A Trabby painted with scary faces and the like, which looks not to have been taken out of its parking spot in a while.
In a city that lately has become paralyzed by traffic, Bucharest’s subway or metro (Metroul Bucureşti in Romanian) is by far the most reliable form of public transport. Built in 1979, the metro is cheap, safe, and relatively clean. Unfortunately it doesn’t cover all parts of the city, although they are working on extending the network which at this moment has 4 lines and 49 stations. The city center however is in my opinion very well served with stations in most of the big squares. Trains run between 5.00 am and 11.30 pm; during peak hours they run at about 3-10 minutes, while off-peak (late at night and on Sundays) one has to wait more than 10 minutes. Tickets can be bought at the booths inside the stations; a ticket for 2 rides cost about $0.85 / €0.60 while a ticket for 10 rides costs about $2.70 / €1.96. There is also a one month pass which costs about $8.4 / €6. The metro can be crowded in the morning and in the afternoon hours when people commute to and from work but during the rest of the day is pretty empty. Metro stations are not very well signposted, but with the help of a map it’s not hard to get around. All trains have maps posted inside the wagons. Today’s photograph shows the Northern Train Station subway stop.
One more picture from the Northern Train Station and I promise to move on 🙂 This colorful panels show a part of the train schedule for this year. To the left we have departures and to the right we have arrivals. “Sosiri” stands for “Arrivals”. The colors indicate the types of trains. We have 4 types of trains in Romania: “Personal” (blue coded) a sort of commuter train that stops in all stations, therefore it is very slow, “Accelerat” (red coded) a bit faster than “personal” trains and with fewer stops, “Rapid” (green coded) a fast train which stops only in major cities and “Intercity” (yellow coded) also a fast train with stops only in major cities.
Today’s picture is also showing the Northern Train Station and I thought I’ll write a few more words about it. To be honest it’s hard for me to appreciate this railway station at its true value. As train stations go, in my travels I’ve seen better and I’ve seen worse. I never felt unsafe here but then I’m Romanian and I speak the language, which helps through all the hassles. It’s not a pretty train station but I believe that it improved a lot in the last ten years. It’s cleaner and it has more facilities but there’s definitely room for improvement. For some reason it feels like an old fashioned railway station rather than a modern one. There are lots of stands and kiosks, selling newspapers, food and drinks as people like to stock up before they board. There are also some fast food places including a Mickey D which is “the place” to go to the bathroom 🙂 so much so that at some point you needed a code to open the door to the bathroom, code which was given to you when you bought something. I don’t know if it helped much because, of course, many people would hold the door open for you. Until some time ago they had this system where, unless you had a valid ticket, you had to pay to enter the train station. It wasn’t much, just a few cents, but it was a hassle if you didn’t have the right change. They did it so they can screen out the beggars and the homeless, which somehow found their way in anyway. I think they gave that system up because I didn’t have to pay the last few times I was at the train station.
If you come to Bucharest by train, then most likely this is where your railway journey ends and your exploration of the city starts. The Northern Train Station (Gara de Nord in Romanian) is the main train station in Bucharest. It receives both national and international traffic with daily trains to Budapest, Vienna, Sofia, Bratislava, Chişinău, Belgrad, Prague, Venice etc. It was originally called Gara Târgoviştei after an adjacent road formerly called “Târgovişte Road” (Calea Târgoviştei in Romanian), Calea Griviţei today. The Northern Train Station opened to public in 1872.