I hate train stations. No matter what I do, every time there’s a mad dash to the right place. I arrived 45 minutes early, and asked at Information where my train might be.  Track 7. Great. At 9:25 am a train pulled in. When a conductor stepped off the train, I showed her my ticket, and asked if this was my train. She said no, and waved me away.

As I waited  on the bench, wondering how long until the right train, the train number  scrolled across the display on the car in front of me. IR1621, Vagon 3.  “Hmm”, I thought, “that’s familiar.” Yup, my train. The conductor meant, “Not this car”, instead of “Not this train”. This train has two cars with a bicycle painted on the side. The entrance onto the train are about  five feet off the ground, I struggled a bit, and then someone helped get my bike onboard.

Rapidly evident why there was no room the day before, seven other cyclists piled onto the train shortly thereafter. I ended up riding with a couple from England with no bikes, who were renting bikes for a week’s vacation in the Carpathians. After they helped off-load my bike in Brasov, I headed the hostel, selected for the on-line ratings, before I’d read the directions to the hostel, in part: “straight ahead until you reach Prato restaurant. Enter the gang between Prato Restaurant and Sex Shop Store, first door on the right.” Could be interesting.

While I’d selected the hostel in part for the bicycle storage, the storage is more like the lobby. Nonetheless, JugendStube Hostel receives one of the much-vaunted Rick Steeves “Awesome” hostel ratings. The hostel is well-lit, open, well-decorated, with a kitchen, small shared rooms, a semi-private bath, and a friendly and welcoming staff. Settled in, I made my usual walking tour of the town.

I met Hayden that night, an Aussie just finished studying in Sweden, who asked me most of the questions from the FAQ. I also met Andrew, another Aussie (soon to be Brit). We had Chinese for dinner and spent the night at a nearby bar talking. After a night of discussing the ins and outs of cycle touring, they asked if they could cycle with me the next day, renting bikes. Great!


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