500,000 bottles of sparkling wine mature in this section of the underground cellars at Cricova Winery just north of Chisinau, Moldova. Photo taken December 3, 2016.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Chisinau, Republic of Moldova.

Where are they going next? Transnistria. The country that doesn't exist!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Another shady car rental deal

We arrived in Iasi (pronouced Ee-ash) early yesterday morning and didn't waste any time. We only had the one day to see the city itself, so even though we were a bit tired from our overnight train journey we headed out as soon as we got things settled.

And, we had organized a car rental for our time here. We didn't really need it for yesterday, but we wanted to do a long day trip today so by picking it up yesterday we could get an early start today.

So, we called the car rental place and asked where the office was. I couldn't find much info online, which was kind of strange. The guy spoke English, and said that his driver would meet us at a prearranged location, about 20 minutes walk from here.

Okay, so we walked over there, I called the guy when we arrived, and sure enough there he was. And, he had the car with him that they were giving us. He had our contract with him already filled out, and after looking over the car, we signed the papers and gave him 460 lei ($152 CAD, $112 USD) in cash as the deposit, and another 207 lei ($68 CAD, $50 USD) in cash for the two day rental.

All done in a parking lot. And then, the guy shakes my hand, grabs his backpack out of the back seat, and heads off!

Too funny. Another shady car rental deal. But, this seems to be the way things are done.

This car has seen better days though. It's got 250,000 kms (155,000 miles) on it. So, it's been around the block a few times! I think we overpaid for it, but it's only for two days.

We found somewhere downtown to park. Kind of lucky, because there are definitely more cars than parking spots in central Iasi!

The first magnificent building we saw.

The building in the above photo is the Iasi Palace of Culture. A fairly recent building, built between 1906 and 1925. Now, it houses a couple of museums which we didn't bother with. We went in just to see the architecture.

Fantastic inlaid marble floor.

One of the rooms that we found with an unlocked door!

We had brought some lunch with us, but it was too chilly outside to sit and eat it. So we had seen a sign for a nearby shopping mall and went inside. 

Huge modern shopping mall. And busy!

After lunch we tried to find the Gheorghe Asachi Technical University Library, which had been ranked as one of the most beautiful libraries in the world. But we were having a hard time finding it. So, we went into another university building to ask directions. And we were so lucky!

The reception girl didn't speak any English, but she got on the phone and found someone who did. Everybody is so helpful. 

It turns out we had accidentally walked into the The Mihai Eminescu Central University Library.

The Mihai Eminescu Central University Library in Iasi.

So a lady came down to help us out. She spoke excellent English, and offered us a tour of the building. Her name was Oana, and she was very knowledgeable and showed us some of the different rooms in the building as well as leading us up to the top of the dome for a wonderful view of the city.

The auditorium was beautifully restored.

The view from the top of the dome!

There are over 3 million books in the library, but none of it is accessible for a photo. They have an interesting storage and recovery system whereby you have to request a book via the computer, and then the actual physical book shows up via an internal elevator system for the storage area. Very cool. And other than the computers, it's not a new system. It's been that way since the 1800's!

The oldest manuscript in the library dates back to the 10th century! Amazing stuff.

Oana then showed us how to get to the original library we were looking for, but unfortunately it wasn't as good of an experience. Officially, the library was closed at 2:00pm, but we tried the door and it was open. Hey, you don't know if you don't try, right?!

Anyhow, we walked in and it was empty. A lady came out and she was not very happy. I tried telling her that we were tourists from Canada, but that didn't impress her very much. She had no sense of humor at all. I took one photo and we turned around. She locked the door after that.

We had a very quick visit to one of the most beautiful libraries in the world.

We went and picked up a few grocery items and went back to our AirBnb hosts. 

Marcela and Gabriel have looked after us very well. This is the kind of experience we love. Sure, we are paying them to give us a room for the night, but they have welcomed us into their home as friends. We're having such a good time, and yet we're only here for two nights.

Gabriel makes his own wine, as do many people here in Romania. But I think Gabriel is a master winemaker!

We had a couple of glasses, and they had friends show up to say hello.

Marcela, Gabriel, Kevin, and Ruth.

Maricica, Mitu, Marcela, and Gabriel.

Maricica speaks a little English, and Marcela's English is very good. But the men don't speak any, so Marcela was very good at translating.

Maricica brought some special treats, stuffed with cabbage.

They wanted to see some pictures of Canada.

We had a wonderful evening, but a little too much of that good wine!

This morning, we're off to the north of Romania for a day trip to the UNESCO painted monasteries.

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Fantastic deal of the day today for a lithium had vac...great for the motorhome!


And in Canada...




20 comments:

  1. If I remember correctly from my primary and university days, librarians traditionally have had a reputation of NOT having much of a sense of humor. Maybe it's because I was such a "disruptive" kid during my school days.

    Dee

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    1. I almost always remember most librarians as being friendly. I guess this lady just wanted to get started on her long holiday weekend and we were disrupting that. It is a shame because it would have been nice to have been able to look the library over a little bit closer and perhaps get a better picture or two of it.

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  2. Beautiful buildings. And beautiful people.

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  3. You have probably seen more of Romania than most Romanians! That is the way I felt about Scotland!

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    1. Yes, we probably have although a number of people that we have met have done a fair bit of traveling both inside of Romania and outside. We are often told this by people when we are visiting their countries including South Korea, Mexico and Colombia.

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  4. Excellent scenery and having fun. Enjoy your days there.

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    1. Our days are numbered now. Not long and it will be time to head back to Canada.

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  5. That sounds like a fun night. What kind of wine do they make (grapes/apple etc)?

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    1. It was, we certainly had lots of laughs and lots of wine. ;-)

      Gabriel makes his wine from grapes that he grows in his own yard. In fact most Romanians make their own wine but Gabriel's is delicious and not a sweet wine. He actually made a sweet liqueur out of one batch of wine because it was not up to his standards. The liqueur was like liquid gold.

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  6. I'm betting the wine soothed the pain from that overpriced car rental. ;c)

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  7. My husband's Grandfather was born in Isai in the 1890's and he went back there once to see them in the 1930's with a stop over in Paris. It's so nice to see wha Romania looks like:) Thank you!

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    1. I am glad that your Grandfather was able to return to Iasi and see his birth place. Maybe one day you could make the trip as well and see all the wonderful history here and perhaps even meet any long lost family members from your Grandfather's side of the family.

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  8. Haha you guys are so "otherworldly". I am way too introverted to do a shady rental car deal or even attempt to try a bnb thing. Even in Mexico, where I speak enough Spanish to get by, I am a fish totally out of water!

    So it is nice experiencing these things through your eyes. Keep up the good work!

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    1. Yeah, we know we are different! I don't think the majority of people would travel the way we do but we are comfortable with it and love to meet the locals and learn more about them and the culture of their country. Every place we have stayed, except for one, there has been at least one person that can speak English so it does help us tremendously. When we find ourselves in a situation where no English is spoken, somehow or another we manage to make ourselves understood. It is always an adventure and we love adventure. :-)

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  9. We had a similar experience renting a car in Romania: we stayed at at B&B place in Bucharest and a guy brought the car over and all the paperwork was done in the parking lot. Same thing when he picked up the car. It was great - not having to worry about getting to and from the rental company office, getting into cabs and what not. Good service!

    One thing that I miss about Romania are the little pastries and pretzels - they have these small bakeries everywhere and you get freshly baked, warm goodies pretty much at any time of the day. Your story about the car brought back all these good memories.
    Beautiful pictures. Looks like the weather is not too bad either.


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    1. Agreed, it is nice to get that service but I believe even some rental car companies in Canada or the USA will pick you up at your accommodations but I believe that they then bring you back to the office for the paperwork. I am not certain on that and of course it depends on how close you are. So far all the rentals here have worked out for us so hopefully this one will too.

      We haven't mentioned anything about these pastry and pretzel places because we unfortunately can't partake in the enjoyment of eating them. They do look good and smell wonderful though and yes, they are very popular.

      The weather for the most part has been very good. Some days like yesterday though are quite chilly, at about -5C (23F) but at least it was sunny. Today it is snowing. :-(

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  10. Wow, that marble floor is very impressive.

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    1. Very impressive! It was gorgeous.

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