On People / The Night Train to Bucharest (Part II)

If you are a friend of mine on social media you probably know, but otherwise you might not. After a day of exploring I came back to the hostel and my roommate Seth and I went to get a little dinner and have a few of drinks. I popped back and got a load of laundry on and we wondered whether to go out and get a few more drinks. We decided we would. This would turn out to be one of the worst decisions of my life.

We went into a bar in the Old Town near many other touristy places. After some cheap drinks and free drinks I cannot recall anything, a total blackout. The next thing I remember is being in a taxi and being aware that I didn’t have my phone or my wallet and panic set in. Back at the hostel and in an apparently zombie like state I seemed to have managed to not pay the taxi driver, which I feel bad about. Luckily I hadn’t taken my passport out with me.

The next day I was aware I had lost my phone and wallet but perhaps they had been mislaid. I was feeling on edge and had only some cash Seth gave me that he owed me from the previous night, before it all turned sour. In the room and barefoot I trod on something sharp. I didn’t think much more of that until I realized my foot was bleeding, I recalled a roommate’s fragrance bottle had broken. Not a bad injury but with bruises and a shattered sense of confidence it was turning into the worst day of my life. The cash I had would barely buy me breakfast.

In another one of those huge contrasts in my darkest hour a new roommate arrived who was a light. Leanne bought me breakfast and some other bits of food and was one of the kindest and friendliest people I have met in my entire life. She has so far kept refusing to be repaid. Pay it forward, she says. I’ll certainly remember this for a long, long time and I just hope I can one day be at least as half as helpful to someone else.

I spent the day trying to remember what had happened to little effect. When the bar opened at 8pm I went in to ask if maybe I had lost my stuff there. They suggested I had left with my stuff. The next day I went to the police, accompanied by Mihail, a hostel worker who gave up three hours of his own time off shift to accompany me to the station and act as a translator. It turns out the police had several cases open against this bar; it was becoming clearer that I probably had not simply ‘lost’ my phone and wallet.

I cancelled my bank cards and was told that suspicious activity had been blocked. I was told that attempts to use it at this bar had occurred at a time when I knew I had been back at the hostel. At least it seems like I haven’t been robbed of a considerable sum of money. Extra annoyances followed during the day, I had been locked out of my email account due to something suspicious, presumably through my phone, and the way to verify myself to get my account access was to have a code sent to…my phone. Luckily I could still use social media and I had my laptop in the hostel, so I managed to plan my exit from Romania on this.

I would like to stress here how good the hostel has been. The hostel is a clean and pleasant place to stay and would have been one of the best hostels I had stayed at regardless of the incident, especially with staff that had been incredibly welcoming and helpful. I had needed to email them to change a booking date before I had arrived when I realised I had booked to be there on the same night as the overnight train. They had no issue moving my booking to account for my miscalculation. In the aftermath of the incident however, they were more helpful than I could ever have hoped for. Not only did I get accompanied to the police station but there was never really any question of extending my stay, they immediately offered to extend my stay by several days. Mihail had even looked beyond these few days and provisionally arranged a room in another hostel he knew of for when the hostel had no free beds.

The kindness of people has been touching beyond words. I shouldn’t forget of course the kindness of my family too who have sent me money and my brother who arranged a plane ticket. My ordeal wasn’t fully over when I arrived at the airport. The plane arrived late; there was a technical fault, and a thunderstorm. We left two hours late. But Monday night on the 24th of July, I touched down back on British soil for the first time since 1st June for my unscheduled break. I will look to head back out on my trip sometime in early August. For the moment I will rest and regroup, and think of all the good times I have had and all the good people I have met. Thank you all.



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