02 December 2009
We’ve had incredible luck with our cars on this trip until Romania. The Opel Corsa did us good in Estonia and Latvia and the Volkswagen Polo somehow managed to carry five Anglos from corner to corner with very little effort. The story here, however, is quite different. First, we paid nearly twice as much per day for a Dacia Logan. If you’re thinking to yourself, “what the heck is a Dacia?” that’s because you have never and will never EVER purchase one. It is Romania’s national car company and the Logan represents 50% of sales not because it’s “that good” but because it’s “that cheap.” At $36 a day it was by far the best deal we could find, though if I had known it may mean the end of me, I might have splurged for something NOT awful.
Lets start with the radio. One hour into our journey it just stops working for no reason at all. Mind you, this is a road trip and no music means listening to the sound of the exhausted motor as we crawl up and down winding roads. This leads us to plugging a mini speaker into my iPod and setting it in the cup holder. While it’s barely loud enough to hear, it’s better than nothing. The radio does come back to life at random moments but within ten minutes it begins its slow and depressing death once more, flickering on and off, in and out until all noise fades away completely like an engine running out of gas.
Romanian drivers are THE WORST. They dart out into the road, pass on blind turns and have no sense of personal space. As such, a horn would be wildly useful. At one moment a man driving a horse-drawn carriage leapt into oncoming traffic using a whip and his middle finger. I went to blast the horn only to find that there is, in fact, no horn on the steering wheel. Instead, the button in on the blinker bar., meaning you have to simultaneously hold on to the steering wheel at 10 and 2 while reaching around with your pinky finger to “show em’ who’s boss..” Good one Dacia. Good one.
The windows were fogging intermittently because it was cold outside and hot inside but also because the car is a piece of crap. I went to turn on the AC only to discover that the button is, in fact, permanently wedged in the “on” position. Thankfully (I guess) that’s where we wanted it).
Do you want to back up? Well, pay attention. Reverse is where 6th gear should be and there is no 6th gear.
How about inclement weather, like the snow storm we came across in the depths of a Transylvanian night? Switchback roads, half-working headlights, a broken fog lamp and a snow storm. Things you need: windshield wipers and wiper fluid to keep the windshield clear. Things we don’t have: wiper blades and wiper fluid. That meant a horrific screeching sound as the metal rods glided spastically from floor to side. Floor to side. Screech! Screech! Slam! Screech! Screech! Slam! I pull the “trigger” to spray some washer fluid. Nothing. I try again. Nothing. We pull into a service station to buy the necessary items as I curse the mafia-esque man who rented us this piece of [expletive] car.
I chalk up my survival to paranoia, fear and sheer luck. Next time, I want something NOT made in a former Communist country.