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Romania

Border crossing used: Targu Frumos (between Pascani and Iasi)Border process / hassles: Our first mildly problematic border. Total time, about 2.5 hours:

Exiting Romania:
No queue – but a more thorough check exiting than arriving?  Usual doors opened and checks of various bags and boxes and usual questions about narcotics, weapons, and did we have more than €10,000 – “I wish…”

Minor issue with the vehicle VIN. After verifying that the car was a Land Rover the guard disappeared into an office, and when he returned he went straight to the front of the chassis on the drivers side. I assume he had access to a database showing where VINs are by model type. I never had a clue we had a VIN there?
Ours was covered in two thick layers of wax-oil – attempting to slow the progress of 17 years corrosion. The guard called me out and we both tried various pieces of paper and card, wiping and scraping but not getting through the thick goo. Admittedly I let the guard try harder than I did. He too gave up in the end – but not before he covered himself in the stuff.
I’d already shown him the windscreen and under-bonnet VIN plates. He now made do with those – and then disappeared to wash his hands whilst we disappeared quick into no-mans land.

Even with the VIN issue – still only a 30 minute process.

(I have since used a scraper and brake degreaser to reveal the – thankfully correct – VIN on the chassis, should we run into the same request again).

Entering Moldova:
Despite multiple requests to our UK insurance company they had refused to issue a Green Card.

“We don’t do that anymore” (I imagine this delivered in a high pitched, nasally whine….)

We had a document that stated insurance covered “European Community Members” and not my preferred “Sings in Eurovision”, which would cover lots more countries and save a lot of hassle and expense.

The Moldovan guard asked for the green card first off, and rightly informed that whilst Romania is a Community Member, Moldavia is most definitely not. Without the card we could not pass…

After some discussion they agreed to let one of us through, with the vehicle, to purchase a green card from the insurance booths 500 metres inside Moldova, whilst the other remain as a human security deposit.
Cheryl started to make the obvious joke and then wisely thought better of it.

“Can we pay in Euros?”, “No, only Lei”, “Romanian Lei?”, “No, Moldovan Lei”.
“Can we change money here?”. Thankfully the answer was “Yes”.

We had tried several times during our Romanian transit to purchase Moldovan Lei, but were thwarted by refusals or closed banks all the way. With hindsight – we could have tried that bit harder?

Meantime they had a good nose around the vehicle, asking what we were planning to do in Moldova?

The correct (easy) answer would have been “transiting to the Ukraine”, but we mumbled stuff about a 4 or 5 day stay in Chisinau, monasteries, caves and vineyards….

This elicited a “I think perhaps you are wine specialists, and your vehicle contains specialist wine equipment?”. Wine espionage…!
We offered up the contents of more boxes (kitchen equipment, shoes) to prove otherwise, but I kept the corkscrew hidden…

I then went to the cashiers desk in the adjacent building, queued, and when it was my turn to change currency, was told I needed my passport, which the border guards were holding. Back to border guards hut, knocked on the door frame and explained my predicament. “Wait!” and the door was closed…

Obviously not their priority we tried submitting Cheryl to the cashiers mercy, armed with a laminated colour copy of her passport, and after what Cheryl described as a “minor hissy fit” from the Cashier, she emerged victorious.

By now, there was a bit of a vehicular log jam behind the Land Rover and one of the guards had taken pity on us and was showing us what to do and where to go to purchase the required road tax. They relented on the “one person go, and one person stay” idea, and said we could just go, but MUST purchase the green card from the booths.

I drove slowly out and spotted a “Cart Verte” sign pointing to a building with a  weighbridge outside.

“Cart Verte?”, “Eh?” etc, etc…
Finally he asked for my passport and then rattled off some other request.
“Four or five days, maybe six” I gamefully suggested, alternating between four, five and six fingers.
This produced an incredulous response and a request to see the vehicle, followed by a demand to reverse the vehicle back onto the weighbridge to get it weighed?

Fortunately our saviour, in the form of a construction worker, appeared. He spoke good English and translated my request for a green card.

Turns out the Cart Verte sign was bogus.
This was a weigh station for goods lorries.
He had been asking the dumb Englishman how many axles his vehicle had, and received the surprise response of somewhere between 4 and 6.
Laughs and high fives all round….

A few hundred metres up the road were multiple booths selling insurance.
Fifteen days cover, the minimum, was just 100 Lei – about £5.

The whole Moldovan process still only took about 2 hours though…

In summary:
The border guards were all reasonable friendly, some were helpful.
Money change is available at the border. We did not note the opening hours. The rate was comparable to banks in Chisinau.
Moldovan Lei we found hard to come by in Romania, we should have looked harder?
We did not see any obvious opportunity to buy a Moldovan green card in Romania – and there was nothing just prior to the border.
There are multiple opportunities to buy insurance after the border, and they did only accept Moldovan Lei.
Ignore the “Cart Verte” sign that points to the weigh station!

Tax to pay: We had to purchase road tax at the border.
Pay the same cashier who changes money in exchange for a chit, and this is used to obtain the tax form. 91 Lei – about £4.5.

Seriously – they should triple this and fill in a few more pot holes…