Wednesday, August 3, 2011


\We are not alone. We have met up with another team in the same boat - literally. Jim and Ed of Jungle Bungle and commanding a Fiat Punto were turned away by the Moldovans for not having the requisite letter of authorization from Ed’s dad. Similarly distressed, we have been exploring the watering holes of Galati, which we have pretty much exhausted now, and all together in two cars took off to explore the delta of the Danube. More on that shortly. 

Galati sits on the outskirts of Romania and is the gateway to Moldova and Ukraine. Having driven through Bucharest and seen the rigid uniformity of its concrete towers we were not quite prepared for the charming dilapidation of Galati’s blend of early 20th century neoclassical buildings and eastern orthodox churches that dot the city. There are modern-esque attempts at collective architecture, but Galati appears to have staved off the worst of central planning and retained a vibe all its own. Moreover, we have dined in a couple of first class hostelries for a quarter of the price it would cost at home. One stand-out was the City Pub with it’s selection of carefully prepared meals, local wine that grew on us and a decent selection of Cuban cigars. We are staying at the Hotel Galati which is very comfortable and includes both breakfast and dinner for about 48 euros a night, less at the weekend. There is a university here, a museum of history (NOT! open on Mondays or Tuesdays) and the kind of public garden that you hope to find in every southern European town. It’s a place where all three generations may be found in the evening: the elderly chatting on benches, children squealing at tag and young lovers walking arm in arm. There is an evening chorus of birds in the trees, while the only song Euro-pop knows slips mostly unnoticed from the cafes. Rounding things off are a kick-ass fresh produce market and the Danube. It’s a nice discovery when the only thing between you and the Ukraine is Moldova.

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