Getting There Away

International flights use Otopeni airpoi (g201 4050, 204 1423; Jos Bucure§tl-Ploie;ti), 17k] north of Bucharest on the road to PIoie$ll The airport has a lower-level floor for in ternal flight arrivals and departures.

Arrivals use terminal A and departure leave from the newer terminal B. Th Otopeni airport information desk (IB)20 1000; www.otp-airport.ro) in terminal B is open 24 hours.

Tarom (g 337 0220; Spl Independentei 17) has it head office at Otopeni airport (g 204 135S 201 4979). Romania's national airline has foul daily flights to Timi^oara, two daily flight to Baia-Mare (except weekends), one fligto daily to Oradea, one a week to Constanta daily to Satu Mare (except weekends), dai'l) to Sibiu (except weekends) and four weekl) to Cluj. All Tarom flights use Otopeni airport.

One -way tickets to anywhere in the country cost US$75 plus tax (the tax differs depending on the destination airport) and returns cost between US$112 and US$124 plus tax.

International flights include daily flights (except weekends) to New York via Timi ?oara, daily flights to Athens, daily flights to London (except Thursday and Friday), one flight a week to Berlin, four a week to Brussels, five a week to Istanbul, twice a week to Madrid, and daily flights to Warsaw, Zurich and Vienna.

Air Moldova (Map p60; @ 312 1258; Str Batijtei 5) has three flights weekly to Chi^inau from Otopeni.

Baneasa airport (g232 0020; Jos Bucurejtl-Ploiegti 40), 8km north of the centre, is used for internal flights and charter flights for package holidays. Domestic airline Angel

«llllnis (g 211 1701) has twice-weekly flights "i AI lid, daily flights to Iasi (except week-niU) and flights to Suceava from here.

Rui iiim'l bother catching a bus unless it's a .hent trip through the city. The state buses m poor and they take ages.

I he central bus station (Map pp54-5; Calea Grlvitei, |i|i Hotel Ibis) is a few paltry stops rather than I Hiltion. Services change regularly and it ¡i wise to check the timetables stuck on the Mtltp posts first. There is no ticket office; imp aboard the bus and buy a ticket from • hr driver.

A bus journey in the city costs a mere ill .'I). Services nationally go to/from Tul-(n, Bra§ov, Constanta, Targovi§te and

I'llllCIJti.

Filaret bus station (Map pp54-5; g 336 0692; Plata nllll lilaret 1) has daily buses to Mogo?oaia I ("0,75, 19km), Buftea (€1, 24km), Giurgiu H 1,50, 62km), Ploie?ti (€1.50, 62km) and i iiiafat (€6, 327km).

Hurray for maxitaxis, which are part bus, |i>iil taxi. These speedy little devils have almost rendered the stuffy, slow and dirty Imses obsolete. They leave mostly when they're full but do have timetables. C8ri 1« the main private maxitaxi company. Its white maxitaxis leave from a spot in the i nitre of Piata Gara de Nord, opposite the fiensi Blu chemist. Services go to Bra^ov («5, every 30 minutes, 6am to 7pm) and Craiova (€5.50, every half-hour, 5.30am to 8pm).

MOLDOVA

I'here are seven daily buses to Chi^inau (CIO, about 12 hours) which depart from l ilaret bus station. Buy tickets in advance Irom Filaret Tours (Map pp54-5; g 336 6780), which has an office inside the station.

TURKEY

Murat (Map pp54-5; g 336 6215; B-dul D Golescu 31) i tins a bus to Istanbul (one way/return €34/ (>8, once a day at 4pm) from Filaret bus station. It runs a free shuttle bus from Its office at the back of Gara de Nord to filaret which leaves at 2.30pm. The buses are luxurious, with air-con and free tea and coffee.

Ortadogu Tur (Map pp54-5; g 312 2423; Str Gara de Nord 6-8) runs buses to Istanbul (one way/

return €37/74, 2.30pm and 3.30pm daily) leaving from outside its office opposite Gará de Nord. The buses are excellent and have air-con and free drinks and you get a free breakfast in Istanbul. In Istanbul you can change buses for its services to Iran, Syria, Moldova and Ukraine.

WESTERN EUROPE

Eurolines (Map pp54-5; g 230 5489; www.eurolines.ro; Str Buze§ti 44) has buses to Frankfurt and Stuttgart (€50, once a day at 5am), Paris (€95, once a day at 6am), Madrid (€24, three per week at 6am) and Belgium (€114, three per week at 5am).

Double T (Map p60; g 313 3642; [email protected]; Calea Victoriei 2) has daily buses to Germany.

Car & Motorcycle

Bucharest has some of Romania's worst potholes, which, combined with the daredevil driving skills of many Romanians, makes for a hair-raising ride. Petrol costs approximately €0.75 per litre and diesel is €0.50 per litre. There are plenty of 24-hour petrol stations around the city which sell oil and accessories.

Parking in Bucharest is problematic in the centre, much like any other capital. Parking a car in the centre, particularly off Piata Victoriei and Piata Universitátii, costs €0.30 - look for the wardens in yellow-and-blue uniforms.

CAR RENTAL

Car rental is pricey as it's geared towards the business traveller. The usual big names are based at Otopeni airport. Avis Hilton (Map p60; g 312 2043); Hotel InterContinental (Map p60; g 314 1837); Otopeni airport (g 201 4783; www.avisworld.com; ® 8am-8pm) Charges upwards of €80 per day for cars. Cars4Rent (g 0723-347 192,0788-303 923; www .cars4rent.ro) A cheap option, with prices starting from €30 a day.

Europcar General Magheru (Map p60; g 313 1540; B-dul General Magheru 7); Otopeni airport (g 312 7078) Easy Rent A Car Otopeni airport (g 413 3379; easy [email protected]) Cheap cars from €30 per day.

Train

Bucharest boasts a complex but comprehensive train network that links the capital to the regions and the rest of Europe and the East.

76 BUCHAREST •• Getting Around

BUCHAREST ■• Getting Around 77

Gara de Nord (@223 2060; Piata Gara de Nord 1) is the central station for national and international trains. It has two halls, one for lst-class and international tickets, the other - much grottier and more crowded -is for 2nd-class tickets.

First class is always recommended, especially for women travelling on their own, as it's safer, cleaner and still relatively cheap. Tickets for local and national trains are only sold at the train station one or two hours before departure.

The ticket hall for international destinations, lst-class tickets and sleeping compartments (marked 'casele de bilete CI. 1') is on the right as you enter the station's main entrance. Window No 1 ('casa internationala') is for international tickets; window Nos 2 to 7 are for other lst-class tickets; and window Nos 8 and 9 are for sleepers and couchettes on national trains ('vagon de dormit cuseta').

You must have a valid ticket to get onto the platforms. Guards have been posted at the entrance to stop undesirables, begging children and drunks who made Gara de Nord the hell-hole it used to be. Timetables are in the main aisle of the station building opposite the lst-class ticket hall. Notice boards listing ticket prices are displayed in the 2nd-class ticket office. Prices change every month.

Some local trains to/from Cernica and Constanta use Gara Obor (® 252 0204) station, east of the centre. Local trains to/from Snagov and a couple of seasonal accelerat trains to/from Mangalia on the Black Sea coast and Cluj-Napoca sometimes use Gara Baneasa (@ 223 2060; Jos Bucure§ti-Ploie§ti) on the northern edge of town.

All advance tickets (up to 24 hours before departure) can be bought from the Agentie deVoiajCFR office (Map p60; §§ 313 2643; www.dr.ro; Str Domnita Anastasia 10-14). A seat reservation is compulsory if you are travelling with an Inter-Rail pass. International tickets must be bought in advance.

Domestic tickets are sold through the Agentie de Voiaj CFR office (S 7.30am-7.30pm Mon-Fri, 8am-noon Sat) on the ground (1st) floor of Gara de Nord; international tickets and rail passes can be purchased on the 2nd floor. Train timetables (€1) are sold at the ticket desks in the domestic ticket hall. Some staff speak English.

Daily international trains include two I Sofia (€24), one to Belgrade (€20), one li Moscow (€55), five to Budapest (€40), (ill to Chiçinâu and one each to Istanbul (€2< and Vienna.

GETTING AROUND To/From the Airport

To get to Otopeni or Baneasa airports tak bus No 783 from the city centre, which tli parts every 15 minutes between 5.37am ait 11.23pm (every half-hour at weekends) froi Piata Unirii and goes via Piata Victoriei.

Buy a ticket, valid for two trips, for ( at any Régie Autonome de Transport il Bucureçti (RATB) bus-ticket booth near bus stop. Once inside the bus remember li feed the ticket into the machine.

Baneasa is 20 minutes from the centn get off at the 'aeroportul Baneasa' stop Buses also link Baneasa with Piata Roman and Gara de Nord.

Otopeni is about 40 minutes from tin city centre. The bus stops outside the dc partufes hall (terminal B) then continue to the arrivals halls (terminal A).

Taking a reputable taxi from the centri to Otopeni airport should cost no mon than €5.

To get to the centre from Otopeni, catcl bus No 783 from the stop in front of ter minai A. Tickets are sold at the booth nex to the stop, or direct from the driver (thl easier option). Avoid any officials who tel you not to take the bus, they are trying t( get you into an expensive taxi.

This is the first scam you might experienci in Bucharest - gangs of private taxis have ; monopoly at the airport and will try to chargi you €25 to the centre. The easiest way t( avoid this rip-off is to ring a taxi and war for it downstairs from the arrivals hall: exi the building, cross the street towards the cai park and take the lift to the right down oni floor. Even if you haven't called a taxi, then are dozens of 'real' taxis waiting there whi will use their meter to take you into town.

Bicycle

Youth Hostel Villa Helga (p68) has bicycle; to rent in summer for €10 a day.

Bus, Tram & Trolleybus

For buses, trams and trolleybuses bu) tickets (€0.20) at any RATB street kiosk.

,.ul. il 'casa de bilete' or simply 'bilete'. I'Htuli your ticket on board or risk a €10 hi llir spot fine if caught by an inspector, ilnjjlr and two-journey tickets (€0.40) are »♦»¡luble as well as a 10-trip ticket (€1.50) .1 ii monthly pass (€8) for unlimited bus, ttltn, trolleybus and metro use.

Public transport runs from 5am to api i.iiiinately 11.30pm (reduced service on miil.iy). Buy a timetable (Ghidul Mijoace-itu i|r Transport In Comun; €1) from ticket llis or checkwww.ratb.ro.

Matro

Miii Inirest's metro dates from 1979 and ii,r, lour lines and 45 stations. Line M4 is llic newest. Trains run every five to seven minutes during peak periods and about every 20 minutes off-peak between 5.30am and 11.30pm.

To use the metro buy a magnetic-strip ticket at the subterranean kiosks inside the main entrance to the metro station. Tickets valid for either two/10 journeys cost €0.20/ 1.50. A one-month unlimited travel ticket costs €4.50. For routes see the Bucharest metro map below.

Metro stations are poorly signposted so sit near the front of the train to give yourself a better chance of seeing the station names. At platform level, the name of the station where you are is the one with a box around it. The others indicate the direction the train is going.

MUCHAREST METRO

Ion Mihalache CD 1 Mai

Aurel Vlaicu

Pia{a Charles de Gaulle fi)-"1

(Piata Aviatorilor)

4B Pipera

Basarab (3)

Ion Mihalache CD 1 Mai

Aurel Vlaicu

Pia{a Charles de Gaulle fi)-"1

(Piata Aviatorilor)

4B Pipera

Basarab (3)

Nicolae'Grigorescu Policolor (Leontin Säläjan) TÍmpuri Noi

[) Eroii Revolutiei

Line Under Construction Former Station Name

[) Eroii Revolutiei

Taxi

Opt for a taxi with a meter. Reputable companies include CrisTaxi (§9461), Meridian (§ 9444) and Prof Taxi (§ 9422).

Always check that the meter is switched on, as Bucharest is plagued by dodgy taxi drivers, and stand your ground if they charge too much or try to avoid giving you change. But the good news is that at €0.20 per km they're an absolute bargain - and quicker than taking a crowded, sweaty bus.

For longer journeys always negotiate a price before setting out.

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