I just returned from spring break. I spent five days in Romania and six in Moldova. When I get some time, I’ll sort through my photos and do a brief write-up for each country. In the meantime, this story is just too good not to share.
My vacation began in Romania with a couple friends. After a whirlwind tour, we went our separate ways. They headed to Istanbul, and I headed to Moldova.
To get to Moldova, I took a night train from Bucharest to Chisinau. Romanians speak Romanian. Moldovans speak Romanian and/or Russian. The conductors operating the train, which had a final destination of Moscow, spoke Russian. I don’t speak Romanian or Russian.
Despite my illiteracy, I could tell that my ticket was for Wagon 2, Cabin 5, Bed 55. So, I boarded Wagon 2 and looked for Cabin 5. Easily enough, I found it. But the door outside Cabin 5 showed it contained Beds 56, 57, 58, and 59. There was no Bed 55. From the outside, none of the cabins seemed to have a Bed 55. I decided to go into Cabin 5 anyway. Inside, the four beds were marked 46, 47, 48, and 49. I wondered if perhaps my bed was in a different cabin. I checked a few nearby cabins, but, alas, no Bed 55. So, I returned to Cabin 5 and waited for the conductor. When I heard him in the hallway dealing with another passenger who seemed to be similarly perplexed, I went outside and showed him my ticket. He looked at the ticket, looked at the doors, poked his head into Cabin 5 and pointed to the bed on which I had been sitting.
Another passenger had entered the cabin and was now sitting on one of the other beds. I pointed at myself and then to the bed just to make sure we were on the same page. After he nodded to signify “yes, that’s your bed” I went in and sat down. Upon learning that the other passenger spoke some English, I explained to him my issue with the ticket. He just laughed and said, “Moldovan numbering system. Only in Moldova. You have to be Moldovan to understand it.”
Having ridden on enough Bulgarian trains, I knew this type of numbering system was hardly unique to Moldova. Just to prove it, I took a photo of the cabin I rode in on the way back from Bucharest to Sofia. Although not quite the same, it’s close enough. The cabin contained Seats 21-28. The odd numbered seats were on one side of the cabin, and the even numbered ones were on the other. You can see how the even numbered seats were labeled. The odd numbered ones were similarly arranged without any logical sequencing. Maybe I’m wrong, but either the guy who did this was hammered on rakia or he’s a complete wiseass who just wanted to have some fun with unsuspecting passengers. It can’t be that people actually think this type of numbering is logical, can it?