BBC broadcasted on Sunday the Top Gear edition filmed in Romania. In the opening, the Brits say they expected the country to be "full of oxex, with people "throwing stones at Gypsies". By the end of the show, they seemed to have enjoyed driving cars worth of hundreds of thousands of euros on Transfagarasan's dazzling twists and turns. Nevertheless, Romania is presented as an exotic country, fairly backward, with the standard images: Gipsies, The People's House, carts and bad roads.
The description of a country full of oxes and people throwing stones at Gypsies from the beginning of the show was not too flattering, showing cattle, carts and countryside roads. "So you'd imagine that turning up in cars like these might look like showing off. (...) Coming here in a car that costs 168,000 pounds is a bit like turning up in Sudan in a suit made entirely out of food", the Brits go.
But then they seem staggered at the number of luxurious cars in a parking from Mamaia: latest Ferrari, Porsche and Maserati models. The sequence ends with a Dacia Sandero driving in the background. Top gear Brits are familiar with it, for they mocked the car in some of their previous shows. They went gentle on it this time, with James May saying "I completely forgot where this car was actually from, I've been thinking about the car for two years!".
Jeremy Clarkson could not pronounce the name of Transfagarasan, about which people spoke "in harsh whispers. They say it's the best road in the world". The three head towards the road that crosses the mountains. But first they end up on the Sun's highway, on their way to Bucharest. They race to see which sat-nav takes them quicker to the Parliament (People's House) and James May is trying to find his way by using a phrase book.
They were all shocked by the size of the building. Commenting about a “mental” Ceausescu, Richard Hammon says: "He had people going ahead of him and painting the leaves green wherever he went".
James May drove a Dacia Sandero, concluding that it was the "essence" of what a car is: "simple", "honest", having all the basic and nothing more, "a happy car" and a "superb" drive. But the direction of the show had the car smashed by a heavy transport car "by accident".
Driving closer to the Transfagarasan, the Top Gear conclusion was that they left behind a modern Romania and were experiencing a "Borat" style type of scenery. A visit in a Gypsy village could not miss from the show, driving on roads with no asphalt, next to carts, plus images with children playing in the mud and writing with their fingers on the dust settled on the expensive cars.
Exotic is the word that best defines the show: invoking that they were lost, they all slept in their cars parked, "by accident" only several meters away from the Vidraru dam.
In the end of the show, they gave gas on Transfagarasan's curves, with an ecstatic Clarkson going: Romania, thank you for having us and can we stay forever?"
Romania is pictured as an exotic country. It shows images of animals walking on the middle of the road, poor villages, carts, unpaved roads. The show leaves the impression of a poor country from afar, full of contrasts. To watch the show, click here, here or here (GB).