Tired from spending the previous day manhandling the Corvette around potholes horsecarts and mountain hairpins, I pulled back the curtains of my hotel room and saw the town in which I’d spent the night for the first time. Borsa, a modestly sized place in Northern Romania, looked more appealing that I’d expected from the nocturnal drive in. Weary though not totally worn out buildings nestled in a groove between the mountains, Heavy set, pale-skinned locals went about their mornings while chickens rummaged in backyards beneath the window. After an intake of caffeine we hit the road at 9am, the road climbing out of Borsa into a magnificent tree-lined mountainscape; a winter wonderland hidden far from the beaten track.
The snowbanks towered several feet high at the sides of the road as the Corvette roared its way up the mountain, snaking around the hairpins and punching along the straights, the view ahead being filled by our friends in the Rolls Royce. At the summit, over 1,400 metres high, a solitary church stood sentinel, then the road unraveled its altitude, dropping sinuously to the obscure village where the Rolls Royce suffered its first puncture.
After making sure their spare was fine, Team Corvette left the Rolls in a tyre repair shop and headed out east alone, as ever enjoying the freedom of not convoying with the sluggish Rolls. The hills made way for flat plains as we approached the Moldovan border, and we joined the local traffic in the enthusiastic overtaking attempts which seem characteristic of everywhere east of Austria. The roads ran out about ten miles from the border, and we bounced across gravel and puddles in the general direction of Moldovia, the Corvette parting herds of sheep as we asked directions from their confused Shepherds, eventually finding out that we’d arrived at a rail-only border, and had to crash our way along another 15 miles of rutted tracks to the road border further north, which the Rolls had reached earlier.
A flurry of Corvette-related photo opportunities for the border guards sealed our exit from the EU, and soon we arrived at the entry to Moldova, where the border guards were predictably prickly, immediately denying the corvette entry due to a lack of greencard insurance, despite having let the Rolls Royce enter the country under similar circumstances half an hour before. Half an hour of negotiation and impasse, threats and persuasion coaxed the door for the Corvette open on a promise to buy insurance half a mile up the road, where Team Rolls Royce were waiting. Brummy strolled out of the night as I pulled up behind their fine English vehicle.
‘We’ve been here half an hour,’ he said. ‘The saleswoman’s been getting so confused trying to enter all the information into the computer; she actually punched the keyboard at one stage. If you rock up now and try to buy insurance she’ll probably have a fit. You won’t believe what we found earlier, by the way.’
‘Another car as puncture-prone as your Rolls?’
‘You could say that. We were driving to the border and I looked in the rear view mirror and thought I was going mad. I was sure I could see the front of my car but couldn’t figure out what was going on. I mean, what are the chances of meeting another identical Rolls in Eastern Romania?!’
‘Yep, another Silver Shadow 2. British registered as well. We pulled over for a chat; the Moldovan guy driving it had bought it in London as a present for his dad, shipped it to Romania, and was driving it home to Moldova from the port.’
‘I know that guy, I was chatting to him at the border,’ Kim said. ‘He’s studying in London and is home for the holidays, his dad seems to own half the businesses in Moldova. His Rolls is with the customs, and his brother is giving him a lift home from the border.’
Still somewhat amazed by the coincidence of meeting another identical British-registered Rolls in Eastern Romania, I decided to brave the insurance lady, who’d calmed down since the stressed attempt to buy insurance for the Rolls. All was going fine until a second , rather drunk, Moldovan woman started hurling abuse at our stressed saleswoman from outside the office, gradually getting more and more aggressive until she burst in and commenced a physical attack, punching and ripping the glasses off the face of her victim. Fortunately, the combined strength of team V8Nam pulled the squabbling babushkas apart, the police were called, and our Rolls Royce-owning Moldovan friend arrived with his brother and pretty much completed the insurance paperwork for us, while repeatedly saying how embarrassed he was in his country. A policeman soon arrived, witness details taken, insurance documents completed, and we hit the road into the Moldovan night, blindly following our Moldovan saviors’ Vauxhall Insignia through the night to a hotel in Chisinau. Being young and local, these guys didn’t hang around, and I was glad of my 5.7l V8 as I raced to keep up, the Rolls often falling behind into the night. 90 minutes of dodging potholes as they jumped from the darkness later, we were rolling along the wide boulevards of Moldova’s capital to a hotel, with a dinner date arranged with our local friends for the following day.
Which is in a few hours time. So I’d better stop blogging and get ready for my first glimpse of Moldova in daylight….