Romania was so many things… it was beautiful but neglected, exciting but frustrating, so full of potential but with the unmistakable sense that it´s just not quite there… yet. By far the poorest country up until that point, it was quite the stark contrast from Slovenia and the tiny bit of Hungary that we saw while passing through. Infrastructure is lacking and Romania´s public struggles with corruption on every level have resulted in very few improvements since joining the European Union.
The people, however, were wonderful. We had quite a bit of van trouble while in Romania, some of it due to our complete lack of mechanical knowledge (really simple stuff that we just didn’t know) and some more complex things involving GPL gas tanks and potentially dangerous business. On both occasions, we were helped by everyone… friends, perfect strangers, long-suffering mechanics who came home early from fishing trips to rescue the random Portuguese people parked in front of their house. As is typical of countries where people have little, they are more than willing to share the little that they have, in stark comparison to the van troubles we had in richer, more developed countries (ahem, France…) where no-body could be bothered to even offer a hand, never mind go out of their way to help. Highlights of Romania include seeing our friend Dan (who, together with his dog, travelled with us in the van for a few weeks), visiting the Salina Turda, an undeground salt mine converted into a theme park… bizarre, amazing, unlike anything else I´ve ever seen… and driving the Transfagarasan pass, which has been something I´ve wanted to do for years and years.
Luis made a few videos during our trip, and I really like the Romanian one, you can see it HERE.