Saved a bit of time last night by checking in on-line. Was a good opportunity to also change our seats - the original ones were over the wing and would have given virtually no view. So now we are up toward the front and with a window.
It sure is a sign of the times when every airport we need to use is multi-terminaled with zillions of gates. Guess that everyone wants to fly these days. From Munchen Flughafen Hotel Hilton we walk to Terminal 2, go through security control and customs and then head to Gate H39. The have gates A-L spread between the two terminals, each with 40+ exit points! Yes, a walk, but not too bad - perhaps 850 m in total. The only problem is that there is only one set of toilets - back perhaps 600 m. Not good when you are in a hurry ;)
On our way out to the gate, we come across a Work, Sleep, Relax centre in the middle of the gateway - complete with Sleep Pods!
English is widely spoken and seems to be the common denominator for communication in the melting pot where east and west meet. Good for us, but also not so good - we won't need to try too hard to be understood and will need little excuse to try to crack pronunciation!!
We are booked with Lufthansa, but will travel with their code-share Air Dolomiti out of northern Italy. All goes well with very streamlined self-check-in, however that is where the technology ends. Down four flights of double stairs to the tarmac - that was fun (not). Then a bus trip out to the plane. There is a Team Germany girls sports team travelling on the plane - don't know which sport, but judging by the number of them, I guess football.
The plane we are flying on is a schmick little number called an Embraer E-Jet. It is a narrow bodied, long and sleek vehicle with four seats across in a 2+2 configuration, so we have a window seat. It taxies very quickly and we are soon soaring high and fast. The cabin service is excellent with egg and meat sandwiches and divine little Italian biscotti. Michael enjoys dunking his in his coffee. I save mine for later.
I'm fascinated with the air traffic up here. It seems to consist of two lanes - the scenic route and the autobahn or autostrada - planes that come in to view for mere seconds as they scream across the sky. Missed getting a pic of the first couple, but then got ready in time to catch one on camera. Not much else to look at up here - we are flying well above an 8/8 cloud cover. The fun starts when we begin to descend. O.M.G. the air pressure is playing havoc with my ears (and other people's). Swallowing, coughing, yawning, chewing gum - none of it helps and we are still 20 minutes from Cluj. Dear God, this is torture. Romania comes into view as we bumpily drop beneath the clouds. As expected it is quite mountainous and for this part anyway, only settled in clumps.
And as we even more bumpily land in a crosswind, and are taxiing in to the gate, we spy a Lear Jet and a Citation sitting on a side apron. Guess someone has some money!
We exit the plane in to the heat - but it is not so bad. On to another bus for the transfer of about 300 m to the terminal building (thankfully we didn't need to walk it in the heat!). Through Passport control - "How long are you staying, where will you go?" is asked in impeccable English. Collect our baggage and out through customs control (no-one there) and over to the car hire office.
Raul could not be more helpful.
He apologises that the only automatic vehicle he has is a locally produced Dacia - not a problem I tell him. We ask for a GPS and he upgrades that to a wifi enabled tablet with Google Maps - all of Romania is covered by wifi - go figure - a country not too many years out of developing status and you can pick up wifi EVERYWHERE - very cool!!
Offers us free bottles of icy cold water, escorts us personally to the car, connects the tablet and explains the intricacies of the car - there is no 'Park'! And set us off with our first destination programmed in. He tells us that the worst of the heat has passed and that yesterday it was 40 degrees - thank god for small mercies.
We leave the airport and drive through downtown Cluj. We are headed for Salicea - in the foothills of the Mamure mountain range. The architecture is quite depressing - a hangover from the communist regime. And there is much building of new churches. Like many other places in Europe, the roads are narrow and the further we head out of Cluj, the worse they become. And to make matters worse, you share the road with trolley buses - that'll keep me on my feet!
We have booked accommodation at Casa Dinainte with spa facilities - we are not interested in these, it just looked nice and was away from the City. As we get near, we are directed onto an unsealed rough road, but half the traffic we are in also turns. Once we reach the property, the driveway is fully paved and the lawns manicured and there are heaps of people. Turns out it is a popular day trip.
I'm still not up to dinner, so tonight Michael dines alone on Grilled Zantra which he likens to perch, with mediterranean vegetables and bread.
And as we sign off for the night, there is a thunderstorm rattling all round us. Hopefully when it breaks, so will the humidity.
See you tomorrow guys!