Tuesday, October 7

Day 40-Bucharest

Back to Bucharest and what a big day it was! Today marks the end of my travels in Eastern Europe. I have spent only a short time in this area, but it feels to me that I have already seen so much. Let me share a few statistics regarding this last month:

Days traveled:27 Cost per day:$82
Miles traveled:4230 By train:3860
Countries visited: 10
UNESCO World Heritage sites:9 National Parks, etc:5
Country with cutest girls:Romania Girls kissed:0
Sleeps shared with strangers:9 Restaurant meals:<10
Hours spent waiting:countless Hours spent walking:countless

Pretty good trip so far. What was particular about this portion of my journey was, of course, the number of countries and currencies I would see in such a short time, but also that I would cover the great majority of distance by train. And for this I am grateful. The trains here, of all types and conditions, have taken me through an unbroken countryside only seen by rail. The vast fields of corn and flax, trackside stands of elderberry, rosehip, and wild plum, the rolling hills covered with stands of beech, chestnut, ash and fir, all in their autumnal glory, the remote limestone and sandstone gorges cut by rushing rivers, they all blend into one long scene of "quıet" delight. Those livıng near the tracks lead simple lives and I was lucky to witness whole families harvesting huge fields of potatoes and corn, with nothing but handtools and horse drawn wagon. Old weathered faces and dirty Gypsy kids would occasionally look up to watch me pass. I was oddly comforted by these scenes.

Also of great comfort and delight was an impromptu visit by Shaggy Doc, who, at no little expense, flew out to Bucharest to wish me bon voyage for the next leg of my trip. We shared a few beers and a few tales and reconfirmed that, by our shared love of the greater world, we are truly kin.

Farewell then to Europe, tomorrow I will arrive in Istanbul, "City of World's Desire", and there I hope to find yet another kind of magıc.

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