Slow Train To Ploiești


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.

Romanian Banksy
Loads of buildings like this

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.

Ploiesti.  Not as far as Timisoara, but far enough

Once again, coffee and cake came to the rescue.

Better than they look

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;

Refreshingly expensive

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.

No, you try them

Oddly, we passed on the bull balls and Becks in favour of some more traditional meat and a bottle of Transylvanian Red.

Had to, really
Food as art

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;

Apparently inhabited

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.

“New” London

A cross between Crossroads motel and the Ritz, we entered to power-dressing oil executives and table service.  And cushions.

Actual London cushions

But at least they had strong Romanian “Craft Quality” beer, albeit courtesy of Heineken.

That Craft gets everywhere
retiredmartin – making Stella glasses look classy since 2018

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.



30 thoughts on “Slow Train To Ploiești

  1. Is that lower case title a first on here ? And if so is there any significance to it ?
    I’m beginning to think that having a dodgy knee is a prerequisite for being on here.
    “We passed on the bull balls in favour of some more traditional meat” – Horse balls ?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve got a dodgy knee too. But obviously I don’t like to talk about it.

      That New London looks OK although it does have the appearance of a Marston’s new build near a shopping centre.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Actually I’ve got TWO dodgy knees but I was only going to have a partial replacement of one of them.


    2. I used it for the Northampton Lithuanian restaurant as well. It could mean something significant, but actually it’s just because I haven’t got a letter s with a squiggle on my keyboard, so had to copy it from the map in lower case.

      As long as meat isn’t described in a scary way I’m fine with it. “Tripe” sounds fine to me.


      1. Lamb pastrami sounds good and I’m strangely drawn to the Dacic polenta balls. I’ve had fried bone marrow and it’s not as bad as it might sound. I’m with you on the bull balls though. That “ask the waiter” sounds a bit sinister to me.


  2. Admire your urge to explore. Think I might have asked the waiter about those balls. Never been there but being kept entertained by your posts. Also admire the ingenious lengths you went to to ensure the Alexandra in Halifax was closed this week. Presume you suggested they needed an urgent refurb. You were wasted in the NHS! Did one today that was all keykeg.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Bucharest certainly has some fine looking buildings. I read that during the interwar period, the city was known as the Paris of the east. Unfortunately that nice Mr Ceausescu had a sizeable chunk of the historic old town demolished, and thousands of residents displaced, to make way for his monumental Palace of Parliament.

    Have you visited it yet? I’m sure Timbo could turn it into the largest Spoons in the world!

    Don’t discourage Mrs RM from country ticking. I’ve got a couple of places earmarked this year, although I’ve still got most of Eastern Europe to tick off!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. So many delightful moments, but maybe the bit that made me laugh the most was this one, in its simplicity: “Any local beers?” we asked in our best English.”

    Was the ‘Every Day is Like Sunday’ cover in English, or translated into Romanian? Something in me dearly wants it to have been the latter.

    Last winter I attended a get together with a bunch of guys I knew back in high school, and noted that all of them, to a man, were drinking Stella Artois. I began to imagine they’d all made some sort of pact.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh good question. “Sunday” was sung in English in what I took to be a faltering Romanian accent. Other stuff was equally weird, which is just what you want, of course !

      Stella has taken over from Bud, I guess. Except in Britain where it’s now Peroni that’s the average Joe’s choice (controversial view there).

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, and I can’t help but notice how many customers in the Titanic pub two miles from me drink Peroni.
        Maybe they think it’s brewed in Italy and therefore must be good.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Well, as they keep drinking it it must be, er, except that a “lagerboy” might be afraid of tasting plums in Plum Porter.


  5. Great comments (post not bad either for someone with a dodgy knee)…

    Am I too late to disclose my dodgy knee? Seriously – it’s not just that I didn’t want to feel left out…

    Fried bone marrow and bulls balls sound delicious (it’s a wonder Heston hadn’t thought of that one)…and such a nice change from polenta…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. “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.”

    Impressive! She can annoy a whole country from right on the border. 🙂

    “we passed on the bull balls”

    Over here they’re usually called sweetbreads.

    “Apparently inhabited”

    By what, ghosts?

    “That Craft gets everywhere”

    They’re ‘crafty’ that way. 😉

    “this was one of those experiences that make up Life’s Rich Paegant”

    Very deep that.



    1. “Over here they’re usually called sweetbreads.”

      Just a hunch Russ – but I guess sweetbreads was chosen because it sounded a bit more appetising…?

      I think Wychwood Brewery once did a beer called the Dogs Sweetbreads (to use the alternative, more pallatable term)…



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