Leaving Vama Veche
Bulgaria Here we Come!
We have done our research, found out bus times from the official website, enjoyed our time in Vama Veche, and Romania, but now it was time for us to leave. The Bulgarian border is not far away as we had discovered whilst walking along the beach. The bus station was on the main road through town, and we were set to go.
Checking out, we made our way there in plenty of time. Just no bus. Asking at the shop over the road, we were told that we had the wrong time, and it would be here at 11:30. OK, we can wait. Still no bus. On asking again, we got help from an English speaker passing by. Apparently they had misunderstood and thought we wanted to go back to Mangalia. There was no bus to Bulgaria! We are on one of the main routes into/out of the country and there are no buses! So we had a few options, walk to the border and try to hitch. Not the best solution, catch a bus back to Mangalia and catch another one from there.. This is a bit frustrating but the safest option. Back in Magnalia we were at the right bus station (basically outside the hotel and supermarket but it was the bus station!). There was a sign up saying Balchik in Bulgaria, so we knew we were in the right spot. There had been one in Vama as well, so we asked around. The answers were invariable “Just catch the bus” Asking the times, no one knew. This was frustrating, and there was no help available. We had gone from 600m from the border to 11km and still no chance on crossing. We were presented with two options now. Go back to Constanta, or strike inland to Negru Voda. A bit risky, but another main route and it even has the train line going through it. Seems good. We just needed to get to a different bus station! So a taxi to the bus station with a slight intentional misunderstanding. The taxi driver was going to take us all the way to Negru Voda. And I wonder why I do not like taxis.
So we were at another hick ville bus station. Just the side of the road. We had no idea on when the buses were and if what we were planning was possible or not. There was a bus at 2pm, so only another small wait.
The bus took the back roads and was packed. There was standing room for us with our luggage at the back, and after people started getting off, we could get a seat. What has amazed me in this country is that people do not like sharing seats. There was an empty one now on the bus, so I asked to sit there. It was the window (If you sit on the aisle there is less chance of someone wanting the other seat) so he got up to let me sit down. Then continued standing! Weird.
Negru Voda is a tiny town in the flat plains of Romania. The only thing that sticks up out of the skyline is the grain silos. The other thing is that the valleys open up out of nowhere. Flat agricultural land as far as the eye can see, suddenly yawning open to reveal a deep valley with streams running through. This all made up for the town.
There is nothing here. The grain silos are important for the railways, but there are no passenger trains! As we were dropped off at the railway station this was quite easy to find out. There are also no buses! We are now only 6km from the border, but well inland, and still no way to get across. This is getting annoying. There was a couple of nice people that were going to organise a way to the border with a police man, but we had no idea on if this was to the border, to the next town in Bulgaria, or even if it would cost us anything. In Vama Veche the taxi driver wanted to charge us 450Lei to go to the next town in Bulgaria. It was only 5km away from there, and we have no idea on how far it would be from here.
So, another mini bus back to Constanta! Now we were about 60km from the border, but there is a big bus station and a major train station. Trying the train station first, we were still out of luck. The info booth refused to provide any info, and said to go to the ticket office. We went there, and found there were no trains. She said try the bus station. Back outside, we asked around. Eventually after asking a lot of people that knew nothing, we found out that we were not at the bus station after all. It was full of mini buses,buses to Bucharest, buses south, buses north, but apparently not the bus station! At least it was only just around the corner.
So to recap the day, we started off 600m from the border, travelled close to 200km to finnish about 60km from the border, in the wrong direction! So we didn’t make it to Bulgaria today, but at least we know about the bus tomorrow, and it should not be a problem. We hope.