Romania 2009

I’m off to Romania tomorrow for four weeks and two days of beautiful, summertime, LP research. That’s right, seven days a week, 14 hours a day of pure driving adrenalin, no meaningful conversations and going to bed at 9:45pm. Dude, I am going to have so much… ibuprofen.

I know what you’re thinking, wasn’t I just in Romania? Like not even a year ago? And you’d be correct. I was in Romania for six cumulative weeks a year ago. (Also a week in Moldova) So, why am I going again so soon? Welcome to the wild, wacky, wobbly world of wguidebook writing!

Allow me to explain: I write about Romania for three different Lonely Planet guidebooks, Europe on a Shoestring, Eastern Europe and Romania (formerly Romania & Moldova). The first two books are updated every two years. The last, every three years. In 2006, I updated all three book at once. In 2008, I updated EOAS and EEU. Now it’s time to update Romania. See? Makes perfect sense, if you don’t count all the extra flying around and repeat fact-checking after such short intervals. Actually, there’s genuine budget reasons for this staggered, seemingly inefficient process, but that doesn’t mean I can’t myopically ridicule the system for my own amusement. Plus, hey, paying work! Baby needs a new pair of crates of wine.

So, it begins again. As I’ve already exhaustively detailed in the past, guidebook work is not always very fun. Oh there’s fun, but it’s offset by long, pavement pounding days, restless nights in strange rooms with Olympic-level snorers, loneliness and, in the case of Romania, an almost sadistic number of hours of high-alert driving. That said, I’ve spent more time in Romania than any other foreign country. It’s like my second home. I’m comfortable there. And I just visited all the major cities for this trip a year ago, so the discovery process and updating will be greatly eased.

For this trip, I’ll be researching the regions of Moldavia and Transylvania. I’ve spent almost two cumulative years in Romania. All told, I lived in the Moldavian city of Iaşi for 16 months of that time, so this is by far the area I’m most familiar with. And Transylvania is, well, Transylvania. I’ve traveled the area pretty thoroughly for both work and play in the past, but never in the absurd detail that I’ll be doing now for LP. My colleague Mark Baker will be covering everything else, including Bucharest, so fire off a tweet to him if you have any good leads.

As always, I’m going to go even quieter on this blog than I already am while I’m on the road, though I will try to tweet almost every day. Unlike Tuscany, Romania is awash in free wi-fi hubs and armed with my trusty Blackberry, I should be in giddyingly constant electronic contact, like Buddha intended.

When exhaustion starts to set in right around the third week, you may not be able to glean this from my weepy tweets, but Romania is just outstanding in the summer. Unspoiled, gorgeous scenery, even more gorgeous people and (by and large) still pretty affordable. There’s the kamikaze driving, apathetic hotel clerks and maliciously unhelpful train station employees to contend with, but overall, it’s going to be a relatively easy (yet still draining) and glorious trip.

Thanks again for sticking with me and my long absences. See you down the Rabbit Hole.