In a hurry and not much time -- just letting the world know that we arrived well and survived (with some dignity) our first encounter with the famous hustlers of Bucharest (them being the luggage carriers at the Gara du Nord). We found an internet cafe just around the corner from where we live - with an astonishingly fast connection! - so expect some more soon! [Doug here] We took the overnight train, which leaves Belgrade around 6 pm, crosses the border at about 8:30, and then rolls on through the night to arrive in Bucharest at 7:15 the following morning. Our experiences of the ride were... varied. After the border formailites, everybody went into their cabins and it got very quiet. I leaned out the window for a little while, looking at the stars and watching the vast empty plain of the Banat go by in the darkness. Then I climbed into the upper berth, read a good book for an hour (_Dark Star_ by Alan Furst, and thank you Carlos for recommending it), lay awake for a little while listening to the sound of the train, and finally fell into a deep and healing slumber. Natasha, our baby sitter, had the next compartment to herself. Unfortunately, it was her first time leaving Yugoslavia, /and/ her first time in a sleeper car, and I guess it was all just too strange; poor Natasha didn't fall asleep until far into the night and was distinctly woozy today.
Alan slept for a while on a sort of nest that we made on the floor with towels and his baby blanket. Then he woke up in the wee hours, stood up and poked the person on the lower berth (Claudia) to give him some attention. Having awakened her, he then proceeded to keep her up for over an hour by sort of climbing over her. (This is an _extremely_ annoying habit that he has. More on this later, perhaps.) Eventually, he went back to sleep. It must have been restful and pleasant, because in the morning he was perky and cheerful. Claudia had trouble falling asleep. The breeze from the partly open window, the little green light over the door, everything seemed to conspire to keep her awake. The unborn baby kept kicking her. She had a touch of heartburn. The train kept blowing its whistle and startling her out of a doze. Then finally when she did sleep, someone started poking her... So, at the end of the trip it was 50-50: two alert and well-rested males, two torpid and cranky females. Mind, that worked out okay. The tout at the train station who tried to charge us 25 Euros for having our bags carried 100 yards got the surprise of his life when my wife turned upon him snarling, fangs bared and claws extended. He ended up beating a retreat with less than half that amount and a distinct air of wounded dignity. (Good one, wife.) Then I took the baby on a two-hour stroll through Bucharest while Claudia and Natasha rested in the apartment. ...the apartment: we have a little apartment as a temporary pied-a-terre. It's small but quite thoroughly furnished, and very conveniently located in the middle of town. We'll be there for the next week or two while we hunt for permanent digs. So, we arrived, we're okay. Some first impressions next time we post.