, a fine is owed
9:12: Show officer wallet with fewer lei that the fine required, watches as kind citizen and officer argue
9:13: Tell kind citizen it is my third time on the metro and I didn’t know the rule
9:15: Watch as officer walks away, scowling
9:19: Listen for stop, and get off at the next station, which happens to sound exactly like the intended destination
9:20: Walk up stairs to street level, try desperately to orient to location, and head west towards church
9:30: Realize that church should be right about… HERE
9:31: Wander back to metro station and try again
9:45: Realize that church should be right about… HERE
9:47: Wander back to metro station and realize that I got off three stops too late in all the confusion with the ticket officer
9:48: Walk down the stairs to the platform, KEEP MY TICKET
9:50: Board metro going back south
9:54: Get off of metro, ascend stairs, reorient myself to location, and head west towards church
10:00: Realize that church should be right about… HERE
10:05: Back at metro station, decides to attempt ONE MORE street.
10:07: Caught in swell of old and fragrant Romanian people, pushed up stairs towards old looking church
10:10: Seated in Romanian Orthodox Church, surrounded by elderly Romanian women
12:15: Stumble back to metro, buy one ticket, and descend to platform
12:20: Disembark at the correct metro stop, ascend stairs, and walk towards apartment
12:25: Arrive at home, get on shaky lift, ascend to fourth floor
12:26: Unlock apartment, walk inside, and collapse on the futon
12:27: Begin to process

Everything here is more exhausting. The THOUGHT of doing that again is more exhausting than I can even describe. Every once in a while, though, the effort is really worth it.


  1. You WOULD have this broken down minute by minute.

  2. aw, darling. i feel your pain. paid a 28 E fine on the tram once to a similar catch-you-if-I-can cop... and a 12 E one on the train, where you must not only have your ticket, but have punched it in a timeclock before boarding the train. weirdness. you'll get used to all the rules soon, and going out won't be so exhausting. also, you WILL learn your stops :)

  3. That is SO wierd. In all the 25 years that I've lived in Bucharest and used the Metro (quite often I would add) never ever have I been asked to show my ticket. There are tens if not hundreds of discarded tickets right after the barrier because once you've reached 0 remaining fares it's practically useless.

    Also, try reading the station names (it's easier if you think of them as written in IPA) and looking on the subway map ;-)