Mugging in Romania (ish).

If your planning to mug a traveller, you ideally need to do it within the first ten minutes of their arrival in a new place. During that brief period the traveller doesn’t know their arse from their elbow and is basically the easiest target they will ever be (until the next city anyway). After the initial shock of arrival, the body and mind quickly adapt and adjust to their new surroundings, picking up on the vibe of the new location.

Knowing this is important to anyone who is, or is planning to be, that traveller. Being aware of your vulnerability during that time can save you a lot of money, frustration or pain. You can be mugged in more ways than one and the worst mugger of all will probably have a smile on his face and appear to be one of the most charming people you’ve ever met. Learning how to keep yourself safe during this period of susceptibility is an evolving subject and, as with all subjects, its best to start with the basics.

To gauge your personal vulnerability you must assess how long it took you to tell someone to go forth and multiply, at your first destination. If it took you 10-15 minutes , then my friend you have ‘target’ written all over you and you need to wisen up. If however you can look the perspective mugger squarely in the eye, at the point they first clock you (and before they even think about  approaching you), and smile at them, whilst every atom in your body says ‘listen shit for brains, don’t even consider it, look the other way and F off’, then you are moving in Jedi circles and should consider buying a cape.

Why do I mention this…well I’ve just been sat feeding my face and saw Mr week 1, day 1 new traveller turn up in Bucharest and it was like a pack of piranha set about the carcass of ‘McDonald’s biggest fan’. I picture him currently sat naked under a flyover somewhere, feeling like a violated, bruised but slightly wiser young man.

So learn quickly, expect the un-expected and you should never get caught out.

Or so I thought….

I saw the situation with the young guy happen at Bucharest rail station. I’m off way out into the sticks to visit the Trovant stones (rocks that are reported to be alive?). There is conflicting information on the exact location of the stones, but I know roughly the point so decided to head there and figure the rest out once on the ground. To get to the region requires you to take a train ,so I  did so and it was during this journey that I fell for one of the oldest (if not the oldest), tricks in the book, with regards to causing a bloke to part with his cash. It’s a trick you are all familiar with but its so subtle that it has a virtual 100% success rate…its called ‘Women’.

So I’m sat on the train and it’s the 4 seats facing each other in pairs configuration; most of the other seats are taken up by women or their offspring. A couple of hours into the journey the final empty seat next to me is taken by a lady in her mid 50’s, who speaks English, and we start chatting. she asks me where I’m going and I explain about the stones. She says she is unaware of them and at this point the young lady opposite me joins in the chat and says she comes from the village where I’m headed and the stones are definitely not there!

The two ladies then open their phones and begin searching; they converse in Romanian and occasionally ask me for some information. I’m told the exact location I need to go to and that’s where the mugging commenced. The women now have a mission; they have a poor defenceless idiot who needs organising. There is more tapping on phones and this emergency signal triggers the mothering instinct in the two ladies sat on the opposite side of the carriage, who join in the rescue mission and also begin to furiously consult with google.

The gaggle then developed a life of its own with Romanian being spoken at warp speed and the occasional wisp of smoke coming off phone keyboards. This hive of activity naturally attracts attention and before long a woman from the next carriage had joined in along with the train guard, who was also a female.

From the group I would occasionally receive the look that is normally reserved for people with fatal illnesses or Aston Villa fans, with the odd question or statement thrown in.

As the situation grew I was struck by one terrifying realisation “this is really going to cost you Millsy lad”; this thought was then supported when the original lady sat next to me asked “do you have money?”, followed by her wiping some dribble off my chin.

Me crying never had the effect I was hoping for, as it just seemed to double the speed of conversation and virtually melted one of the older I phones. All of a sudden everything went quiet and with the precision of an Olympic synchronised swimming team, all surrounding women turned and looked at me. This must have created some kind of energy field, as I know for a fact that I felt (rather than heard), my credit card creak under its influence. The hive seemed to speak with one voice and it informed me that I was to stay on the present train for another 2 hours….

“Well er ok…but I’m quite tired from travel and will just get off at this stop and….”

I was immediately cut off and the next piece of information came at me.

“The train guard will not charge you for the extra stations, she will take you to the ticket booth when you get to our selected destination and book your 0700 train for the morning” said the hive collectively

“Ok …well thank you, that’s very kind ..but I was just thinking..”


“The Ramada???? But …I have a tent,..honestly I’m fine…I don’t need to..” Mumbled I.

But at this point the hive dissolved, having achieved its aim. The foolish male traveller had been organised through its collective wisdom and the chakra that is obviously created by money leaving a guys wallet had been produced, thus allowing each separate entity to return to running its own part of the universe.

So I was eventually dropped at the Ramada hotel by the train guard!! I paid a small fortune for a room for 7 hours, before I had to catch the train I had been booked on. I did however have breakfast with the Steaua Bucharest football team who were in town for a game tonight and staying in my hotel (which may indicate its prices).

As I type this I’m sat on another train feeling slightly violated, a bit bruised but a little wiser and in some strange manifestation of Stockholm Syndrome, I have to say a ‘thank you’ to my guardians x.