|From Kiev, Ukraine|
As the old joke goes, on Wednesday night an American, a Frenchman, a German, and three young Ukrainian women walked into a sushi bar. We then moved on to an excellent cellar bar that the girls recommended. I discovered there is actually an excellent Ukrainian wheat beer that tastes almost exactly like America's "Blue Moon." (I know Nathan will read this with great interest.)
One of the girls is a dancer. She bragged about her strength, so I challenged her to an arm-wrestling competition. She nearly beat me. She told me she will be doing more strength-building for the next month and promises to beat me next time. I have no doubt she will.
On Thursday I boarded a train and began a 28-hour long journey from Kiev to Bucharest. A fun young couple, whose only shared language with me was a little bit of German, provided company for about half the journey. Afterward I had the compartment to myself. At night it grew too cold, but by day the temperatures rose to sweltering conditions. I found no way to control the climate in my compartment, so I was literally sweating on the way down to Bucharest.
Advice to 50 year-old men who speak no English but who nonetheless invite themselves into my compartment in order to talk to me about being an American: I am not interested. Sorry. It's not that Americans are standoffish. It's just that it's intimidating and creepy when I am traveling alone and some guy who has no language commonality with me invites himself into my space bubble like that.
I arrived in Bucharest only a few minutes late, where I was greeted by Adi, who works at my friend Razvan's IT company. Razvan was struggling back at the office with the installation of a bunch of new office furniture--desks and cabinets and the like. The place was in chaotic disarray when I arrived, and some of the cabinet doors had been installed improperly, so the company doing that received a lot of fussing as they tried to make it right. Reconnected with Marius there, who is working on building a house about thirty minutes from the office.
Razvan's apartment is extremely cozy, and it is wonderful at last to have a room of my own to disappear into. Two adorable cats add to the comfort. And of course, most of all, Razvan's and girlfriend Roxana's hospitality has been tops.
I am now preparing to meet up with Cristina, the young woman I met on the airplane two weeks ago. We have been looking forward to this ever since we parted at the Frankfurt airport.