05 Aug, 2009
Europe Part Seven: Romania & Moldova
Posted by: Scott In: The Rally
Things are getting a bit tougher.
First off, the good part: Romania. After driving all night we entered the country a bit before sunrise. I was lucky enough to watch the sunrise over the hills while driving towards the east. This was the first stretch of land where you really felt like you weren’t ‘in Kansas anymore’. A very agrarian society to this day, we were traveling through villages where people were leading their cows to pasture, and horse-drawn carts were sharing the road with cars. We had origially planned to travel to the capital, Bucharest, but as we were already a bit behind schedule we decided to sick to the northern part of the country and push on towards Moldova.
After close to ten hours of driving I gave u the wheel to Collin and he proceeded to take us up and down the twists and turns of the Carpathian Mountains while I caught an hour or two of sleep. It was an amazing drive.
After going non-stop for almost twenty hours with very little sleep and food we ended up at the Moldovan border. Getting out of Romania was easy, getting into Moldova was a bit trickier. As a former Soviet Republic, they have a fondness for paperwork that makes even the smallest task quite a burden. At first we were told that we couldn’t get into the country as we didn’t have a visa. I had looked on the US State Department web site and it said no visa was required for US citizens. I explained that all I wanted to do was drive a mile in their country to get to the Ukrainian border. They said I needed a visa. What this actually was is called a Carte Verde, and is basically car insurance (yes, for my mile-long drive). Luckily this was available for purchase just up the road.
One of the border guards directed me to leave Collin with them, as insurance that I would come back. We all had a laugh out of this (even the guards), as I mimicked that I would just run off and leave him there no problem. He then said for me to follow some guy driving an old Mercedes that was passing through the border. I followed him in our car a few hundred meters up the road to a shack where five old women were playing cards outside. They knew what I had come to get and proceeded to take my personal details and hand me a couple slips of paper…after I paid them the equivalent of $30US. Great way to make money for the country I guess!
I took the papers back to the border checkpoint, handed them over, and waited around for another half hour or so while they supposedly did ‘paperwork’. We were out of there and onto the Ukrainian Border in about two hours. Not so bad considering what I had heard about former Soviet checkpoints from other travelers. If they were all like this I would consider myself lucky! Turns out we weren’t to be so lucky.
Pictures have been posted in the gallery.