My Romanian Journey
Out of Cappadocia
At Istanbul Airport
Story of an American Traveller - Meeting with Jay
Struggle to Convert Kuna
Bucharest airport is
relatively small airport for the capital of a country and managing the
communications in the airport was not issue. Instead of taking a bus to
the train station, decided to take the train from the airport (mini bus ride
for 10 minutes from airport to airport train station). I got a glimpse of
the Romanian spirituality when I started with a Romanian guy (Alex) traveling
from the airport to the train station. Alex was returning from Ottawa,
Canada from his two week training camp for the NGO work and he was indicating
that the west is very materialistic, no one was spiritual there. Only after
seeing the small status of Jesus in the mini bus, he was happy and he's glad to
be home. Alex's home is Transylvania and going in the same train to
Brasov. On our way to the train station, he was talking about time during
Ceausescu and after he was toppled how the infrastructure is crumbling.
He invited me to his home in Brasov as well as willing to give us ride to
the hotel from the train station. The Romanians are very spiritual and I
could see that whenever we cross the church in going in the bus, you can see a
whole bunch of people do a quick prayer ;-)
Arriving at Brasov
Visiting Dracula's Home
and Jay indicated that he's going to explore Brasov. The breakfast at the hotel was decent but I got woken up by the noise of people going to the breakfast area in the morning. The hotel staff was not very helpful in getting my laundry done or getting more information going to places around the area, so decided to check out the tourist information center at the city center to figure the way around. The girl, Iuliana, at the Information center was very helpful and informed that there's no need to go on a package tour but I could manage by myself going on the bus - also provided the bus information to go to Bran, where the Dracula castle is located.
Visit to Rasnov
There is nothing
impressive about the Rasnov fort but the view from the top was really good.
We took the fun train (tractor pulling a few carriages) to the top to
save time and we took the same train to come down after spending about 30
minutes in the fort. We were not sure whether the bus to Brasov will
stop, so decided to walk back to the Rasnov town to catch the bus. It was
getting closer to 5pm and we were worried that we may not back in Brasov for
the walking tour, so we decided to try hitch hiking to the town. First
couple cars that passed us were full and almost an empty van with two elderly
couple didn't stop but after crossing us they stopped at about 25 meters.
We started running towards the van, we found out later that they stopped
the van to take pictures of some birds but seeing us running towards the van,
they gave us ride to the city.
Back to Brasov
On the way back to Brasov, I was thinking about Jay and wondering what he had done that day. Since the hotel is right on the city center, checked with the receptionist whether she had any news about Jay but none. While waiting for the walking tour, there was flag lowering ceremony kind of a thing was happening at the city center at 6pm with music and marching band. The guided tour of Brasov was excellent, walked for more than 2 hours and at the end of the tour I was totally ready to hit the bed. Went alone for dinner near the city center area and dinned with a couple of guys from Jordan touring Romania. By the time I was back from dinner, Jay was in the room and we talked about the day and the plan for the next day. Even though, Jay had some money, he didn't spend any because he was paranoid about the next two days.
More (Sad) Stories from Jay
Jay's Trouble in Turkey
Encounter with Romanian Red Neck
Whereas the Romanian guy who was sitting next to me took out the water bottle from my backpack and poured some water in his water cup without bothering to ask me. I thought that it's fine but when I was trying to get my backpack ready to get out of my station, he was arguing with me in Romanian and didn't want to give away the water bottle. Don't think that he was a poor guy but very well dressed character and the couple sitting across from us having their laughs because a few minutes back he just lied across on the seat putting his legs on the aisle. Whoever was trying to walk on the aisle had to hop over his leg and he's not responding to anyone asking him to move the leg. Once the drunken man was trying to go to the other side and I was afraid that he's going to hop over but luckily he decided to go to the toilet on the other end of the train. The conductor didn't seem to do anything about these and not sure how to handle these kind of characters in the train. I wished the good luck to the couple sitting across from me because they were traveling with this non-smiling Romanian guy for the next 8 hours.
Hunting for Hostel @ Mid-Night
The German guy managing hostel Mario, Marios, asked me whether I was interested in staying in an apartment, asked him how much it would cost me and he told me that same amount as the hostel (<US$30). He wanted to check with his friend whether she has any availability and it would be very close to his hostel. Remember that whole discussions were happening in German and sign language at mid-night ;-) An elderly German lady (I forgot her name, let’s call Mary) showed up in less than 5 minutes and we three (Marios, Mary and I) left to her apartment after I sent myself an email what I was doing. With all of the dumb things that I may do, I try to compensate with a few close to smart things ;-) Mary has two apartments in a big building, while staying in one of the apartments with her husband who works with Marios, she rents the other apartment
Train Trip to Sibiu
Gypsy King Funeral
When started from the
hostel for the funeral, we have a group of seven people lead by the hostel
staff Mark and we all excited about the King's funeral -
it's a surprise to all of us that there's a king for Gypsies. It's a long
walk to the new part of the town and gave us exposure to the real Sibiu.
When we reached the king's home, there're not thousands of people for
that matter not more 150 people in that area but the slowly the crowds started
to gather - mostly spectators not Gypsies. There're about 500 people in
that area at the maximum and a lot of Gypsy gentleman very well dressed giving
TV interviews to a number of TV channels. The president of Romania was
attending the funeral to pay respect to the king and we were just 10 feet
away from the President of Romania.
There're a lot police but we
couldn't spot any security around the President and a lot of people can get
very close the President. The funeral procession was supposed to start at
1pm but there's no sign of that at 1pm, there're about 500 people in that area
at 1pm and we didn't think that the funeral procession anything great, since we
already spent 2 hours there, we wanted to see the King but the French guy lost
their patience and left. I was sitting on the railway track bridge for
some time and not patience, we all decided to wait there 'til 2pm for the
funeral, if not nothing happens, we'd leave at 2pm. Nothing happened at
2pm so we all left to visit a local market place we saw on the way to buy some
fresh fruits. Later on we read in the internet that thousands of people
were there, which seemed to be publicity news and not the real numbers ;-)
Walking to the other
side of the town and waiting under the hot sun made us tired, so most of us
bought some fruits in the local open market and after having lunch @Lucas,
we went to the hostel to take rest. Lucas is one of the best sandwich
places I had been to in Romania and there're a lot of vegetarian choices there.
On the way to the hostel Monica, Pia and I decided to rent a car to drive
in the Transfagarasan the next day and I was the driver because none of them
know how to drive stick shift.
After taking rest at the
hostel, I came back to the center to enjoy the Middle Ages festivities and see
some of the local attractions. The whole center was filled with local
merchants and middle age related shows and music. Also, there's a rock
music band was playing in a different section of the center and a number of
friends from the hostel were there. While I was having a quiet moment
enjoying the Middle Ages themed music at the center, I met Hugo from the hostel
there and we left to have some beer. Hugo was an IT consultant,
travelling by bike from Netherlands and planning to cover Romania, Ukraine and
Georgia in the next 2 months. He was planning to visit his girl friend's
place in Taiwan and after that planning to backpack in Burma in the next six
months. We talked for long about the IT consulting work in Europe and how
it is different from US before going back to the hostel.
There're a lot police but we couldn't spot any security around the President and a lot of people can get very close the President. The funeral procession was supposed to start at 1pm but there's no sign of that at 1pm, there're about 500 people in that area at 1pm and we didn't think that the funeral procession anything great, since we already spent 2 hours there, we wanted to see the King but the French guy lost their patience and left. I was sitting on the railway track bridge for some time and not patience, we all decided to wait there 'til 2pm for the funeral, if not nothing happens, we'd leave at 2pm. Nothing happened at 2pm so we all left to visit a local market place we saw on the way to buy some fresh fruits. Later on we read in the internet that thousands of people were there, which seemed to be publicity news and not the real numbers ;-)
Field Trip to Balea Lake
literature talks about the road being gravel road which is wrong. We never felt that the road was dangerous or we were taking a lot of risk (me being the driver). The scenery is amazing and we stopped at the Balea Lake for an hour to have lunch and enjoy the views.
some pictures and continued toward Curtea de Arges. The view of the Transfagarasan dam simply amazing and we spent more time there than in the Balea lake area. In such a beautiful area, the Romanian put an ugly Iron Man statue which does not suit there ;-(