Previous post in this Bucharest series – Bucharest – 24th – 28th March
Sunday 29th March
We’ve spent one full week in Bucharest, Romania.
Yesterday we asked the agent who rented us this apartment if we could stay another 30 days after our original booking ends on 4th April. He said yes, but he increased the daily rate pretty close to double what we’d paid for the first 14 days.
Yes, almost double.
He explained that our first 14 day booking was advertised extra cheap because he needed fast money. So, when we decided to stay longer, this will be paid at the ‘correct rate’ to cover his costs and make him some profit.
We realised, after some apartment hunting online, that a lot of people rent apartments here, then sub-let them through Booking.com, Air Bnb, and other accommodation sites, to people like us, tourists. So, he’s renting it from an agent, and then renting it to us.
At first we said that we weren’t happy about the increase, but that we would pay it. That was last night when we were exhausted.
Time to Move
Today, with fresh eyes, I took another look at Air Bnb and found several flats, with working washing machines and bathrooms which aren’t leaking water all over the floor. I found a great flat that we’ve booked, a bit far from the old town where we are now, but a lot cheaper than this one would cost us if we stayed.
It’s ok, our original guy will just stop renting it from the agent, he shouldn’t have any costs after we leave.
We booked the new place to stay for 6 weeks, and those 6 weeks cost less than the extra 4 weeks we were going to book in this place.
Although it will be a pain to move, we can’t afford to pay a lot for accommodation here. We’d planned to go to Asia, remember? And we had calculated on the next 6 months of accommodation at Asian prices, not European, prices. We are not rich, and like a lot of you right now, we don’t have jobs.
So, on the 4th of April we’re moving!
We’re hoping we’ll be able to get a taxi with no problems on the day, otherwise we’ll have to walk for a couple of hours, with Olivier’s suitcase having one broken wheel (the one he got repaired just before leaving Moscow actually).
A Short Day
Today’s been a quiet day. We got up late, because we lost an hour to daylight savings starting overnight. I also had a couple of hours sleep in the afternoon. I didn’t sleep well last night.
I feel ok now.
So, we’ve got 5 full days left in this little flat. Wait until I show you our new flat, it’s huge!! I only hope that the wifi is good there. It’s an essential right now.
This evening some of our friends from Moscow ‘Skype-called’ Olivier. It was so nice to hear their voices! They were some of the last friends we saw before leaving Moscow last Saturday.
I don’t like keeping in touch by video/Skype/WhatsApp etc. I find it too hard, emotionally. So I prefer just messages and emails. I get photos of my family and small videos of our grandsons from time to time. It’s enough.
If I Skyped my family in Australia every day I’d be a bawling mess after every call. I hate goodbyes, even virtual ones.
No, it’s better for me not to use video calls.
Monday 30th March
Out For a Walk
Today we went for a little walk in our street. One of the officially accepted reasons we can go out is for ‘personal physical exercise’, including the walking of animals.
As we didn’t need anything from the shop, but needed to go outside for a while for some air, we ticked this ‘exercise’ reason on our official ‘going outside’ forms.
Like for our last shopping trip, we took a handwritten copy and also an electronic pdf copy of this form, just to be sure.
And, like our last shopping trip, our documents weren’t checked. We didn’t see one single policeman while we were out.
We put on the form that we’re just ‘exercising’ in our street. Filitti Street is about 100 metres long. So, we decided to walk from one end to the other a few times.
At the end closest to our apartment, after putting our rubbish in the bin on the way, we found sunshine! I can’t remember the last time I had real sunshine on my face. Really. It was like a gift from above.
After standing in the sun for a while, we did a u-turn (a ‘u-ie’ in slang for my students who are reading this), and headed down the street in the other direction.
On one side of the street there are very old buildings which appear to be deserted. However, there are people’s clothes hanging on the upstairs windows, so it’s quite possible that these buildings are used as squats.
Then after these buildings is a lawyer’s office, then our building, then some other offices or shops after that.
And on the other side of the street, is the hotel we stayed in on our first night, and then some apartments, a mini-market, and some other buildings.
So, we wandered down the street, trying to stretch our limbs, which have been very, very inactive over the past week. My body feels like it’s 100 years old right now.
There was a cat in the street. Did I already mention that we’ve seen an awful lot of stray cats here since we arrived? This cat had made a hole in a rubbish bag that some irresponsible person had left outside their front door. It seemed that the cat had found something tasty inside, and was eating it directly from the bag. It didn’t make too much mess, but now that the bag has a hole in it, it’s going to be difficult for someone to pick it up and take it to the bin.
And then we arrived at the other end of the street. We found a bench in the sun, so we sat for a while and watched a few people going past. One guy had a huge Labrador, who popped over to our bench to see who we were.
There were a few people outside, walking past us. Most of them without masks, one woman was almost definitely homeless, young people, old people, and in-between people. All trying to get some sun and ‘exercise’ while it was still relatively warm outside.
We Live in a Dungeon
Then we went home. Back to the dungeon, which is what it seemed like after being outside under the sun and in the fresh air. The air in our apartment was very stale compared to the outside air. We opened all the windows! Well, there are only 2 windows, but it helped anyway.
Our days are spent online. For me, it’s mostly Facebook, and replying to messages and emails from friends and family. I also check expat forums to find out what’s happening here in Bucharest. Olivier spends most of his online time watching music documentaries, as well as videos about crime – to help him with the writing of his 3rd novel (his first one is published, second one has been written, and the third one is spinning around in his head. If you’re a French speaker you can order his first book here).
What else? Well, we decided to take another ‘personal exercise’ excursion in the early evening, before it got dark and cold. Just to get some more fresh air into our lungs. It was just another small walk in our street – we made use of the same ‘permission slips’ that we had prepared for the earlier walk.
There’s nothing to report from this walk. Just a few people in the street and some stray cats looking for food.
Party in the Old Town
In the evening, we had a party! Of course, it was just Olivier and I, but we put on some music by our favourite Russian rockabilly band, our friends the Alligators, and drank some wine, ate some food, and talked about our lives.
I cried. Of course, wine facilitates that, even in good times. But I missed our friends so I had a little cry.
I ended up in bed, at 3.00am, Olivier asleep beside me, watching a documentary on why race horses can run so fast – fascinating!
Tuesday 31st March
Due to the late night, and the effects of the wine, we got up quite late today. And, as a result, we had a quiet day at home.
Washing, exercising and eating
I did some hand washing of some of my clothes – the washing machine door still won’t open, so we’ve given up on that idea. Hopefully we’ll have a fully functioning washing machine in our new apartment.
We did some stretching exercises in the kitchen, a couple of times today because our bodies are starting to seize up!
And apart from that, I’ve just been sitting here on my little white stool in the kitchen pretending to be doing something useful while surfing Facebook. I don’t really like Facebook, it’s evil, and I’m not even sure it’s a necessary evil, but it’s keeping friends together right now so I guess we can continue using it as a tool for communication.
Olivier’s been doing most of the cooking for the past couple of days. I don’t really know why I haven’t done any. Maybe he’s got more delicious ideas than I have. We’re almost out of fresh fruit and vegetables, and we’ve decided not to buy any more until we’re in our new apartment on Saturday.
So, now we’re looking at 3 days of tinned lentils, pasta, and bread. We’ve been eating really well since we arrived here. In Moscow, we tried to eat well, but we had very difficult schedules, teaching sometimes in the evenings so not getting home until 10pm sometimes. We weren’t able to have a fixed eating schedule then, but now we do, and I think it’s much healthier.
So, it’s the end of March already. I wonder what April has in store for us.