Hello and welcome to the The Vega which is a hotel where you’ve probably never stayed, in a place you’ve never heard of called Mamaia, in a country you’ve probably never visited called Romania. Mamaia is a resort on the shore of the Black Sea, it lies on a strip of land around five miles in length and 300 yards wide. The place is packed with bars and clubs and festooned with luxury hotels. It has enormous potential. When I learned that I’d travel across Romania with a Dacia Duster there were many things I was looking forward to. Peasants, sheep, cows, quality food, quality spirits, hospitality and some proper, rural and fascinating history and castles. I wouldn’t have expected luxury and I wouldn’t have expected to drive a Maserati.
We reached Mamaia, on the final leg of our journey, unscathed in budget and high on hopes, because Romania had been a revelation out and throughout. You know the proverbial cherry for the proverbial top of the proverbial cake? That’s what Vega Hotel is after spending ten days driving across Romania. It’s luxury with sybaritic presumptuousness taken out. A non-life-like spot where the Guinness on the rooftop bar is cold and the ambient is hot, in a warm environment in a mildly moist season. Oh gosh, I’ve gone all mellow, haven’t I?
The Duster had been great. Dependable, practicable, iron cast. A worker’s car with no ambitions and no frills. It vibrated and juggled like hell. It was very slow and cumbersome, but somehow so loveable you’d forgive it its little foibles.
And this brings me on neatly to the Maserati Gran Turismo. Maserati Romania had put a Gran Turismo on show outside the hotel, some marketing idea I guess. I spoke to the hotel manager and the concierge and the Maserati guy and the hotel manager again and then the Maserati guy again and after saying, “Please” “Come on, I’m a motoring journalist, I won’t crash it” around a million times, there I was. Keys in and ready to go.
“Go easy, yes?”, said the man from the Maserati office. “The car has no plate and needs to be loaded on a truck and driven to București in a few hours. In one piece.”
I began my brief road test driving like I was wearing white gloves made of glass and as if the car was made of porcelain. I’ve often thought about it and after much pondering I’ve come to the conclusion that this is the one of the best cars in the world. It has everything you need and nothing you don’t. The titanium gray Romanian Maser I’ve driven has a 4,7 L V8 with 440 HP, smooth as silk and as powerful as Russia. And that sound. The ride is sublime; it feels like floating on a cloud of vanilla but it still goes like the clappers. Four seats that can be actually used by human beings with legs, a boot where you can place all necessary things for a road trip, such as a beach towel, some clothes and a .38 caliber revolver. The Maserati is comfortable where a Ferrari smashes your neck and ribs to smithereens, it is rapid and smooth where a Porsche is aggressive and rude. If I had to nitpick, and obviously I will, I can’t get my head around how heavy it feels. The weight, combined with the big engine and the wonderful sound that comes out the exhaust, which will make your right foot feel like it’s made out of granite, means you will need to service it every 15 seconds. It devours fuel like Pete Doherty devours pills. So the big Maser, a bit like happiness itself, is great, but it needs refueling. And often.
An electric green Dodge Viper and a beachfront property in Santa Monica, a bright orange Spyker Aileron and a condo in Monaco, and a burgundy Alfa 4C and a villa on the hills in Florence. Every man has a secret dream garage and a secret dream metaphorical trittico (hot car + posh abode + superhot chick; please note preference for superhot chick may very). Out of three aforementioned examples I pick Alfa + Florence, I’m a bit biased I know, you pick yours. Add your own, if you like. But I’m afraid you’re gonna have to consider one more option.
Beachfront lodge in Mamaia + Titanium gray Maserati Gran Turismo.
It’s up there with in top tier, trust me on this.
words & pics: Alessandro Renesis
copyrighted material© – please don’t steal it
words & pics @PrinceAle
photos taken on location in Mamaia, Romania – September 2010