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June 13, 2007

Danube lunch

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Calarasi. A decrepit restaurant in an useless port to Danube, rusted tugboats, spicy fish and cold wine.

Doug wrote a couple of years ago:

Calarasi — it’s pronounced kuller-osh, don’t ask — is the poorest city in Romania. Here’s what the Lonely Planet has to say about it:

"The surreal entry by road from the northwest beneath an ungainly ‘bridge’ of rusting conveyor belts forming an intricate maze to the city’s steel works, says it all about this city. Largely industrial, the town offers absolutely no reason to come here except to catch the next ferry out — across the Danube to Ostrov, from where you can cross into Silistra in Bulgaria."

This is perhaps a bit unkind.

[...] The aforementioned steel works — this is something that is really, truly amazing. It’s an enormous industrial complex, covering many hundreds of acres. There are great vast factory buildings with thousands of windows; miles and miles of enormous metal pipes; huge conveyor belts, big enough to drive a truck along, hanging suspended dozens of meters in the air. Off to one side is a dock — the quay is 600 meters long — designed especially for the steel works; cranes dangle over a canal dug especially for the factory, reaching several kilometers to the main branch of the Danube. Sitting in the middle of it all is the cooling tower of a power plant — not nuclear, I don’t think, but big as hell anyhow.

And, holy weeping scrod, it’s all dead dead dead. The factory windows are broken and the cold January wind blows snow through them. The special canal is covered with an unbroken scrim of ice. The immense pipes are brown with rust and have collapsed in several places. Pieces of the conveyor belts have snapped and are hanging off. It looks like the set of a movie — a bad, but extremely expensive movie — about a post-apocalyptic future inhabited only by vampires and mutants.

I didn’t see all that. Only a decrepit restaurant in a useless port to Danube, rusted tugboats, spicy fish and cold wine.

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