06 May 2011

romania on my mind

day one ...

so my trip to Bacau, Romania started off great. jason mccoy offered me a ride to the airport – and on the way we had a fantastic conversation, covering everything from the (purported) assassination of osama bin-laden by an american tactical team to the recent canadian election results to alternative models of christian ministry and who might back them.

i should have known that things might get bumpy at the drop-off, when i removed my bags from Jason’s truck only to close the door and wondered what it was that i’d accidentally kicked along the ground. it was my passport.

then the air canada agent informed me that as of two days ago, they started flying out of the toronto island airport. my booked flight was one of them.

a service charge later, and i was didn’t have to find my way downtown to the island terminal.

the flights to and from montreal were uneventful and on-time. in frankfurt i met up with doug johns, and we took a commuter jet over to bucharest. man, i find sleeping on planes hard – so i was absolutely fried when we landed. but there was still a bus ride ahead, and a short walk to the hotel.

night #1 in bucharest was marked by a soft-pretzel (staple university student food there), a walkabout in the rain and dinner at pizza hut. if i noticed anything, its that cars park on the sidewalk. all over the sidewalk – so pedestrians really have to be quite fearless.

off to bed at 8:30 pm.

day two ...

after about a 10½ hour sleep, my wake-up call rang and i got up for a morning run. 5k through the streets of eastern europe on a gorgeous spring morning. pretty cool, unless you call being chased by a barking stray dog for part of the way not cool.

after breakfast and a quick facebook/gmail check-in (my eldest daughter messaged me to let me know she was glad that i’d made it, but that she was a bit confused by the fact that i was writing to her from ‘tomorrow’ – i thought that i’ve got to use that somehow in my conference talks ... communicating from the future), i managed to get some individual walkabout time in on friday morning, and i used it to stop in on a designated historical church (where i was ordered by an ornery elderly romanian woman to remove my hat), the national museum of art and some out-of-the-way pizza joints.

we had a scheduled 1:40pm train departure time to bacau but a 12:00 noon checkout time. so we headed over to the train station a bit early. enough time to be accosted by gypsies looking for money and prostitutes at the train station looking for sex (well, actually money).

the train ride produced its fair share of interesting sights (in no particular order):

  • horse drawn wagons all over the place

  • more stray dogs (some alive, some dead)

  • stray cows!

  • plenty of drainage ditches, river ‘valleys’, and aqueducts – all without any water

  • shanty towns strewn with litter (presumably inhabited by gypsies)

  • views of the carpathian escarpment

  • fields of canola

  • various peddlers of their wares boarding the train at each stop, dropping off goods for our perusal at our tables
we arrived at bacau train station and were greeted warmly by pastor marian paduret who is serving as host, guide and primary translator. he took us to our hotel (a wonderfully decorated and quaint family run b&b style place), and stayed for some supper with us. we chatted about plans for tomorrow - which apparently should include removal of my earrings for this audience. normally, i would take this under advisement and ignore it ... but given that i don't want to give anyone an extra reason to not bother listening to the western-world english speaker, i think that i'll oblige. :)

closing up shop at 10pm, in order to get a decent 16k run in at 5:30 am.


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