We’ve decided to go to Snagov to see the grave of Vlad Dracul. Unfortunately, as no-one of us speaks Romanian (except Ms. K., who is famous for her ‘şi, şi!’, which means ‘and, and!’), we got onto the easy to remember #444 bus and went to the scenic village of Snagov.
The bus driver decided at some point of our journey that it was time to throw us out (and the sign on the street also said ‘Snagov’), so he stopped the bus, vigorously pointed at us and the door, and said several well-chosen words in his noble mother tongue, which we interpreted to be: “This Snagov – you out.” And we got out and stood in the rain instead.
We walked to the only sign of life we had seen so far in this village – the village pub and the Mini Market. There, we had ‘coffee’, ‘cocoa’ and ‘pizza’ and also noticed that prices had gone down considerably in comparison to Bucharest. We asked the stressed out waitress whether we would find the ‘Astoria’ down the road, and she said ‘yes’, along with a vague hand gesture which should have told us that her English was almost as good as our Romanian.
Full of confidence (because we had the Rough guide description), we walked down the village street, which did not look much like something from a movie about the Count, much rather like a place where my grandmother used to live. There even was a small field of plants we thought of as palm trees (known to the rest of the world as maize). Then we saw the signs: dead birds on the road, barking dogs, dog crap and bees. Feeling even more confident, we came to a fork in the road, where we decided not to go left or take the old train track overgrown by shrubbery, but to walk straight on next to the road, which led through a forest. The GIN in his douchebaggy yellow raincoat took the lead until we reached the idyllic village of Gruiu.
In Gruiu, there was a distinctive lack of Snagov, Vlad Dracul, monastery, the lake and anything we were looking for. The prospect of walking back through the dark alley between the trees did not look inviting. Taking the bus approaching from the opposite direction looked like a great idea in comparison. Plus, as it turned out, the driver was a handsome young man whom Ms. K. somewhat fancied. So, as if we were playing some kind of crazy Romanian Monopoly, we went straight back to Bucharest, did not go to the monastery and did not get to see the Count Dracul’s grave in Snagov. Tough luck.