Travel 2008 – Bucharest, Day 3

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Saturday, 30th August 2008 – Bucharest, Day 3

Saturday was when things got serious and the weirdness had to be put on hold though not before we’d found a Dacia that had obviously been on its roof, prompting the question “How did the driver get going fast enough to do that?” Lynne’s theory was that someone had landed another Dacia on top of him… He seemed to be having a long conversation on his mobile about it, possibly calling the Romanian equivalent of the RAC, possibly saying something along the lines of “Dad! I’ve broken my toy!” The sight was amusing and it diverted us for a while, anyway.

Again we had a reasonably easy schedule, this time with practice starting around 10.30 and a race late in the afternoon, so there was a lot of time to kill so we spent some of it taking the piss out of Kristjan Einar – well, given the t-shirt he was wearing some of us reckoned he richly deserved it…Some of us are old enough to remember the Cod Wars, after all, and Robert and I both come from towns that were badly affected by them.

The press office was well-connected this time with a super set of large screens showing the on-track action, and enough timing screens for us to manage. The one downside was that someone at MST, or TSL as they now seem to be, keeps forgetting to set the live timing running for our events – at least for the first few minutes. Because there were sufficient screens – and because we’d managed to get the seats next to them, it wasn’t too much of a problem, just mildly annoying. The wifi worked a lot better than at Spa too… even if Lynne’s laptop was trying to claim to be connected to the Rockingham press office – which would be a pretty damned impressive signal range. Despite the press office working well there were some rather ad hoc arrangements being made around the place, especially by TV crews and photographers.

After lunch – pasta again and very tasty too – there was a lot of time to kill and some of it was again spent at the Tango with ice cream and the obligatory cold Transylvanian beer (and before you ask, no it wasn’t red and no it doesn’t taste of garlic)!

After that there was a lot of milling about in the paddock largely because the organisers wanted to put the drivers in open cars and send them round the circuit, much as they do with the F1 boys. Drivers were slated to do that or the autograph session, no arguments, no complaints, full race kit despite the heat. They weren’t too happy about it but most of them accepted it without complaint (apart from Brendon who bitched and moaned about the heat – then again he is probably the palest Kiwi in the world). They’d all been told about it but they were still late turning up, which wasn’t helped by the fact that the cars went out onto to circuit about seven minutes ahead of schedule.

Even so it’s like herding cats trying to get a bunch of drivers to where you want them when you want them.

The upshot was that some of them were missing, which meant Fiona got a circuit ride instead! She wasn’t complaining, sitting in the back of a shiny new Renault (or was it a Dacia by Renault?) waving like the Queen!

Practice and the race are described elsewhere but the real treat afterwards was watching the winners come to the press office for the press conference. To a man (boy?) they all looked completely stunned by the interior, even Salman Al Khalifa, who you might think would be used to that sort of thing!

By the way, as he’d just won his first race, I gave him a hug. I suspect this is in direct contravention of Bahraini royal family protocol, but as he didn’t seem to care, I don’t think I’ve caused outrage back in the Arab world. At least I hope not! I suspect you also aren’t supposed to stand around with members of said Royal family discussing the plastic surgery jobs on the grid girls. Whatever the case, my remark that you could tell which of them had had boob jobs because “real women wobble!” cracked him up completely. That wasn’t the only odd thing though – Lynne’s laptop claiming to be connected to the Rockingham media centre network (and with excellent signal strength) was pretty strange too mind you. That would be one hell of a signal range, is all I can say. We buckled down and got the work done as quickly as possible and then headed back to the hotel to shower, shoot the clothes we’d been wearing, and go out for dinner. This time our choice was l’Harmattan, a small Morrocan/French establishment round the back of the old town, and suffering from the fact that the road outside is still a hole in the ground a year and more after we last visited. It means they don’t get a great deal of passing trade and they can’t put any tables outside so that people can enjoy the warm evenings (much the same applies to the St. George). Whatever the cause, at 8.30 on a Saturday evening there were only two other tables occupied when we arrived, and the situation pretty much stayed that way all evening.

There was only one choice as far as I was concerned. I started with the aubergine salad and tried not to wolf down too much bread with it.

And then for Lynne as well as me it had to be the couscous royale…

With a massive bowl of cous cous, lamb, merguez…

And a skewer packed with more lamb, and a wonderful vegetable packed sauce.

It’s a wonderful build it yourself dinner.

And after that, to the hotel to sleep it off, though we did get side-tracked by some of the other hotel guests. It appeared to be entirely packed with racing people this year so if we do go back next season – which looks doubtful at the moment sadly – we’d better book early.

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