recently my girlfriend`s daughter and her friend took a trip to europe. the girl is eighteen and though there is the sual trepidation one has for young girls traveling alone, the first week of thier journey went without a hitch.
they landed in amsterdam and then went to germany and austria briefly before taking the train to budapest where her father`s family is from.
from there they wanted to briefly see romania for some reason before getting to why they really wanted to go to europe....the greek islands.
so they planned to board the train to romania but were dragged off forceably at the last minute by a woman yelling at them to keep away from the gypsies....
the next train they boarded was apparently gypsy free, but as soon as the train pulled out a man positioned himself outside thier compartment and began a litany of suggestions and threats that my own disgust makes me refrain from typing.
once off the train they found what they thought was a cab, but the man proceeded to drive them out into the country and held them ransom for an amount approximating $600 canadian.
if this wasn`t an account coming from my girlfriend regarding her daughter i would have discounted the story as being a tale worthy of a bad hollywood revenge movie.......not unlike the film taken, with liam neeson, miscast as an action hero in which his daughter is abducted and forced into prostitution by gypsies.
ironically my girlfriend and i watched the thing a couple of weeks ago.
anyway, in summation one can rage against the police in romania or travel authorities or whomever for not warning the girls , but i can only thank the woman who forceably got them off the first train or they might have found themselves in a scene from the film we watched.
and the police? they would have wanted a share for the money.
how do i know this? i have a friend who moved here from romania 15 years ago who told me that her family hid from the police if they saw them for fear of a shakedown, or worse, depending on the officer`s mood.
in canada we live in a coddled little bubble where our major bookseller chapters refuses to carry the book dangerous places by robert pelton. instead they carry bright, shiny tomes promising a welcome to young tourists with canadian patches on thier back-packs.....come to eastern europe and experience the nomadic tribes people of slavic descent with thier rich heritage of cooking, dance and wine.
they are off to greece next where i feel they`ll fair somewhat better, unless they take another taxi-ride into the countryside of another non-anglo-saxon country.