Off the Beaten Path

August 8, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Posted in Family, Transylvania | 19 Comments
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Off the Beaten Path: How to Get Away for the Weekend in Romania

1. Reserve a hotel room via e-mail. Write it in English. Send it to the Romanian innkeeper. Get a reply in German. Consider sending homemade cookies to the programmer who wrote Google Translate.

2. The week of your trip, call to confirm your reservation. Ask if anyone speaks English. They don’t. Ask if anyone speaks French. They don’t. Fumble around in Romanian before getting handed off to a hotel guest, who translates for you and the innkeeper. Yes, your reservation is confirmed.

3. Pack for a two-night stay for you, your husband, your two children, and your baby. This will take four hours. And fill up the entire trunk of your car. And the back-seat floorboards. (And you will still not manage to pack enough clothes for your son, who attracts dirt, crumbs, and spills like Nick Jr. sucks in the five-and-under crowd.)

4. Drive to get your husband from work. Make a left turn from a right-turn-only lane. Barely blink at your transgression since the two cars in front of you did it, too. Asta e.

5. Be proud of yourself for remembering to turn left just after the gigantic, half-finished gypsy house next to your husband’s office. You made it! Now gladly hand the key and clutch over to him and the GPS.

6. Head out of town. Go the way the GPS tells you. Begin to wonder if that was a good move when the road turns to gravel.

7. Keep wondering when people stand on the side of the road and stare at you driving by.

8. Keep wondering when small children wave excitedly at you, as if they don’t see many cars passing through their village.

9. Stop wondering and feel pretty certain the GPS has led you astray when the road turns to mud. Dotted with holes. And horse poop. And switchbacks. Curse the GPS.

10. Curse the GPS some more and keep going. That’s your only option since there is no freaking way to turn around.

11. Keep mud-bogging. Pass three cows. Pass some chickens. Pass an old-school Dacia that has surely been parked since Ceauşescu was ousted.

12. Grip the door handle and laugh hysterically when your husband asks if you want a turn driving.

13. Wonder about the insurance coverage on your Romanian car. Wonder how you will get un-stuck, if worse comes to worst. Wonder how your sons can possibly be sleeping through all this. Wonder when you’ll regain feeling in your rear end.

14. Finally make it through the mud. Be absolutely ecstatic when the road turns back into gravel. Pass the same three cows. (Clearly, they know a shortcut.)

15. Make it back to a paved road. Consider writing an ode to concrete. Consider writing a nasty-gram to the GPS company. Realize you’re too tired and tense to write anything, except a text to your parents letting them know you made it safely.

16. Arrive at one of the most beautiful places you’ve ever seen. It pops up out of nowhere, around a bend, in the middle of a big swath of green. Wonder if it’s a mirage. Then see the sign and realize this is where you’ll be spending the weekend.

17. Park the car. Look for damage. Look for things that leak. Look for dents. Take pictures of the mud streaks. Lock the GPS in the glove compartment as punishment.

18. Spend your weekend hiking, eating, relaxing, and playing. A lot. Marvel over milk straight from the cow and raspberries fresh from the side of the road. Have homemade crepes. Crepes! Discover your new favorite Romanian word.

19. Pack up. Drive home. Stick to concrete roads. Teach the GPS the route. Pass those friendly cows. And daydream about mămăligă.

Ever traveled off the beaten path? Cursed your GPS? Discovered a new favorite word or food?


Fluffy Bunnies in Romania:
Read the tales
See the photos.



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  1. Though the getting-there sounds horrible, the being-there sounds wonderful! What a beautiful escape! You are having such an adventure being in Romania, just like you thought…I’m so happy for you!

  2. That experience in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language? You’re braver than I am! And yet it turned out wonderfully. 🙂

  3. It looks gorgeous!! Did you get a room with a ladder to the loft?
    I’m with Koreen – you are very brave, but so glad it worked out so well!

    • We did have a loft and ladder! It felt like summer camp, only fancier. =>

  4. That picture is breathtaking! I’m going to click the link for the most beautiful place in the world after I post this comment saying so. 🙂

  5. Wow! That is an intense story with a very happy ending. I am so glad all of you got to experience another side of Romania

  6. This sounds fantastic — even the crazy mud-hole road and the three cows. What an adventure! I’m guessing you never even worried about being in Deliverance or Hostel country.

  7. Sounds memorable. In a good way.

  8. I love the part about the cows knowing a shortcut!

  9. Just a quick comment to let you know that I’m not missing a post, but no time to comment… x

  10. So glad you got away.

  11. 1. Beautiful. Surreal.
    2. Yum – crepes and the mamal… stuff. Yum.
    3. Maybe I’ll ave to bundle the kds up and go… Some day. (but only after potty training, when no amount of clothes is enough for a trip.)

  12. What a wonderful adventure you are having. Everything is so lovely. It is so hot and dry here with this terrible drought that I absolutely am loving reading about your journey! It is a nice way to travel each day!!

  13. I love your “how-to” posts! 🙂 Excellent story – what an adventure! And so glad you got to your final (beautiful) destination – you deserve it!

  14. I could sense the angst and happiness through your words. Glad the ending was something beautiful and memorable.

  15. Haha, that was a funny post! I can completely sympathise, out in Hong Kong very often things do not work out at all like you planned! Glad you made it to the inn in the end. Do you live in Romania then? Must be a great place to discover…

  16. Ha! This made me laugh. A lot. But not at you, no. WITH you 🙂

  17. Wow. Just wow! It’s so wonderful that you’re able to discover such beauty with your family right alongside you. Some of my favorite memories of foreign travel are of food. Of course. Like the sweetest strawberries in Paris and the most luscious figs in Barcelona. They’re just fruit but over there, elevated to a whole new level because of just how fresh and even natural they are!

  18. […] hours, we would have the last souvenir from our fantastic, sometimes frustrating, occasionally frantic year in […]

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