Off the Beaten PathAugust 8, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Posted in Family, Transylvania | 19 Comments
Tags: Challenges, Expats, Family, Food, Language, Nature, Outdoors, Romania, Summer, Travel
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?