During my second week of treatment we drove to the real Draculas castle which is mostly rubble on a hill.  On arrival we had to climb literally thousands of crumbling steps to reach the top of a hillside and then negotiate a less than secure looking wooden bridge to the castle itself. Given the inaccessibility of the site it must have been pretty difficult for Draculas opponents to try and mount any kind of offensive against him. On the flip side it must have been a pain in the arse for him whenever he wanted to go grocery shopping !

The journey from Pitesti to the castle was slow because of an abundance of gypsies and peasants riding along on their horse drawn carts on the road. It was much like the end of “Fiddler on the Roof,” except at least Tevye’s cart had some actual seats on it.  Well anyway there are two types of cart pullers, Peasants who are Romanian village people (YMCA) and gypsies who are dark skinned but to the untrained eye (me) they all look the same. 

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According to my Romanian companions these folks don’t really use money they trade vegetables or wood or other commodities and live like people did in England about 500 years ago or in Yorkshire about 25 years ago.  However one of the conditions of Romania joining the EU was that horse drawn carts be banned from the roads. Now this may sound like a great idea to Roman Prodi and Neil Kinnock in leafy Brussels but half the population live this way and no one has suggested how they should live their lives going forward or provided them with cars, gasoline, jobs or currency.

The Romanians however are taking the same kind of approach to the new laws that the police in Wexford, Ireland took when I was younger to licensing laws and basically not complying with them whatsoever. It was the same in the airport when I arrived. Under the EU smoking in public places here has been banned and the first thing you see when stepping off  the plane is a massive 12ft by 12ft sign that says “EU rules. No smoking in airport” However the people who greet you from the plane, the passport control employees and the baggage handlers were without exception chain smoking in the immediate proximity of the sign.

There are some people who have benefited from the revised laws here even if they are not even remotely being enforced. Typically it was very hard to be a lawyer and took a lot of years of working your way up, networking and corruption and the dentists wife has struggled to get a job as a lawyer since finishing college 4 years ago. Suddenly she has found herself on a level pegging with all the old pros because in order to keep their jobs they have to be re-trained in the EU laws and let’s just say they are not doing so well with that whilst she has suddenly been inundated with job interviews because she was forward thinking enough to study European law.

She wants to move to the USA one day because she feels that her children won’t have much of a future in Romania. I suggested to her that Romania would probably change pretty quickly since it was now part of the EU and that currently their country was going to a transitional period. “We have been going through a transition for 17 years already and not much has changed,” she retorted.  She went on to explain that in real terms people like her father who works at the Dacia car plant earned far more money under Ceacescu than they do under the companies new owners Renault. I had assumed that the French company would have paid the employees better than the company had when it was nationally owned but I suppose I was naive enough to think that within the EU all things would be equal. Romania and Bulgaria are experiencing the new EU where some are more equal than others !

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