I was taking a leak on a train from Iași to Cluj when it dawned on me that there had to be a better way to travel long-distance across Romania. The thought struck me then and there because, while one hand was busy aiming my Johnson roughly at the rim, the other was holding the sliding door shut so that the vomiting passenger trying to barge her way in couldn’t enter. There’s no adrenaline rush quite like the one you get when you’re using your strength to not get puked on. Fortunately, our nauseated traveler gave up and purged all over the stairs in the gangway connection, as it was clear that I was in full Hulk mode and handily winning the door tug-of-war.
Tasteless as it was, when my friend and I got off the train, we stood in front of the stairs and watched people slip down the puke-covered steps with sardonic grins on our faces. That was the last time I ever took a Romanian train.
To be fair, it takes a lot to disgust me, and the episode in the vestibule wasn’t the only chaos that ensued on that train. For instance, there was a cretin across the aisle from us who didn’t realize that his earphones, which were tucked snugly in his ears, weren’t actually plugged into his phone while he blasted manele for a few hours. And then there were the half-wit drunkards who entered the train at Suceava and (rightly) raised hell because people were sitting in their seats. Actually, we were the ones in their seats, but in our defense, we arrived to find others in our seats, too. There’s no breathing down your neck quite like that which would fail a breathalyzer test.
These experiences and so many others can be yours too if you travel by train in this otherwise blessed country. Unfortunately, I’m just not cut out for Romanian trains. Call me a nancy millennial, but I want something faster and cheaper than a train with the added bonus of not having an hourly crisis that involves vomit, manele, and/or alcoholics.
That’s where BlaBlaCar comes in. It’s essentially a long-distance ridesharing network that works a bit like Uber. On the website you plug in your locations and then find a driver leaving at the best time for you.
Here are some anecdotes I can tell you from my own experience:
- Younger drivers usually speak English, so that’s convenient.
- Older drivers usually don’t, so it’s good for practicing Romanian if that’s your thing.
- It’s fast and cheap—for example, I got from Bucharest to Cluj in about six hours for 60 lei.
- Check the make and model of the car when choosing a ride because sometimes the vehicle will be a huge freight truck that would make for a miserable ride.
- Beware of drivers who set loose departure windows if you’re on a schedule.
- It’s not the best form of transportation for women traveling alone, for obvious reasons.
- Sometimes passengers show up with friends out of fear that the driver may be a shady bastard. It’s up to you whether to do this.
- It’s good to sort out where exactly you’ll get picked up and dropped off at. Sometimes the driver will technically drive you to a city but not go anywhere near the center, so you may have to share a cab with the other passengers to get exactly where you want to go, which increases costs and the amount of time taken.
- Nobody has come remotely close to vomiting on me through BlaBlaCar, which is a plus.
So that’s pretty much it!