15 septembrie 2011

From Corfu to Wien: Eastern Europe by car. 3rd part: across Danube

Well, I have no intention to give very many details on how to drive from Corfu Island to Vienna, crossing Northern Greece from West to East, Bulgaria from South to North, Romania from South to West, and Hungary from East to West. However, I feel that it might be interesting to underline some peculiar features of driving this way, which shows common Eastern features, and might be useful particularly for Western European travelers. Also, Greek, Romanians, Bulgarians, and Hungarians may see what they have in common and what makes the little, but important differences. In the end of the series, I will underline a couple of nice Eastern futures, which provide to be better off than in the West.

Please note that the following include only my personal, non-systematic observations, and should be treated as such, not as a scientific truth. At their best, the beneath comments are an “educated guess”. (Remember that I am a sociologist :)!)

Part 3. Crossing Danube

Crossing Danube is an experience in itself. The two neighboring countries, Romania and Bulgaria, are separated by the large river, with only some 100 kilometers land border, in the East, near the Black sea. Over time, there was a bridge over Danube in the West, built by the Romans which where conquering Dacia (North of Danube, in nowadays Romania), around the year 100 AD. The bridge was intentionally damaged when the Romans retreat in 256 AD. Then, a new permanent bridge was raise up in 1950s. The communist regimes in the two countries named it the Friendship Bridge. It connects Rousse to Giurgiu, at 60 kilometers southern Bucharest.

The EU gave money to build a second bridge in the mid 1990s, but the two countries have not reached an agreement of where to build it until recently. So, the Friendship Bridge is the main connection between the two countries. There are two lanes for the cars: one comes from Romania to Bulgaria, the other goes the opposite direction.

Currently they have ongoing maintenance works. Coming from Bulgaria, we had to wait some 90 minutes to cross the bridge. It was nice: a long queue, several kilometers long. We were among the first ones in the queue. Some SUVs made by BMW, as well as regular BMWs, with Romanian number were coming on the other way, And sneak in the front of the queue. Romanian and Bulgarian border police contemplated this condescentely: "they had expensive cars, so they are entitled to do it".

Previous post in the series: Romania. Next one: Better that in the West!
The whole series (6 posts) is available here.

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