Have a Nice Road :-(

Romania 2 Comments »

I try not to form opinions about a whole country, especially on a short visit, but my overwhelming experience was that people in Eastern European, especially Romania, were quite hard. By hard I mean tough – tough to talk to, tough to interact with, tough to get a smile out of.

Not every one of them of course. We met plenty of people who were friendly and outgoing; offering to help us with directions or give us information with a smile. But the large majority of interactions, most specifically with people in the customer and public service realm was a bit frustrating. Again, I don’t like to form opinions.

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Romanian Bulgarian Border

Bulgaria, Romania 3 Comments »

There’s no highway that crosses into Bulgaria from Romania, just badly worn secondary roads. Where we crossed are a number of small toll booths to drive past. Most have pulled blinds and emit no light. Even if you drive by slowly, peer inside the dark booth and see no signs of life, do not be mistaken, there are people inside. And if you continue to drive past, a wide-eyed head, erect shoulders and flailing hands will suddenly eject themselves from the booth window like a jack in the box. You might even be lucky enough to have one who will blow a coach’s whistle.

They all want to see your passport, to forcefully and theatrically push their thumb through each page, inspecting your previous travels, and then to again discharge their aggression in a frustrated and accentuated toss of your travel document onto the desk of their window, near enough to your waiting hand so that you might feel the air be pushed out of the way or even slightly, acutely targeted, be bumped by the thing.

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Photos from Brasov

Romania 3 Comments »

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Vampire Land

Romania 3 Comments »

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As You Drive East

Romania No Comments »

As you drive East from Budapest, cars get older and louder and blow grey smoke. You see farmers guide horses pulling wagons of hay. You see old man wearing big hats and darker, aged clothing. You see roofs on houses sag, cement facades chip away to red brick beneath. You see sidewalks crack, heave and then disappear. You see more and more people on dusty bicycles and boney mopeds.

As you drive East you find road signs to be hidden by trees or missing completely. The smooth pavement gives ways to splotches of cement and asphalt. Then holes in the road get bigger and bigger, some large enough to swallow your car. The guardrails and street lights disappear and you drive along in a pitch black, flat, foreign land. Everywhere you look is a mysterious abyss except for the thirty feet of broken road ahead, light dimly by the weak headlights on your early 80’s Volkswagen.

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