"A Tale of Two Tour Guides" Romania by Dabs

Romania Travel Guide: 6,992 reviews and 22,693 photos

We arrived into Bucharest on a Thursday afternoon after two connecting flights including a seriously short layover at the world's most chaotic airport (any guesses Anglophiles?) to find ourselves with no luggage, apparently the luggage handlers had less incentive to ensure our luggage making that connecting flight.

We were greeted after customs by George, our guide for the first leg of our trip who delivered us to our hotel without incident. We spent the next several days driving through Transylvania and Bucharest with George in a comfortable air conditioned car, every day in his suit and tie even though temperatures were hovering in the high 80s, punctual, organized.

After we bid George farewell we hopped on a train to Iasi to start a 3 day visit of Bucovina and the painted monasteries. I had contacted a guide from a recommendation in the Rough Guide and had emailed him several times trying to figure out an itinerary, the warning bells should have gone off when he inadvertantly emailed me a love letter intended for the Canadian love of his life but by then I was too far invested in the process.

We arrived at the train station in Iasi, I'm pleasantly surprised to find our guide there along with his faithful driver, so far so good. That is until we reach our trusty steed, a 1984 Volkswagen Golf that would have surely been sent to the auto graveyard had it lived in the US. As they opened the trunk, I pondered how our luggage was going to fit (I had mentioned the luggage), after a few disconnected speaker wires and a little shoving, it was in and off we went.

During our first few hours in Iasi, our guide expressed hatred of gays and Jews, not terribly surprising given his religious background and the antisemitism that is prevalent in Iasi. By the end of the trip, he would include Italians, Japanese, the British (who I believe under the highest honor of being the most foul creatures to walk the face of the earth) and every other nationality he's ever encountered.

Our guide seemed to be fluent in English but I had reason to doubt his comprehension of the language very early in the trip when I suggested that perhaps we get a quick inexpensive bite to eat and we ended up at Tres Sarmales, this after I professed my hatred of the national dish. I suppose it shouldn't have surprised me too much when at the end of the meal, he opens his wallet and says, I don't have enough to cover my share. I suppose I was to gamely suggest that we would be happy to buy him lunch but I really wouldn't have so he agreed to deduct it from his fees.

After we were deposited at the hostel, our accomodations for the two nights, my husband and I schemed a way to lose this guy. Maybe we could hitchhike? Or maybe those nice German guys from the hostel would take us on their motorcycles? But we had come to have a guided tour of the monasteries so when he arrived the next morning, we hopped into the death trap and headed off for another fun filled day.

Our guide stopped by all of the important monasteries, we would go inside each one and then in midthought, apparently whenever a nicotine craving hit, our guide would say "now I will give you some time to enjoy" and disappear, once he even drove off leaving the driver standing in the middle of the parking lot.

To be continued.....

  • Last visit to Romania: Jun 2005
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (3)

Comments (3)

  • matcrazy1's Profile Photo
    Mar 18, 2006 at 11:56 AM

    Very interesting story in intro... well, good to hear you had a nice guide in the beginning... then... anyway interesting adventures which luckily didn't destroy your trip :-)

  • codrutz's Profile Photo
    Feb 1, 2006 at 9:59 AM

    You know, I think you might had the wrong guide/travel agency .. but also agree with you that Bucharest is ugly compared to Chicago. Still long years to go until civilization :) Yet, I hope you had an interesting and not so scary trip :)

  • dlandt's Profile Photo
    Aug 9, 2005 at 1:38 PM

    Dave was here


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