Monday, May 11, 2009

First Objective: Check!

The first objective that I had for the visiting clan was to give them an opportunity to understand the meaning of the "land of contrasts" that is Romania.

On Saturday, having met at Ferighy Airport's Terminal 2A, having learned that the bags would indeed all fit into Klaus' trunk, and having "niced" (thank you, Piper) the police into not ticketing us for parking illegally, we drove into the city of Budapest. Then, after determining that our hostel reservation was at a place to which we could not drive, we stopped for refreshment at a small beergarden near a major suspension bridge over the Danube. After one round, with my having a Coke Light, the waitress kindly gave us permission to leave our car there overnight. So our second round was five beers, not four-and-a-Coke. We then found our way to the Domino Hostel, which was clean and quite adequate for a post-flight place to sleep for one night. Its location, on Vaci U., the pedestrian mall of downtown Budapest, was outstanding. All five of us stayed in one room with three bunkbeds for a total of 84 Euro, about $22 each.

On Sunday morning, towing or toting our luggage, we walked from the Domino Hostel back across the Danube bridge to the shady lot where we had parked Klaus overnight. Our next two hours we spent walking in Old Buda, on the hill above the Danube, overlooking the city. That is Alex at the castle in the picture.

Klaus then took us unerringly out to the M3, a flawless motorway heading east. We made excellent time through Eastern Hungary, and had entered Romania at Petea and passed through Satu Mare before stopping for lunch.

Eastern Hungary is quite beautiful, with many very well-kept villages and farms, and not a few forested areas. Deer-crossing signs are common, reminding us of New Hampshire. But, unlike Romania and New Hampshire, Hungary is mostly flat.

At the border we had to wait and be quizzed about the swine flu. All with American passports were being checked. I explained that I was living in Cluj, and that the others had all been screened at the airport upon entry to the EU. They returned our stamped passports, and we were in Romania.

Romania does not disappoint.

From our light lunch at the "Fast Food Shack," we drove to Negresti Oas to have an ice cream at the Regal Restaurant, and renew my special acquaintance with Saint Carmen the Waitress, Savior of Abandoned Computers. She grinned ear to ear when she saw me.

From Negresti Oas we continued east, along the frontier with Ukraine, past where I sang with the drunk Ukrainian musician back in October, and on to a feast and great night at the Popasul Din Deal in Ocna Sugatag. By then, the contrasts of life styles of city and country folk, of dress between younger and older folk, of modes of transport between horsedrawn wagons and new Audis, and of road conditions between newly-paved and treacherous had all become known to our newcomers.

As we approached Sigheti Marmatei, we found ourselves crossing the Sapanţa River. I perceived an opportunity. We reversed course for less than a kilometer, and turned toward the Merry Cemetery, not new to this blog, but certaiinly worth showing to my guests.

On Monday, we started our day with a prayer at Bărsana, and then drove slowly home by the new route that we first discovered when Dietmar was driving Shirl, Ferdi, Klaus and me back to Cluj six weeks earlier. Maramureş. The northern mountains. Northern Transilvania. Finally Cluj, and a stop to change money at Banca Transilvania in the Iulius Mall. Starbucks coffee. Alex at a rotating sushi bar. The chic girls of Cluj.

Need I say more?

View of our apartment bloc from the Roland Garros, a riverside cafe across the Someş Mic.


Rather Dashing said...

You forgot the morning up in Old Buda, the fire ants on the mountain road, and "Party Duncan" teaching us all about the hand crab.

Dr Zach said...


Your readers would like to see pictures of your guests, please.