What do you do when you’re lost or confused in a foreign place? My favorite thing to do- sit down and cry like a baby. Just sob huge self pity sobs in some foreign train station. And when you’re done you can pick yourself up, and figure your shit out. Possibly you won’t even have to if some random stranger decides to take pity on you and try to help you. This happens more frequently if you’re a girl. No one likes to see single lost girls crying. If you’re a guy though they’ll probably just stay far away from you. People don’t like to approach crying men. Eventually you’ll get it out of your system and start to figure out what the hell you’re doing. I’ve been lost many places, but I’ve never stayed lost. If you keep trying you’ll eventually find something.
Recently I was in the train station from hell. It is the train station in Arad Romania, and I have learned most travelers who have had a train change here have at least been tempted to cry. It is tiny, completely under construction, and almost no one speaks English. I got off my train here, and attempted to make a seat reservation for my next train. All that I accomplished was having an asshole Romanian man cut me in line, and then having the Romanian ticket agent yell at me in Romanian over the construction going right on behind me. A man tried to translate for me, but even in Romanian she didn’t understand my request. I later learned that the tiny shitty train I was about to ride how no sort of seat reservations. It was a free for all. I sat down in a seat wanting to cry and already just done with Romania even though I had just entered it. I let myself have my half hour of self pity, and then I went and found my train. Even crossing to my platform was a difficulty. There was no where to cross and finally I found you had to walk to the end of the platform and then climb across the tracks to the next platform. Arad really has their shit together.
The best way to find your train is to point at trains or tracks and ask everyone you can “Timisoara?” Hopefully someone will know the answer eventually. In my case I found an equally confused German family (the father turned out to be Romanian), and we let the dad figure the rest out for the lot of us while the mother decided to mother hen me. You can generally point at things anywhere and ask if this is what you’re looking for, or where something is. Once you find someone going the same way you just hold onto them for dear life and follow. There’s ease in numbers, and sometimes you have to weld yourself to others when you are a solo traveler.
I made it to Timisoara though. And my hostel was gross. Friendly, but gross. Showers that looked like they’d never been cleaned, and bed sheets that were so much smaller than the bed that you were just sleeping against the old vinyl mattress. Oh shit Romania was not having a good start. But then nice things happen. I found a rose garden that was filled to the brim with roses and I sat and just read. Then I found this newly built children’s playground and played like a child. I climbed rope structures, and waited for water to gurgle up and touch my hands out of the fountains with delight. I listened as gypsy music floated up over the wall of a nearby building while I spun round in some sort of spinny chair. I found that there is good to be had even when you’re having a bad time.
Then I went to a street cafe and felt like a king as I had milkshakes and lemonades while sitting on a comfy couch seat. By the evening I was in a good mood, and my hostel decided to take us out drinking. We went to a very Romanian backyard bar where we got eaten alive by mosquitos and yelled at by the bartender for something to do with moving a log seat from one table to another. We never really got why. Between bars our guide took us to a playground, and we all played like children piling onto the seesaw, and climbing up and down the fortress. By the end of the day I remembered what I love about traveling. And then I got on another shitty Romanian train.