Something special to declare

“Now here’s my idea. Why not keep the journey times the same but make the trains so comfortable and relaxing that people won’t want the trip to end? Instead, they could pass the time staring out the window at all the gleaming hospitals, schools, playing fields and gorgeously maintained countryside that the billions of saved pounds had paid for. Alternatively, you could just put a steam locomotive in front of the train, make all the seats inside wooden and have it run entirely by volunteers. People would come from all over the country to ride on it. In either case, if any money was left over, perhaps a little of it could be used to fit trains with toilets that don’t flush directly on to the tracks.”

The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain by Bill Bryson 

tour of Moldova
Travelling the length and breadth of Moldova.

A knock at the door. Lights on. We sat up, bleary-eyed. 03h30.

A black-leather-jacketed Romanian border guard stood at the open door of our train compartment.

“Pașapoarte!” We handed them over.

A welcome fresh breeze played into our 2 person compartment from an open window in the corridor. Old soviet trains are seriously over heated in winter.

“English?” he noted. We nodded.
“Tourist?” Again we nodded.
“You have something special to declare? Drugs? Weapons.” Continue reading Something special to declare

Moldova: a little country with a big heart, lost in another time and place

“I can’t think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything. Suddenly you are five years old again.”

Neither Here nor There by Bill Bryson

Soviet memoriesI walked into a small steamy room next to the cow shed. “Should I pack wellies?” I’d asked Hubby a week before. “No they’re having a drought,” he’d assured me.

I glanced down at my muddy shoes.

Two women looked up at us. One old, the other a young trainee. Both wore headscarfs and large aprons, their sleeves were rolled up to their elbows and they carried wooden paddles in their chapped, reddened hands. Continue reading Moldova: a little country with a big heart, lost in another time and place