The worlds worst airport

We have just flown out of the worst airport in the world.  If you ever get the opportunity to fly from Bucharest to anywhere, pay extra to go out of the primary airport and NOT Baneasa.  Ridiculous.  There is a large round room, that’s it.  Approaching the airport there is no parking, just a drop off area and about 300 people loitering around on the grass with suitcases. Inside there is no semblance of organization when it comes to checking in…there are 6 desks and about 4 flights going out with people just mushing themselves (no lines) toward the desks.  We arrived to the airport early after an eventful day driving from Sighisoara in the heart of Transylvania to Bucharest.

The morning started well.  We slept in a bit, played, and made breakfast.  Last night we stopped at the grocery and got muffins, bread, and some other items.  Shopped a bit at the souve store down the road before getting loaded in the car.  Our first stop was the local Saturday market – we were on the people-watching trail.  It was quite lively, with lots of nice local produce, wicker crafts, and tons of baby peeps and ducks for sale.  We had to pry Zoe away from the chickens.  She really wanted one to raise and wondered why we couldn’t just bring it to Nan and Grandpa Joe’s house.  Back in the car we were taking a more direct road toward Bucharest, but through tiny villages and up over the mighty Fagaras mountains.  in our atlas the road appeared to be paved, but we (and by we I mean Bethany) drove about 30 km on dirt!  It was fun to go through the small towns one last time and see the amazing scenery, but Bethany had had it with the giant potholes.  As we approached the mountains, we were awed at the size.  They are huge!  It’s like a giant fortress – and the extreme elevation change is even more impressive than the alps because it’s not gradual.  Avi and Zoe had both fallen asleep in the the car for the trip, thank goodness as it took a while.  When we got to the town of Fagaras, though, they woke so we stopped for some lunch and visit to the local playground.  This town wasn’t super cute like the villages, but seemed quite nice. Zoe had fun playing with the local kids and Avi had fun playing and crawling in the grass.  It was good to burn some energy before getting back into the car and going up over the pass.  On the way we took a bit of a detour to a Bear preserve, but it was closed.  Bethany was sad because she has apparently never seen an actual Panda.  didn’t know that.  I was glad we tried to get there though, because the view was incredible.  Its in a large stream-lined valley near Bran with beautiful green hills to the north that lead to the Transylvanian farm lands and a huge wall of rocky mountain to the south protecting the valley.  I cannot say enough how incredible it is.

From there we had our final exit from Transylvania – up over the pass and back onto route 1 south into Bucharest.  The drive was uneventful.  At one point Avi got really hungry so we pulled over to some shop stands so I could nurse and Bethany could check out the wares.  As always, Zoe liked me to lounge back my passenger seat so she could play with my hair.  Back in Bucharest we made a stop at grocery store for some items, Zoe had a complete breakdown tantrum that originated with her not wanting her shoes on, and then we continued to the airport.

Baneasa airport is not labelled as such on the road – it is instead called Aurel Vlaicu – so we drove past it a few times before entering.  We still weren’t sure we were in the right place until Bethany spotted the car rental agent.  It’s been nice renting cars in Eastern Europe as they drop off and pick up wherever you want.  very cool.  We got some sandwiches at the only food available – Snack Cafe – and then went to the throng to checkin for our flight.  One of the airport workers must’ve seen my confusion trying to pick a counter, and he led us straight to the front of counter 1.  Apparentl it’s common for people with kids to cut. No one seemed shocked or mad about us cutting in front.  The next step was going past one of the two customs agents and then through security.  This actually went quite smoothly and we were looking forward to chilling out for an hour by our gate until we walked into the holding pen.  It was full of hundreds of people standing and camped out on the floor.  In a regular airport the space would be sufficient for one gate – one flight – but here there were 4-5 other flights all going out around the same time.  It was absolute chaos.  This airport could MAYBE handle one flight at a time, and certainly not the load they were attempting.  We camped on the floor by the stinky bathroom where Zoe watched Little Mermaid on the computer and Avi nursed the sleep.  Amazingly we heard the call for our flight and smushed ourselves into the gaggle of people heading toward the gate.  We were then ushered onto a bus which basically turned around to take us to an airplane that would’ve been quicker to walk to.  The busses opened and the hoard of people started loading onto the plane – a 737 – from the front and back with no direction.  Again with the chaos as folks in the middle tried passing others going from front to back or vice versa.   To my utter shock we took off only 10 minutes late.

The flight was uneventful and two hours later we landed at lovely, spottless,  amazingly German Koln airport promptly at 0113.  It took us about an hour to deplane, get our stuff, and get through customs.  There is a grocery in the airport so we stocked up on diapers and food for breakfast, then caught the 0313 train to Dusseldorf.  From the main train station we took a cab home.  It all went quite smoothly here in Germany.  The kids fell asleep on the plane, but woke for our time in the aiport and had some food with us.  Once we got them into the strollers on the train, though, they were out and even stayed asleep as we shoved them into the back of a cab and again crammed them into strollers for the elevator up to Bethany’s apartment. Bethany’s cats seemed happy to see us…and we quickly went to bed.

Today we slept in, did laundry, and went on a nice long bike ride / walk downtown to the May Day fest….it’s their Labor Day – which is still very much a celebration of labor partys or something like that.  Balloons, kid crafts and food made it quite the afternoon out.  A nice long afternoon nap and food delivery rounded out a tiring day.  It’s nice to be back.

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