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: Here I am healthy. I had a lovely vacation in Bucharesti. Ok, actually it was on an equal scale with Constanta except there was no bad weather to blame. Three street kids from Iasi came down with us (legally). We walked around lost, walked around a park with a yucky lake. We went to Palatul Parliamentului, which is the official title, but everyone calls it the House of the People, which is the second largest building in the world for those of you who haven't memorized the Guiness Book of World Records. It's pretty big. The taxi dropped us off on the exact opposite side of where we needed to be, so we got an excellent sense of it's vastness walking around it. It was just like your average palace, except for the ashtrays and Coke machines and the trade show being set up in it. That's the problem with palaces built in the 1980s I guess. We also took some pictures of Arcul de Triomf, quite similar to L'Arc de Triumph in Paris, except not to big and you can't get to it, though I suppsed you could die trying pretty easily.

Then we got up at 3AM and went to the Bucharesti airport (actually in Otopeni) with a rather scary hotel manager and a relatively kind taxi driver; relatively kind as in he accepted 600,000 lei (apx. $18) for both cars, instead of the even-more-ripoffy $50 he asked for and I insisted we didn't have. We barely had the 600,000 lei.

We made it to the airport alive, and the next one actually, and then I had to say goodbye to all the other girls and sit alone for quite a while and then I got on another plane and sat there for quite a while. I made friends with a lovely young woman named Manar, from Egypt, and I helped her get her luggage and with her immigration and customs stuff, and she waited with me while I found Leonard. Then I went to Leonard's and tried to read, but I fell asleep on a big comfy chair after an hour. Leonard's work is very nice. I don't know if it's extraordinary, or if it's just the first building I've been in since Romania and the comparison overwhelmed me.

Security Checks: When we visited the People's Palace, we joked that the security was tighter there than at the airport in Bucharesti. Well it wasn't quite so true. They made me take off my shoes and they searched my bag (Kristin says I should have offered the guard a mint when he opened all my little tins). I think I had my passport checked about four times and my things x-rayed thrice, once for US customs. We had to do every type of security thing in Amsterdam right before boarding although only NorthWest (US bound) flights had to do it. A cute little dog sniffed out my bag at SFO. Did I have any food in it? the officer asked. Aside for the four open packages of biscuiti? It was the orange I made sure to eat on the plane; the dogs can smell them for days afterwards, he said. Manar, however, had to give up her liver sandwich.

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© 1999-2022 Susanna Chadwick.