The afternoon I
arrived the lounge was swarming with gypsy musicians, Bulgarian students and a
congress of Hungarian shoe salesmen. In one corner I spied three elderly
gentlefolk perched on those awful high-backed chairs, playing a desultory game
of Scrabble—in English.
"Where can I
find the East-West ski party?" I asked them.
They looked up,
astonished. Connie and Ted introduced themselves. "Oh no, dear, there
aren't any British skiers in this hotel," Connie explained, her sequined
bosom heaving with laughter at the very idea.
Sobadjeff!" snorted Ted.
Connie went on,
"Sinaia isn't a ski resort—it's a health spa. We're the East-West senior
citizens party: we've come here for the cure. You know, mud baths and all
that." She fished out a brochure about Rumanian geriatrics. "In
Rumania, we are experts at fighting the aging," it stated.
join us for tea and Scrabble?" asked Kathleen, a gentle, white-haired lady
in her 70s. "I do believe we're to be roommates."
frantically toward the bar. "Better stick to tea," grunted Ted.
"The whiskey here's a pound a shot."
The four of us
dined together to the strains of a melancholy gypsy violin and went to bed
early. "Poke me if I snore, dear!" said Kathleen gaily. She did; and I
Next morning I
had myself moved to a single room and wept on the sympathetic shoulder of
Madame Anna, our amiable Rumanian tourist representative: "Spent all that
money, came all this way, expecting a ski party, and now not a single skier in