Through my eyes

living my life without regrets

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Hotel Baden, Calarasi, RO

 With our rental car we could not leave Romania. So while we were rural, we thought let’s see what it is really like in Romania without any tourist areas nearby, without destinations one can look up on the internet, without hotels or Restaurants. Rural!

Oh boy, we saw Romania!
The Road is Not Wide Enough for Them.

They Have the Right of Way 

Lots and Lots of Pigs 

The Makers of Good Down 

Another Sow 

She Owns the Road 

Dilapidated Farms and Housing

Buying Lunch on the Side of the Road

A Parliament of Starlings 

The drive South towards Mangalia was still a bit touristy, we even saw some motorcycles when we had lunch. The local road we took along the Black Sea has some beaches and tourists, some restaurants, etc.

But the drive from Mangalia going west was an experience. I felt like stepping back a few decades, maybe even a century. We saw many horse or donkey drawn wagons, but also saw pigs, geese, cows, goats sharing the road. The whole of the road (391) from Mangalia west to Calarasi was absolutely the poorest area we have seen in Romania. Yet the people were smiling, I guess they did not know any other life.

For me, it was devastating to see so much poverty, neglect or lack of knowledge along the route we chose today. I understand having pigs, but do they have to roam along the roadways? I do like geese and flocks and raising them for down or feathers or food makes sense, but do they have to be on the street? Sure you can train a cow to graze all day and then come back at night to be milked, but do they have to impede traffic while doing it? The housing we saw was substandard, the fields not neat and orderly. I had the idea it was the Middle Ages and someone forgot to tell the folks it was 2015. There was not a lot of car traffic. The area felt forlorn, exploited, forgotten.
Yet in some way it was the most interesting part of Romania for me. I still do not understand how people can live that way, look at their own crap all day and do nothing about it. The large farms still show the layout of communism. There are huge tracks of land without a house in sight. There are no small farms or houses amid the fields or pastures. The only habitations we found were in the spread out towns along the only road crossing this area. Normally I see a farm with a house. Normally I see small sheds, barns or any buildings strewn among the fields. Not here, not in most of Romania in fact. The acreages are being used purely to grow produce or grains. We passed some old State based communal buildings, now totally abandoned and forgotten. I don’t know and I cannot tell what farmer owns what parcel of land. The tracks of land are so huge that one person cannot own them, nor do I remember reading that there are very large corporations in Romania that own all this land. So who owns this land? Who decides today what is grown on what plot? Who plants, who reaps? It is easy to see who owns what land in most of the world, but not so in Romania. There are very, very large fields devoid of any trees, just fields forever. Most had been harvested but I could not tell you who did it! I did not see silos, I did not see tractors, and I did not see people on the fields. All I saw were dilapidated villages time forgot.

I saw animals along the way that someone owns and, I am sure, cares for, but who?  I could not tell you.

The few people we saw in front of their houses, all the houses being within a village, were dressed but would never make it into a fashion magazine. There were no restaurants; there were hardly any shops to buy groceries. It was a very, very poor area we drove through most of the day.
Hazy Shorelines Along the Danube 
Our Ferry
Before the day was out, we did have to find a Hotel, though. In we found the hotel Baden near Calarasi, but finding it was another issue. We literally had to approach the Bulgarian Border; I could see the Toll booth, when on the left, after crossing the ferry, was a rather large hotel. It was so close to the border with Bulgaria yet far away from civilization; a strange place for a nice hotel like the Baden. The room we received was nice, the A/C worked and it even had a Restaurant; even an additional Restaurant next door to it. After what we just saw, the area we came through, this was a paradox. The check in was a bit more complicated, the Hotel asked us for Passports, etc. but explained that this is ‘normal’ since we are so close to the border, they have extra requirements to see all the paper work from each traveler. OK with me, I have nothing to hide.

Baden Hotel
Happy to Have Found a Restaurant
At the Restaurant next door we were given our own ‘dining room’ with a view of the Danube River. The main part of the eatery was prepped for a wedding reception, so they did not want us to be in the way. Again, OK with me, the service we received was good, the food even better, and the prices reasonable. It was fun watching the preps for the reception later, but we did not see the whole festivities.
River View, too
We heard nothing of the dance music when we slept that night and in the morning the parking lot was empty and the restaurant was as if there was nothing unusual happened. Hotel Baden is a good place to stay when you get stuck in this area.

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