Into Day 2 of our Romania roaming, and still no new Good Beer Guide ticks. Famed pub visitor and alleged GBG completist “Pubmeister” seemed unaware of the secret overseas Guide entries that Mr Protz would occasionally insert in the Guide to maintain interest.
These entries are only revealed by a sticker in the window, NOT an entry in the good book itself, due to complex Norway ++++ type restrictions.
So I’d have been happy to trudge around the backstreets of Bucharest looking for possible GBG pubs and finishing in the Mikkeller, where a third of black sour DIPA costs the equivalent of the average weekly wage.
Mrs RM was having none of it, arguing we needed to explore, and remembering the emergency remortgaging we’d been forced into following our Norrebro evening last year.
The walk to Bucharest North was not without incident due to dodgy paving. All I’ll say is Simon is not the only one with a dodgy knee he doesn’t like to talk about.
I made Mrs RM stop every few minutes so I could capture some nifty street art, which didn’t help matters.
In fact, we spent the whole of Wednesday morning trudging the mile to the main station and then negotiating the complex queueing system for tickets that, thrillingly, made Northern Rail seem competent for a while.
And Mrs RM was a bit grumpy as she’d secretly wanted to take the coach to the Bulgarian border at Giurgiu to tick another country off. She’s a bigger ticker than me, she really is.
I was keen to visit Ploiești, the Middlebrough of Romania, and a place about which the Rough Guide had nothing kind to say.
Once again, coffee and cake came to the rescue.
And things perked up further on the slow train to Ploiesti, as we first found ourselves in the wrong seats and then were entertained by a procession of vendors offering Romania poetry (in English) and a motley collection of tat (see top). I bought three marker pens for a quid.
90 minutes to travel 37 miles as the crow flies. Not even a craft beer at the other end, so we walked the mile past attractive WWI villas to the Vienna Café, to be greeted by that reassuring sign;
A classy looking place, with a young waiter who was a bit too excited to see his only lunchtime custom.
“Any local beers ?” we asked in our best English.
“No, sorry, just Becks” Even he seemed disappointed.
He left us to put on a tape of a Romanian act covering Morrissey’s “Everyday Is Like Sunday” (honest), while we perused the local specialties.
Oddly, we passed on the bull balls and Becks in favour of some more traditional meat and a bottle of Transylvanian Red.
Tremendous service, tasty food, great coffee, all for about £25. Phone ahead if you want them to lay on the Imperial **** especially.
Sadly, I can make little case for Ploiesta, which made Middlesbrough look a bit like Whitby. Apparently the oil museum is interesting. Mrs RM and I both thought this was the architectural highlight;
Still, you have to explore, don’t you ?
With an even longer train journey back looming, we decided the New London was worth a look. And it was.
A cross between Crossroads motel and the Ritz, we entered to power-dressing oil executives and table service. And cushions.
But at least they had strong Romanian “Craft Quality” beer, albeit courtesy of Heineken.
Nicely served in respectable glasses, with deep house bubbling away in the background and a feeling we were on the set of a lost episode of “Hustle”, this was one of those experiences that make up Life’s Rich Paegant. Possibly.