Romania Tourism

Active recreation in wild country Romania.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The grandmother becomes more and more agitated as the train lurches towards the Hungarian-Romanian border. Tears leak into the furrows around her blue eyes. She clutches my hands. "Help me, help me," she begs in crude German, our only common language. I nod, terrified.

She bustles around the compartment. Bunica - that's the local word for granny - secrets a chocolate bar under my newspaper, rams a container of Viennese coffee into my duffel bag. "You're a foreigner. The police won't take your things," she explains, detailing all the border-thefts she has suffered. Though Romanian, she works in a brassiere factory in Austria, returning once a year to her family. I am smuggling her excess treats.

At least, I sincerely hope they are treats, not, say, cafe canisters crammed with cocaine. The train jerks through the ink-dark countryside. We stop frequently. Boots slam up and down the carriage. I pretend to doze, blue passport displayed ostentatiously. Bunica croons and rocks, hyperventilating slightly. I begin to hate her. Why did she pack 12 jars of instant espresso anyway? The Cold War is over. Supplies cross the border in happy, capitalist fashion. Did she miss the memo?

The grim guards finally materialize. They glance briefly at my documents, amused by a tourist on the Budapest-Cluj night service. Then they ransack Bunica's bags. She weeps. I watch sternly, doing my best U.N. Human Rights Officer impression. Perhaps it works: the border thugs leave her chocolate hoard in peace.

Bunica kisses me and dances around the compartment. Then she prepares a celebratory coffee from her stash, mixing the brown powder with fizzy mineral water. "Mmmmm. Gut!" she declares, shaking the bottle. I choke down the tepid mixture - quite possibly the worst beverage of my entire life - and toast my first trip to Eastern Europe.

source - http://www.roadandtravel.com/travel%20directory/Romania/transylvania.htm

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