A dash to Bucharest airport

Watch that ox...
27 August, 2008
Page 49 
It is almost 10 years since Gerard Barnes, then buyer for UK retailer Sainsbury's (now of Raisin Social) and I were in Romania, tasting wines.

It was a five hour car ride back to Bucharest to get our flights, his to London, me to Munich. We were both looking forward to getting home. Romania in late October is bleak and Gerard had been on the road for some time in eastern Europe.

The winery MD told us he couldn't drive us as one of his workers had died and the police were crawling all over the fermenters, where the body had been found. So an old Mercedes taxi came, leaking oil with a driver who had never driven beyond his village boundaries and only spoke Romanian. The driver explained, as much as we could understand, that we had to pick up his brother. He needed someone to tell him when he could overtake the numerous ox-drawn carts. The brother would hang out of the back window and shout: "Now! Go for it". It was a long drive and Gerard was obviously going to miss his plane. Plan B was: he gets on my plane and then on to London.

We arrived and I convinced the airline worker to keep the gate open. We had to run to the gate. When the drinks came round, we downed a glass of Champagne in pure relief. Oh, the joys of travelling.

Liz Stich, managing director Europe for Cumulus Wines

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