Sunday, 3 March 2013
Day 288 – There’s a first for everything. (Hungary to Romania border crossing)
Having crossed our fair share of uncontrolled borders within the Schengen agreement over the past couple of weeks, it was now time to face our first proper border since entering Hungary before Christmas (Day 273). Still hobbling along on our precariously patched tyre (Blog Day 289 – Threatening to spontaneouslycombust), we were a little nervous about it suddenly bursting during the border crossing process, envisaging all the extra problems this would cause us.
The Hungarian side of the border was unmanned, so we drove straight through to Romania. We were a little surprised by this, having expected that Romania would have been the more corrupt, less trust-worthy of the two countries, but apparently Romania has proven themselves worthy of controlling both sides of the border. Immediately we were shocked at how professional the entire border post was, from the well-maintained modern buildings, to the professionally stern guards who greeted us in perfect English. The man who approached us asked for our passports and car documents, and noticing that they were foreign asked where our vehicle was registered. When we told him it’s registered in Australia we weren’t met with the usual disbelief or confusion, but instead a surprised and slightly amused interest. Apparently he’d worked at this border for ten years and had never seen an Australian car cross it, as if we would expect that he would have! I guess there’s a first for everything.
Very politely he asked us to wait at the side while he processed our passports and documents. “As it’s a foreign car it will take a few extra minutes, sorry for the wait.” What a change from the usual grunts as people wander around confused, handing our documents between offices, obviously completely oblivious as to how to process us, yet usually not once addressing us either politely or informatively.
“Oh sorry, excuse me. Is it possible to stamp the passports carefully in small gaps, they’re getting very full?”
“Yes of course, no problem. I’ll be back in a few minutes,” and he was off.
We’ve asked so many border guards to stamp our passports efficiently and very rarely do they understand, even when we’ve specifically pointed out a gap appropriate for the stamp, but to our delight our very switched on border guard returned several minutes later with our passports neatly stamped and our car documents processed (well actually we have no idea if this was done properly, but from where we were, they seemed to know what they were doing). They weren’t interested in the slightest in searching our car, and the entire process took less than twenty minutes and we were waved on to the border town of Oradea.