Monday, May 12, 2014

OMG, we got a MEAL on Tarom, the Romanian Airline…

The (successful!) plan was to gather at the hotel at 2, check out at 3, and at 3:30 “identify” our bags (probably a good thing since I always worry about where my bag is if I can’t see it), then get on the same numbered bus we have been touring in—we had the good fortune (or smarts) to pick Bus #1 way back three days ago. We picked it because the guide seemed nice and we thought we’d enjoy being with him (we did!). By picking Bus #1 for the tours, we also got bus #1 to the airport (of three buses). Given the length of the lines, that was a fabulously wonderful choice. We got to the airport first! First of the three buses and 85 people.

First surprise was that we all had to go through security with ALL our luggage—checked or otherwise. Considering the average age of the group, somewhere north of 65, that was a major bottleneck. We passed that part of the gauntlet, on to the ticket check-in. With no tickets. That’s right, we had NO tickets. We had to hope that Uniworld had accurately transmitted to Tarom Air (no, I’d never heard of them either. Let’s hope you don’t read about us in the news tomorrow!) all our particulars.

So we lined up at the G17 check-in counter and they changed it to H2. Do you remember the scene in Airport (the movie) where they change the gate and gobs of people all run like crazy to the new gate? Only to have to run back when they change it again?  I had visions of the 85 of us doing just that!

There was a new gate agent in our line so it took a long time to get through (some of us didn’t get to the gate until just about boarding time, about one and a half hours after we got through the first security checkpoint). But for us, the good news was that because he was new, he didn’t know that we were only supposed to check one bag each and he checked all four of our bags. So after lining up for security, then lining up to get a ticket (!) and a seat assignment (we were lucky, we got seats together, 14B and C), we then lined up for passport control, then lined up to go through security yet again! I won’t comment on how safe (or unsafe) we feel. At least we didn’t have to take off our shoes!

By this time a beer was definitely in order and we found another couple who had snagged a table for four so we barged in for a beer. After settling all the problems of the world, we headed to the gate which was about three miles away. Well, OK, maybe not quite that far, but we did have to take to take four moving sidewalks to get to gate 210.

All was mostly routine, humdrum airline misery. EXCEPT  after we got onboard, 


We thought, are we sacrificial lambs? What are they fattening us up for? But there apparently was no ulterior motive. Gasp! How can this be? What do they know about profit making that our American airlines don’t know? Now, the meal was not world beating (cheese sandwich on a roll, peanuts, a chocolate and a non-alcoholic drink), but consider: the flight was a scheduled 60 minutes takeoff to landing. That’s similar to an LAX-SFO flight, or PHX-DEN, or NYC-BOS. Can you, in your wildest imagination, believe you might get anything other than a bag of nuts thrown at you during such a flight in the US?

Anyway, we’ve arrived in Bucharest. We definitely arrived. Randy thinks the airport is lower after the landing. Our guide from the airport to the hotel (30 minutes) quite a sense of humor (“When Madonna was here to perform, she came with her boyfriend. We waited outside to see her, but she would rather look at the ceiling in her hotel room.”) coupled with excellent English so we are going to try to get on her bus tomorrow.

For our daughter, Kathy and her husband Ken, the Radison Blu is great! Hopefully the Vienna Radison Blu is equally good.

Tomorrow a tour of Bucharest followed by—FINALLY—arriving at our boat. Uh, ship.

No photos this time.

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