Today we trekked across the rest of Romania and on into Bulgaria and this was to take us much of the day. Checking out of the hotel proved to be a bit tricky when the attendant said she couldn't take credit card as she had never used the machine before and our 3 pounds worth of Romanian money wasn't going to cover the bill. The standoff was resolved when she phoned up her supervisor and was walked through the operation. Worrying after putting my pin in once she realised that breakfast hadn't been added to the bill and just unplugged the machine mid-transaction to cancel it - I'll be checking my bill when I get home! Payment eventually made we walked through a small snow storm to the station and had a little time to grab a coffee before jumping on train 29.

We had a seat in an 8 berth compartment and shared it with 5 young ladies and someone older accompanying them. We got chatting to of them for a rare insight into the locals view of Romania. She was hoping to study abroad and would be taking her Cambridge university entrance exams shortly and clearly they were all relatively wealthy compared to most people we had seen. They all seemed to understand English but out chatty translator was very good, commenting that she had started learning via the cartoon network TV station. She was keen to point out that while poor Romanians weren't stupid and indeed she was very astute. According to her the period of Communism had done much to damage the economy and the country had been set back 50 years and was still recovering. Interestingly the country suffers from a lack of people in the more manual trades, plumbers and carpenters and the like. While Romania gains from being part of the EU it also means that it suffers from a migration of workers away from the country.

At Bucharest we said goodbye to our fellow travellers as they headed onto their final destination and set about killing the hour before our connecting train to Bulgaria. Our guidebook had little to say about the highlights of Bucharest, something confirmed by the chatty guy in the ticket booth at  Sighisoara 'church on the hill' and so we did not plan to stop here. Train 30 set out to confuse us. The electronic board had the only departure from platform 2 to be our train heading to Sofia and indeed the board at the end of the platform confirmed this. So far so good. The train itself declared its destination to be Istanbul and the first ticket collector didn't recognise our destination suggesting that perhaps this wasn't our train. With the minutes ticking by we tried a second official looking chap who instantly waved us on board and showed us where our reserved seats were. This and the fact that the carriage had the right number on it gave us a little confidence we might be heading in the right direction but certainty was a little way off.

We shared a 6 person berth with two other passengers. The first was a young lass at University in Strasburgh who was going to visit her boyfriend in Istanbul and had decided to take a series of back to back overnight and day trains to make the journey more exciting. Armed with a bag of a dozen apples, some biscuits and jam she seemed to be doing well so far but did admit to catching a flight home which is fair enough given the train hours she was putting in on travelling out. The other passenger was an older gentleman originally from Liverpool who had spent many years living in America. It seemed he had travelled just about everywhere and regularly has two trips away a year for a good number of weeks. Looking at his guide book with the many post-it notes hanging out he gets busy when he travels. Our train was a bit late leaving and even when we got going it was very slow, often stopping. It is a little disheartening when going along side roads to see even lorries overtaking the train, it was heart breaking when the guy walking his dog made better progress than we could manage.

Despite our appalling progress initially things did pick up and we made it to the border. The border guard barely glanced at the passports from within the EU, but did refuse us a stamp. On seeing an American passport he promptly walked away with it and jumped off the train. Concern rose a little when the train started moving but it had found it's way back on board. Tony, the American chap, jumped off at Veliko Tarnova with us late in the evening and it's a good job too. We had hoped to get some money at the station having no Bulgarian currency, but there was next to nothing at the station except a tout very keen to sell us a hotel, trip to town, probably anything. Luckily Tony had changed some money so we could jump into one of the official looking taxis to head into town. Every sign we had seen in Bulgaria was in Cyrillic and sadly this is probably what we should have used to write down the address of the hotel as the driver struggled to make sense of the address or the name of the hotel. Some shoulder shrugs later we called the hotel and with mobile phone in hand he drove us there. In fact the hotel was on the main road and had the name clearly displayed outside so I assume the driver was haggling for his commission on the phone, especially as he continued to talk on the phone after we arrived. Perhaps our booking ahead had dented his fee but we got the meter rate for the ride all the same.

After checking in quickly we walking into town with Tony to find some food. He had asked at reception whether there would be anything open to which the receptionist had said that places opened as long as the customers stayed. In which case most of them had gone home for an early night as everywhere seemed to be shut. We found one bar open and were pointed upstairs for food and were pleasantly surprised to find the choice of food was wider and the cost lower than we had found in Romania and decided to celebrate this fact with a beer before heading back to bed tired.