Thursday, August 4, 2011

Speed Dating on the Danube

First there was Anton, the guy who pulled over and tried to sell us a tour straight off the street. He spoke English well, but was a little too pushy and after all he was the first one to make an offer. We needed a little more experience before we could commit. Our next stop was a woman of a certain age (old) who spoke some German and was offering roughly the same trip for roughly the same price. But she didn't speak any English and we headed down by the river for another try. Our next fellow wasn't the captain of the boat, but spoke Spanish and we decided while interesting, he was more about marketing than delivery since he couldn’t name an exact price or time. We poked our noses into the local marina and Tom spoke to a woman on a borrowed cell phone that made a competitive offer, but she was on the end of a phone and we all know how hard it can be with those long distance relationships. Then we met Vasiliko, who also spoke some Spanish, a language we speculated is enough like Romanian to be relatively easy for the locals to pick up. His price was competitive, but again no English. The next guy that came along spoke good English, but a little flashy and a little expensive, besides, he wasn't particularly committed to the sale. At last we decided that we'd go with Vasiliko, who then played hard to get as we chased him down the street. In short order Tom and he became firm friends and we agreed on an early morning start at 6am. Just then another fella came along, also with good English skills, but it was too late, we were already committed. So in the space of 90 minutes we'd passed over the high maintenance, the flashy, the indifferent, and settled on the one that was playing hard to get. Just like, well, life. 

The tour itself was pretty amazing. The delta is vast, really vast, and each lake we went to had something different to offer. There were flocks of pelicans, lily pads the size of Frisbees, and densely wooded wetlands. Huge reeds reached up over our heads and were a good 10-12ft tall. The wind rustled through them with almost a musical feel. Lots of varieties of birds, familiar black cormorants, herons, storks, seagulls, among others that we didn't even recognize. While we didn't see any crocodiles or wolves, although we are told they're out there. We had a hard time believing we were in Europe, let alone Romania. It was definitely worth the trip and warrants an extended visit all its own. We actually tried convincing Jim he should start an eco-tourism venture. Perhaps one day...

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