“Travels to a Different Time” : 8July1974: Contanesti, Romania: Incessant Line-Ups and Sneaking into Communist Youth Camp Discotheque; Russians not Appreciated!

Feeling much better today so some stale bread and jam for breakfast. I seem to be wasting away as where has all the food gone in Romania? I went to the cigarette butt littered beach and this time the water was calm. There are elderly women here with rather distended bellies lounging on the beach. The hawkers on the beach are bothersome pestering you to buy ice cream, chocolate and popcorn. I was home at noon getting slightly burnt. At least there is no Romanian rain I have not been having good luck with. In communist Romania you are subject to the national pastime of waiting in line. How many hours have I wasted waiting in line here? For example if you want to buy cheese you have to wait in line to enter the store. Then you line up to have it weighed and you get a receipt for it. You then wait in line to pay and then wait in line again to pick up the cheese. I thought Yugoslavia was bad but this is so bad it is comedic! Imagine taking these poor Romanians into a supermarket in Montreal. It would be a fantasy. Seeing the line up I just gave up and went into a cafeteria where I had a lunch of beef and potatoes all carefully weighed for a $1.15 dinner. I came home and being a bit sunburnt finished off reading my airmail edition of Le Monde which also serves as toilet paper as there is no toilet paper in the washrooms. Poor Karl Marx would be crying! I wanted eggs for dinner but guess what? None to be found. So I made a bizarre but edible spaghetti cooked on my mini propane burner. That burner is powered by a small gas cannister. It has been worth its weight in gold! If I cut my hair and wore a track suit could I pass for a Romanian?

After dinner played some frisbee with Pierre and along with a Finnish guy we snuck along the beach into the youth camp discotheque. The Russians came in after us and there was silence for a moment. No one wanted to fraternize with them. Poor Russians! Communist youth are dressed very shoddily and the music was about as putrid as the Romanian beer. We stayed a couple of hours and headed back on the beach. At least unlike East Germany there was no barbed wire we had to cut through. We evaded the checkpoint. Thank goodness the “control people” were not armed. It would be a shame to die to listen to socialist rock and try and drink Romanian beer.

Published by Robert K Stephen (CSW)

Robert K Stephen writes about food and drink, travel, and lifestyle issues. He is one of the few non-national writers to be certified as a wine specialist by the Society of Wine Educators, in Washington, DC. Robert was the first associate member of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada. He also holds a Mindfulness Certification from the University of Leiden and the University of Toronto. Be it Spanish cured meat, dried fruit, BBQ, or recycled bamboo place mats, Robert endeavours to escape the mundane, which is why he has established this publication. His motto is, "Have Story, Will Write."

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