So there we were. We had managed to navigate Dulles, Istanbul International, and Franz Lizt Airport in Budapest. We had climbed Gellert Hill and lunched in a cafe on the top of Castle Hill in Budapest. We had bought toilet paper and a new/used European cellphone (to replace the piece of crap sold to us by Telestial which had stranded us at the airport without a way to call our rental car) in a city where we didn't speak a word of the local language. We had driven our rental car south into the famous Puzta, the westernmost vestige of the great Eurasian steppe, to see Hungarian czikos demonstrate their once-famous horsemanship (and gotten lost following Google directions in a small town in southern Hungary, and gotten directions from the locals without, may I remind you, speaking a word of Hungarian -- only this time, the locals didn't speak a word of English, either!). It was time for us to cross the border into Romania . . .
Other than livestock in the middle of the road, you know you are in Romania when you see the churches.
Large cities in the plains immediately west of the Carpathians retain their Catholic cathedrals as well as Orthodox metropolitans and generous sprinklings of Lutheran, Calvinist, and Unitarian followers.
My little brother warned me before I left that I had been writing fantasy, not even historical fiction, and I shouldn't expect to find my fantasy kingdom waiting for me across the ocean. I fully expected that he was right, and wanted only to see for myself just how far wrong I was. It's true that much of Romania has indeed entered the 20th, if not the 21st century. We are quickly glossing over, for instance, our visit to Timisoara's Iulius Mall, proof positive that Eastern Europeans are far too eager to imitate the worst an American lifestyle has to offer. Still, one can only ask for so much. I didn't expect my timewarp to get me all the way to the 17th century. I was delighted to find that on the whole, I COULD get back to a very nice 1930. Which just happens to be about when my novels actually take place. This, I could live with, providing I could find a little more Chinese food.