Boarding Buses in Bucharest

We don’t speak Romanian, so purchasing the correct bus tickets using strictly mime felt like a huge victory. We were headed to the train station, feeling confident we could mime our way through that ticket purchasing process as well.

We boarded, but one stop later everyone began to disembark – it appeared we had to change buses. A tall, heavy man in a navy blue uniform headed toward us – Oh, ticket control – I thought, as I dug out our two vouchers to show him.

“50 lei.”

“No,” Matt answered, showing him our tickets as proof that we had paid.

“Passport,” the big man demanded.

“No,” Matt said again, confused.

We were the only ones left on board. “Get off,” Matt said to me, pointing at the closing doors. I protested but jumped off as the man roughly grabbed Matt by the sleeve. The doors closed and they slowly drove on. I followed on foot; eventually the bus stopped and the doors reopened.

“What was that?” I asked Matt, “We had tickets!” He shrugged quizzically.

Later, we explained the situation to our hostel’s owner. “Ah, you have to punch the ticket immediately,” she explained. “The man on the bus was a controller, making sure people don’t use the same ticket numerous times. It’s supposed to stop people from taking advantage of the system but the controllers have become corrupt.”

We stuck to taxis for the remainder of our trip.

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