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We were almost all asleep by the time we arrived in Sibiu. Only
the driving of the bus driver, who confided in us that he, too,
needed glasses, kept a few of us awake. Romanian driving is a bit
different than what we expect in the States.
The trip north
went past great expanses of the parched Wallachian plain. Romania
was suffering its worst drought in years. Sunflowers were wilted
and stunted. Corn, which should have been seven feet tall, was brown
and knee high. Only small, family plots showed promise of the high
yields that should be the norm in agriculturally rich Romania.
We drove through
dozens of towns and villages, passed horse carts and oxen, waved
at children and farmers.
As we moved
north we climbed off the flat Kansian plains of Wallachia and entered
the foothills of the Carpathians heading toward one of the two primary
passes into Transilvania. The Olt River cuts a deep gorge among
the 7,000-foot peaks and charming cafes dotted the bank along the
road. The scenery
spectacular. Steep mountains, rapid rivers, fog-shrouded peaks and
stately old resort towns lined the road north.
a different matter. Although we got in after dark, Hotel Continental
is a western-style, nicely furnished hotel worthy of almost any business
traveler. Check in was very quick. Some of us set out for a late walk
into the center of town in search of a beer and good sights. It was
obvious that Transilvania is better off than the south of the country.
Buildings looked better maintained, people looked healthier, just
about everything had a sharper look. In the morning, after a good
breakfast, we got in the bus and people remarked about the contrast.
In fact, Sibiu looks more like a prosperous town in the west than
its cousin communities to the south.
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