Day 4, travel from Bucharest to Sofia by daytime train, leaving Bucharest Nord at 12:30 and arriving Veliko Tarnovo at 19:16 and Sofia central station at 22:00. It’s a tight connection in Bucharest, the Ister usually runs on time but I recommend staying the night in Bucharest and traveling on to Sofia on day 4. There is no catering as this is just one Romanian Railways through carriage with 2nd class seating only in 6-seater compartments, so bring your own supplies of food, water, and beer or wine. However, it’s a scenic and interesting trip, so enjoy the ride. Expect an arrival an hour or so late.
We followed Mark Smith’s advice and spent the night in Bucharest, giving me a chance for a morning jog. The route I pick is down and back the embankment of a small canal that runs into the heart of the city from Morii Lake.
Jogging through Bucharest I get the sense that the transition from a communist dictatorship to a capitalist democracy has not been an easy one. The canal serves no navigational purpose but seems to have been built as a public park or green space, complete with small lovely gardens and playgrounds along the way.
This beauty is offset by the urban decay that starts just across the street from the canal. Many of the buildings there are covered with graffiti and a few car windows have been smashed last night.
There is even a deserted power plant just to the south that dominates the skyline.
Stray dogs are everywhere I go this morning but they do not bother me. I do not encounter any other runners on the canal path and the looks I receive from the people I pass confirm that I am out of place.
Three lanes of high speed traffic fill the road next to the canal and it is rush hour. Just ahead a dog starts to cross. The first two lanes slow, but the lane closest to me does not. I am certain she will be hit and turn away. I wait for the sound of impact but there is none.
Somehow she has survived and is now in front of me, running slowly. I follow awhile and then turn back, happy my jogging partner is okay.