We woke up on day 5 in the hotel that wasn’t a hotel, had breakfast, brushed teeth and headed out of towards Hungary
Romanian Border gaurds were very interested in the van but nothing of any consequence happened there. This interest is for many reasons but one that struck me is that Chevys are usually small cars in Europe so a Chevy astro Big Blue bus is HUGE and doesn’t make sense to them. Chevy took over Datsu in Europe. So you can imagine seeing only little smartcar-ish cars and calling them Chevys and then seeing us lumber by in a… Chevy must be little weird.
The first words we heard from the Scannell-esk boarder guard was “Mexico!!!!” still not sure why… An auspicious start to a very strange country. We had a long-ish wait (20min)to get our passports back but now have 2 new stamps leaving Hand entering Romania. The first several miles of Romania is post-industrial wasteland, post-communism cement everywhere!
Gas station said it took visa card, but then since we had no chip & pin (American banks are so behind) they wouldn’t accept it, had to go to a Bankomat in the METRO, which seemed like a Costco or a BJs.
We had lunch in a little pizzeria that smelled like dish water… 2 pizzas with Funghi (mushrooms) and a vegetarian with seasonal veggies… corn, carrots, peppers, olives with the pit…
The tires were making some noise so we stopped at a Vulcanizare (tire place) very nice chaps balanced and rotated all four tires and disposed of old shredded tire and gave us back a clean hub all for less than $30. Nice.
We chatted with some cool English speaking Romanians who worked for DAF (truck company). Very nice tall man named Dragos was interested in the ride and said he may even donate! He gave us his business card and he and his colleague gave said that if we were ever in Bacau, his company would fix the van for us! So nice!
Off we went to Cluj Napoca… where it rained and hailed and rained and flooded and rained and poured!!! We had to stop twice due to lack of visibility and flooded roads, however somehow we made our way through the city and onto the right road going in the right direction!
Finally we beat the rain and got to see real rural Romania babushkas and thin men with hats on being drawn on donkey carts … walking their cows...Old men in training... Nothing has changed here in a long time. Old barns and houses only look somewhat new because of their bright red plastic roofs, which is an odd choice but if it works then power to them for using it!
The roads in Romania run the gauntlet from weaving bumpy tracks with car eating potholes and hair pin turns (mind you the bus doesn’t do hair pin turns… the bus doesn’t particularly like turning as is…) all the way to autobahn style roads with passing lanes, smooth surface and beautiful rolling hills and straight highways.
We will tell you more about Romania and Moldova soon we are just running out of battery power!!!P