I touched down at Henri Coandă International Airport, Bucharest’s primary airport, late on the fifth of November. We deplaned on the tarmac and boarded a shuttle bus. The shuttle took the passengers and I to a terminal nearby. As I was near the exit of the bus, I was one of the first to arrive at the immigration and customs station. A young agent took my passport and my boarding pass from Heathrow. Along with a superior, she went over my documents. With no questions asked, she stamped my passport.
I found Myles in the lobby of the airport. He had arrived in the afternoon and had spent the day on his laptop relaxing. I placed a call to the hotel to see if a shuttle was available. There wasn’t. Our only option was to take a taxi. Within the lobby of Henri Coandă, Myles and I located a ticket machine for taxi cabs. We were able to choose the brand of taxi, based upon the rate per kilometer. Myles and I chose a taxi within the medium fare range. With the ticket printed, we exited the airport in search for our specific taxi.
The ticket information was in Romanian but the identification number of the taxi was made clear. After a few minutes, Myles spotted our designated taxi. The driver, an older man, checked our ticket and put our backpacks in the trunk of his car. I gave him a piece of paper with the address of our hotel and he ushered us into the back of the taxi. While driving down the highway, shifting gears constantly, the man asked few questions. It was only when we were near our hotel that the man spoke up. He started to tell us that the area we were staying in was full of “gypsies.” I had heard this term before but had to look up the definition. It’s a derogatory term for the Romani.
Our hotel was in a dimly lit neighborhood full of graffiti, about a mile from Old Town. The taxi driver parked along the curb of the hotel and got our bags out of the trunk. I gave the man fifty leu, which is the equivalent of nearly twelve dollars. He told us to watch out for the gypsies in the area and drove off. Myles and I took our backpacks and entered the lobby of Labirint Hotel. We had made into Romania.