So, he walks into the questioning room, sits down with a sigh, places his papers on the table, and blinds me with the lamp.
– You see, Radoo, it’s nothing personal. But you’ve been on this trip through half of Europe and we just need to ask you a bunch of questions. You realise at this stage you are denied the right to any legal representative. Is that OK with you?
– Sir, as much as I love my country, which I don’t, except for its people, rivers, mountains, Sibiu, UBB, the dorms in the campus, the friends I’ve got here and quite a million other stuff, like my family and the really really cheap beer, I do believe this inquiry to be useless. I did not expose any national secrets, ask for political asylum or any such shit.
– Let’s start with the very beginning, Mr Bazavan, aka “Groparu”, as some of your friends like to call you. And I would really appreaciate if you dropped any colloquialism from your language… you see, us here at the Intelligence Service do not take kindly to the likes of you, foul-speakers. You started off to… Amsterdam, if I recall, is that right?
Gee, it seemed almost real! 2 weeks off work, paid leave, a whole European map to scour with Amsterdam as the G-spot, a reliable (yeah, right) car with decent consumption (just 14 litres/100km, at times of ~70USD/oil barril), some cash to dispose of, nice sidewalks, expensive beer, a page ripped off Josh’s passport, the rest of us Europeans with Romanian passports… Yes, it almost seemed real. Now I realize it was just in my imagination.
Day 0. Where the #$%^&*() is my passport?????
It’s 4 o’clock in the morning and I can’t seem to find my passport, after a desperate 4 hours’ search through my socks supply, stash of CDs, google… whatever. Am I going to Amsterdam, after all? I haven’s been so pissed in a looong time. Eventually it turns out the American dude has it. Long hours of waiting, he’s not answering the phone to confirm.
Day 1. Take off
Found my passport. We set off 6 hours later than originally planned. Tibby’s front seat is busting my knee caps, and he does not understand plain Romanian when I tell him to pull it forward. We have no jack for the car in case we have a flat tyre, no tool box, notÂ even a screwdriver, and when I myself pull Tibby’s seat forward to make more room for my long legs (for he does not understand Romanian, again) Josh exclaims “Wow, we have a first aid kit!” with reference to the black box sliding from underneath the seat. Dunno why, but I’m growing anxious with this trip. We arrive at the border. The guard frowns at our passports (gee, that’s new! never seen a bordergurd frown before in my life.) He then asks: where’s the page? Bribe, I think, greedy bastard! bribe. And I have no change, and I bet the others don’t have it either. Josh grins: ah, ze page? Here it is! And he miraculously extracts from his wallet a page that had been ripped off from his American passport, and he hands it to the guard. Hmmm, I see, pursues the borderguard. I do see. Duuuude, we rage at him and the machine, why didn’t you tell us you had a ripped page from your passport? It wouldn’t have changed anything, he says. We was still going in the trip no matter what! And besides, that’s an American official business Romanians should never get involved into. Capiche?
So we drive on, cross the Hungarian frontier uneventfully and finally feel at home, in the heart of Greater Romania. We drive on, and on, and on, and dawn cracks. And since Tibby is always hungry, we have breakfast at a Hungarian petrol station (home-made sandwiches from the trunk) and eveybody is staring at us like we were Romanians having breakfast in a petrol station (home-made sandwiches from the trunk.) And we couldn’t care less, since we had a whole Europe to scour. And then we drive on, and we get lost. And seeing how stupid we looked, an indigen walks to us and says something in Hungarian. We say “Nie panimayu!”, and then he says “Unde vreti sa mergeti? Ljublijana? A, o luati la stanga si tineti taaat inante!” We thank the friendly Romanian-speaking native, and we head on. And we exit Hungary.
But first – we transit the Hungarian border again. What in the world are three retarded Romanians doing in a car with an American driver doing here, in no man’s land? They must be really rich, thinks the guard, since they can afford an American driver for – I’m sure – no less than 20$/hour. Lemme see your passports. And he sees the passports, and Josh, polite, as usual, goes: If you want the missing page, it’s right here, officer, and he hands him the pitiful sheet. Ever seen a fat borderguard laugh his lard out? Make that two, for he’s calling in a colleague to see it. They look conspicuous, they decide, let us see your bags. Sure, officer, goes I in my best German whose only words are toilet, I’m hungry, and Hey, wanna fuck? Whose bag is this? Mine, says I. Take it out. Shoo, goes I, I only have food and cigarettes, plenty of them! And I unpack. Cigarettes everywhere. And cans. My hands are shaking. We are not supposed to bring non-EU food inside. What do you have here? I get pissed. Condoms, says I. Condoms? Yeah, condoms. The kind you roll down your erect penis while holding the upper tip with your thumb and index finger. Wanna see them? No, says the guard, turning to his colleague, they don’t look like no terrorists to me, look how lame they are. You can go now. Off! You’ve wasted my country’s vital supply of oxygene for too long now, and we have no mountains here, yeah, I know, it kinda sucks. But our GDP is still 20 times more than Romania’s, so we’re still better off, you and your rivers, mountains, Sibiu, UBB, the dorms in the campus, the friends you’ve got there and quite the million other stuff, like the really really cheap beer. And besides, this Tibby friend of yours looks realy hungry, feed him, for Christ’s sake! Yes, sir, boss, sir, aback horsepower we’re a-riding, says I, c’mon, guys, let’s hit the road.
Away we go, and we hit the border. Slovenian border. Amazing, Slovenian border guards wear Hungarian uniforms! And they speak Hungarian, too! Where are you going? Ljublijana, says we. Can’t go to Ljublijana. Why, it is closed this time of the year? Funny guy wanna die, screeches the border guard, this here is the Hungarian border. To go to Ljublijana you have to go back, and turn left or right at the circle you’ve just passed. How on Earth did you think the Slovenian border is 7 kilometres away from the Hungarian border? It makes more sense than having two Hungarian borders 7 km away from each other, thinks my right lobe, but my mouth is inspired enough to refuse to utter. Thank you, sir, we are most obliged. And by the way, says the guard, is your friend alright? ‘Cause he looks kinda hungry to me.
19 minutes we spend driving around in circles. I guess road signs were not invented in that country.
– Officer, I pause, the Ljublijana episode is in my previous blog entry, do you want me to go through that again?
-No, just carry on. You arrived in… Venice, is that correct?
Venice. What a lovely city! Gondolas, Italians, cigarette buds everywhere. And water. And bridges. We head out for a snack. I order what on the menu read sea horse, but it turns out it’s just horse meat. I do hope it’s someody’s pet, thinks my stomach while I’m gulping. Or a stud. Preferably both.
We take British Rob over with us. Probably Italians are really crappy (which they’re not) since he’s so exhilarated to see us. We hug a minute longer than decency allows. But we’re going to Amsterdam, the European capital of sex and gay pride, so we’re just warming up. But first – we must hit Bologna, where we’ll spend the night at Claudiu’s friend. Not Bologna proper, but a world-renowned little place called I-can’t-remember-the-name, and-I’m-prety-sure-its-inhabitants-can’t-either. And again I’m amazed at how fast Italians speak, especially since the only words I know in Italian are Yes, I think gay is ok, horse meat, which to me sounds like sea horse, Rroma, and pizza quattro formaggi, ti prego. Nonetheless, I am the designated linguist of the road trip, so I have to squeeze my brains real hard to remember the Italian I knew when I was watching Canale 5 shows hosted by huge titted porn stars. But we manage to reach our destination, not before getting lost 14 times. Thank God for huge titted TV hosts and a really, really horny adolescence.
Day 2. Headlong to Amsterdam via Milan
We exit Claudiu’s friend’s house, not before a generous meal (thank you, Claudiu! Be sure to charge Tibby for all he ate, ’cause he sure ate like a carnivorous elephant), and we drive to Milan. Gaping, we was! Cool, cool city. We find a store with incredibly cheap unconfortable shoes, and we buy two pairs each. We receive fliers with next week’s elections, and we decide to vote for that very party. Then we see a concert with really pretty dancing girls, and we decide to vote for their party, too. And then we decide to vote for the communists as well (yes, there is an Italian Communist Party!), and then with Mussolini’s granddaughter, herself the leader of right-wing party, ‘cause she looks kind of hot. Then we decide to make our own American-British-Romanian leftist-centrist-right-wing party, and become MPs and hire only hot lesbian secretaries and rig tenders and get indecently rich and feed Tibby all he wants. Then we leave before any other evil happens.
We reach Switzerland at night. Bordergurds speak French worse than I can, which indeed is a record. They warn us of the 30E motorway tax. Romanian is what Romanian does at the American’s “suggestion”, so we just cross Switzerland majestically – without paying. And we hit Amsterdam the next noon.
Day 3, 4, 5. Amsterdam
Nothing really worth telling. Really, nothing.
An African-Amsterdamian is tempting us with coke. Tibby jumps “Can you order fries and chicken breasts with that, too?” but soon realizes the guy was not selling the kind of coke he wanted. We get our car booted and we pay 100E in fine. Amsterdam is where British Rob has to leave us. So long, bud!
Day 6, 7. Bruxelles, then Bad Harzburg
Bruxelles. Hmmm. That’s where all the EU money goes, right? Yeah, that’s right. Despite its friendly people, we get lost for 4 hours, but we manage to get out in the middle of the rush hour. We are bound to get to my sister in due time, ’cause I wanna surprise her. And my German brother-in-law. And my two sweet little nephews. And I talked to my sister’s sister-in-law to make sure they are at home, with warm food for Tibby. And we get to Bad Harzburg, and the Police car driving by is looking at us with the biggest eyes the size of onions Bad Harzburg has ever seen. And I rush to them toÂ show them just how friendly we are with the indigens. And I tell them I want to get to see my brother-in-law. In return, they say our car’s hind lights are not working. I’m telling them I don’t speak such good a German and I don’t understand (playing the dumb tourist, I was!) They say they drive us to my brother-in-law provided we spend the night there and we get the car fixed in the morning. My knowledge of German somehow miraculously gets back to me I say: “Officer, you just got yourself a deal!” What’s in it for me, is my right lobe asking, but again my mouth refuses to comply. He is driving us to my sister’s home, and we scare the living hell out of her, walking inside shrieking “Multi Ani Traiascaaaaa” (it was my brother-in-law’s B-day), looking like all the shit in the world, after a 14 hours’ journey, and withÂ hungry Tibby who was fancying to eat a full whale with any crunchy hors-d’oeuvres he could find – pencils, shoes, us.
Strange how time flies, we have to get going to Zirndorf, at Tibby’s friend, not before Tibby swallows up all the food in the house and leaves my sister threatening to call Kriminal Polizei if we don’t scram, buster.
Day 8. Zirndorf
Just in case your knowledge of geography amounts to 33 grams,Â Zirndorf is a small town in Germany. Germany is a big country in Europe, which in its turn is a small continent on a planet called Baza, in the Bazavan galaxy. Also, just in case you didn’t know, for some people “crane” is the same with “bulldozer”, ’cause in order to find him Tibby’s friend told us to look for the former while he actually meant the latter.
Day 9. Salzburg
Straight to Salzburg we go! For all of you geography illiterates, Salzburg is a city in Austria, notÂ Germany, as I mistakenly wrote in a cover letter which cost me a scholarship there in my senior year in college. Salzburg is the kind of city I want to live in. Mozart, cool tourists, mountains, statues, Mozart, music, fortresses and castles, and Mozart, monuments, memorials, Mozart, Mozart, Mozart and – again, you guessed it – Mozart. Oh, yes, and Mozart was Austrian, not German, as I again wrote in the same cover letter which I’m sure must have gotten the admission board rolling on the floor with laughter, although I do believe they wouldn’t have felt so comfortable if I had asked them where Zirndorf or Poplaca was! So long, Salzburg! You’ve left me with a picturesqe image and a horrible indigestion from the freakish expensive sea food I ate there. And I bet there was no sea horse in the sea mix, either.
Day 10,11,12. Bratislava
As we were riding our vehicle towards friendlier Romanian soils, Tibby goes out saying what everyone felt: Dudes, let’s go and see Bratislava! Bratislava is just a right turn from Austria, and there we go, and we set foot there, and we stroll, and we take pictures. I love the Slovenian capital, goes I, look, they even have blocks just like Manastur! Let’s go have some Slovenian beer. Can I have some Slovenian beer, please, I ask a cute waitress whose eyes roll out into the biggest onions Bratislava has ever seen. Sure you can, Strabo, you father of geography, my friends tell me, only THIS IS SLOVAKIA, WHICH IS JUUUUUST A BIT DIFFERENT FROM SLOVENIA! And Budapest is not the same with Bucharest, you know, which in its turn is different from Belgrade! I hate geography, I retort (I don’t, but there was nothing else for me to say), and you can’t expect me to know how to tie my shoes andÂ know where I am at the same time! Dude, that’s common knowledge, they say.
We have our beer, and away we go, ’cause we wanted to get home to Cluj in the morning. But – I won’t tell you what happened at the border, only the fact that the prickiest, son-of-a-bitchiest, bastardest Hungarian border guard denied us the entry. Take a guess why? Here’s a hint: a particular missing page from a particular passport which happened to belong to a particular American guy who was riding in a particular car we were in, too. Deny the entry – that’s OK, I guess, no underling with ripped passports should be allowed to defile the green meadows of Hungary. But his on purpose bitchy way he had us return, and his refusal to speak anything else than Hungarian to us to justify such a measure is I think worthy of a FUCK YOU! from the bottom of my heart, especially since his colleagues one week ago had not sen this as a threat to world security and peace.
Anyways, we drive back to Bratislava to the consulate to change the passport, and we can’t help feeling like lowlife gypsies (that’s why I am totally against discrimination, for I have been discriminated against in the past.) And there we stay for three long days waiting for Josh to solve his passport issue, and all we do is prevent our kidneys from gettign sick by staying 12 hours a day in the Slovak Pub in Bratislava and sipping on their delicious beer. Some voices say these days were lost, but I say on behalf of our kidneys these days were gained, especially if I ever want to sell one for a good price. I especially liked the friendly people – former communist block, just like us. So friendly, that when we had to bribe the Slovakian border guard with 50E for not having paid the road tax I felt the guy was actually doing me a favour.
Anyways, we eventually cross the Hungarian border (with more incidents again that I would like to remember, but I really felt like killing somebody with the death of a thousand cuts!) and we head straight to the booth to buy a vignette for Hungarian roads (all at our friend’s Slovakian border guard’s advice.) Again we get this nasty feeling of not being wanted – the booth worker literally slams the door in Josh’s nose and refuses to give us a vignette for God knows what reason, after having him wait in the wind for 4 minutes, 46 seconds, andÂ 98 decimals. They can’t be all like that, we think, and fortunately we meet a very friendly staff at a OMV petrol station despite our communications issue. There! Now we feel better about HungaryÂ
Wanna know how we crossed the border? I bought myself 3 litres of whiskey from the duty free, which I intend to drink all by myself as soon as an opportunity pops in.
– Long story, says the intelligence officer, stifling a yawn. And you expect me to believe all this?
– It’s all in the picures, anyways. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a sleep to catch and a long way to go tomorrow: my parents are dying to see the pictures with my nephews. Oh, and by the way: just wanted to know I don’t hold any grudge against anyone. It’s been a wonderful trip which you ought to make sometimes.
– So you haven’t told them the secret, he said. Very good. That’s very good. You are free to go now.