Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Romania today, Athens tomorrow

Perhaps this place should be grateful to Dracula for scaring away tourists from Transylvania; it is by far the most beautiful part of Romania. Quaint, sleepy mountain towns whose populations range from the young, Mercedes-driving Nouveau Rich Romanians in Brasov to less than toothy grins, horse-drawn carriages and fields of hay on the way to Bucharest. Although Bucharest itself is nothing to write home about, the country is just starting to be discovered by the world.
Just last year, Romania entered the E.U., but it won't be till 2014 that it finally goes on the Euro. The Lei, a currency I might use in Monopoly when I get home, runs 2.75 to the dollar, 3.50 to the Euro. Just about everything here is cheap, sometimes cheaper than Ukraine.
Brett and I took the night train from L'viv on Saturday and met a nice Ukrainian couple in our sleeper car who were on their way to pick up their kids from summer camp. Just days earlier we had met a wonderful American, Michelle, who works for the Pentagon and was in Kyiv for a conference. She took a day train out to L'viv and bumped into us, people who travel are so wonderful!
We arrived in Chernivtsi, a Ukrainian border town, at 5:30 am in the morning. We had the Bad Sleeper Car hangover, and made the mistake of trying to use a Ukrainian train station bathroom. I knew something was wrong when the attendant handed me 3 squares of toilet paper and grunted. I can hold it.
We missed our bus to Suceava, and while trying to figure out what to do next, we were haranged by a russian man with a red, round face whose name was something like Mariek. We shall call him Man with Van. Although I don't speak Bad Russian, his official language, he something like:
"hey, you missed your bus. Not to worry, you can ride in my seatbeltless, radar-toting, sketchy VW van across the border at 100 km an hour. Only 10 euro."
It was surprisingly legit. We made our trip just fine, and he wasn't carrying a kilo of cocaine as I had suspected.
Later that day we arrive in Brasov and took a taxi to our hostel. Brasov is the most developed, most popular, most beautiful town in Romania. It's also the most touristy. I highly recommend it for its central location in Transylvania, a great place to make jump off trips to Bran Castle, or Sinaia for an even better Dracula experience.

Right now, we're sitting in a hostel in Bucharest before our flight to Athens tomorrow. When we arrive, we'll eat gyros and let glorious feta cheese drip down our chins. Oooooo, Greece. Wash that all down with some Ouzo and oh baby, i'm a happy man.
We hope to visit the island of Amorgos, courtesy of our friend Richard, an english teacher in LA who we bumped into in Chernivtsi. Here's to you, Rich. It's supposed to be beatiful and undiscovered. More on that later.

1 comment:

C Rudz said...

haha i laughed out loud at the man with van comment.