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Eastern Europe at the Fall of Communism – Romania

Posted on Tuesday, December 14th, 2010 by Blaine Zuver

As I was getting ready to leave Debrecen, Hungary , I met a  group of backpackers checking into the hotel. When they found out I was going to Romania – from where they had just returned – they warned me to stock up on food – the markets there were almost empty – the only meager supplies reserved for citizens with ration cards. Though the evil Dictator Nicolae Ceaucescu and his vile wife Elena had been overthrown and executed 9 months before, Romania was still struggling to begin a market economy.

I boarded a night train from Debrecen. During the night we were awakened by the Romanian border guards who stamped a visa into my passport. Clocks were turned an hour ahead

Dawn broke over an endless wasteland of factories and slag heaps of coal.

Around 8 AM the train arrived in the beautiful Medieval town of Sighisoara, Transylvania – where Count Dracula once reigned.

My hotel – The Steara .  After walking though the desolate,beautiful streets, reminiscent of 1910, it was a culture shock to see MTV Europe on a satellite TV in the lobby – playing DJ Jazzy Jeff’s  ”Parent’s Just Don’t Understand ”  - featuring spoled American teenagers riding their parent’s Cadillac through Beverly Hills.  Romanian kids certainly did not undersand – what they were complaining about.

Dinner in my room that night – with food bought in from Hungary – sardines,bread,cheese,Mongolian Vodka. Currency – Romanian Lei is on the table.

Lining up for meat.  I didn’t see any, but perhaps they were expecting a delivery.

Window shopping behind the recently collapsed Iron Curtain.

A Gypsy Woman selling wooden spoons. I was compelled to buy one after she was about to give me the Evil Eye. Most Gypsy women do not want their picture taken as it  ” Steals the Soul ”  and will cast a curse upon the photographer. I was reprieved.

Many people were reluctant to speak to foreigners. Under  Ceaucescu’s Securitate – all contact with outsiders was to be reported within 24 hours under pain of being sent to a labor camp.

FInally , some food – fresh melons.

Roma in the marketplace – mostly selling off household items for cash.

The most common form of transportation in Sighisoara. 20 years later Romania is a modern market economy, but the evils of Communism will never be forgotten. After two days in Romania, it was time to return to New York. I boarded an overnight train to Belgrade Yugoslavia , where I could not leave the station because I did not have a visa – and then on to Vienna to catch a flight Stateside.

Eastern Europe at the Fall Of Communism – Photo Series

Posted on Saturday, November 6th, 2010 by Blaine Zuver

In October of 1990, just after official German Reunification, I traveled from Berlin, in the former East Germany, to Czechoslovakia ( now two nations) ,Poland,Hungary and Romania. While today the Eastern countries are much a part of the modern world, the East 20 years ago was a group of lands newly awakened from a long and stifling slumber.

In the next few days, ArcticTropic will feature a photo series  - Eastern Europe at the Fall Of Communism – to be interspersed with our regular adventure news and updates. Eastern European travel at the time was an adventurous undertaking, given the lack of infrastructure, the lack of any understanding of tourism and the unfamiliarity of many people with the outside world.

Romania

Posted on Monday, March 23rd, 2009 by Blaine Zuver

Romania has great hunting and trekking in the Carpathians . Many villages have the old feel of Middle Europa before the World Wars.

ArcticTropic links to 3 adventure travel destinations in Romania. CLICK HERE.