Iasi to Calarasi (Moldova)

Trip Start Jul 09, 2007
Trip End Aug 06, 2007

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Saturday, July 21, 2007

Saturday 21 July
Woke at 9.30 with hangover. Got drunken phone call from Nora at 10 who was working, then still drinking at a wine festival. Finally got on the road at 11.30 cycling past beautiful park to border 22k away. Much amusement at border - I guess they don't get many cyclists. Warned by passport checker that Moldovan people are really bad and smiled. Another check and told to proceed after one asked the other if bikes were OK - he nodded. Went to cross border bridge over river and female guard started shouting so I stopped and she spoke English. She wasn't sure if bikes could cross, so anxious wait as she contacted base on her radio that wouldn't work. Eventually said OK then as I cycled off she said stop - the others were playing her about. Said go again and she warned me she could stop me anywhere before the red line so I sprinted to it to take photos. Moldovan side went strangely smoothly. Cycled through beautiful tree lined roads to next big town 25k away and found a bank atm which didn't work so went inside. Asked for 1000 and cashier who didn't speak English tried card and said it wouldn't work so I persuaded her to make a few phone calls and it did. Took ages and I had to go and get my passport with big queue forming, She said it would cost $20 and I went ballistic so another phone call and she gave me the money. I went outside to check what I'd got and found I'd got $1000 about 10 times what I wanted, not a good idea in this apparently dangerous area. Checked in my book as what the local currency was and back inside and tried to get 1000 lei to no avail but then heard English behind me, so asked if they spoke English and Moldovan - they did so they helped me. Turned out to be impossible to put the cash back on my card so had to change $100. Outside spoke to the girls for god with a local boy, who were there on a mission in Calarasi. Told not to stay anywhere in between as it was dangerous so cycled 50k with many stops with heat exhaustion and had food with local drunk trying to talk to me but I was in security mode. In the end drank 8 litres of water and then couldn't find a hotel, cycling round town - a bit of a shit hole with many young men, petrol wasting in cars and bikes making a racket. Tried to phone girls for god who said I could stay with them - they also had a swimming pool which appealed at that time but couldn't get through on the phone. Looking lost at junction and mafia looking guy in tinted windowed people carrier shouted over and he drove and I followed to hotel, an old state owned neglected building. Cost was $2 and I had no choice so paid with the 'receptionist' having to go to local shop to buy me a bottle of water as she had no change. Took bike up stairs to spacious 2 rooms but had no running water, shower was a bucket of water in bath. To brush teeth 'receptionist' got a vase of water from somewhere as no water in whole hotel. Got changed and went to find bar unwashed and smelly. Found one with English speaking waitress and sat outside with local mafia guys who, when police walked past, had a conversation, but you could tell there was some animosity. Lots of boy and old boy racers going past, dogs barking loudly, but it seemed to be acceptable to family eating at the next table. Had lentil soup followed by pizza, I guess was frozen as they couldn't make a mix. Apart from the family everyone seems to be on drugs as acting strangely. 6.5% beer was taking effect so after conversing with waitress, who earned $50 a month, went back to my luxury hotel.
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