On to Romania!!
Bucharest was the first stop. When I arrived, it was just becoming light outside, and the whole place around the train station was deserted. I felt like I had been transported to an ice world, some post-apocalyptic frozen city. A nice street dog approached me, and trotted alongside me on my early morning walk. Then, out of nowhere, I heard a thud and saw a truck zooming off. I looked back to see the dog twitching in its final moments of life, and a few other street dogs surrounding it. This sickening moment was my first introduction to Romania.
Despite now being traumatized to go in the street, things started to look up once I found my way to the main plaza. The huge, rounded blocks of buildings reminded me of pictures I’ve seen of Paris. The streets smelled wonderful. Many little shops sold warm pretzel-like pastries filled with things like fruit, nutella, and chocolate. After a walk around in the city center, I made my way to my destination for the night, Brasov.
Brasov is one of the larger cities in Romania, but it still has this feeling that progress has been suspended for the past 50 years. In the town center, you’ll find a lot of taverns and small shops, and not much else. This was the same for every city I visited in Romania, except for Bucharest. It was pleasant to walk around all day, and then have my pick of places to drink a hot beverage and eat a pastry whenever I got the slightest bit cold.
The experience was much the same in Bran, except there they have a market selling huge rounds of various cheeses and… mulled wine! This is something I wish would come to the US– being able to drink hot, spiced wine on a blistery January day would make this place less dreary during the winter.
Of course, there was another thing in Bran– Dracula’s castle. Oooooh scary. Actually it wasn’t but it was probably the prettiest castle I visited on the Eurotrip. Ol’ Drac really had the best view around.
View from D-money’s Castle:
On a whim, I decided to leave the same night for Sighisoara, a very well preserved medieval town. The train station was an experience, because it’s where the homeless people generally live. In fact, I was there waiting for about 3 hours and I was one of the few passengers hanging around in there. It’s kind of ideal for them, because there are plenty of radiators that they can stand by to keep warm. One kind homeless couple offered to share their radiator with me. There seem to be a lot of homeless kids who hang around here in a pack, and they come up to you and tap on you saying “dai, dai!” which I think means give! I was trying to eat a sandwich for dinner, but by the time all these kids kept coming up and asking for some, I think they got most of it.
My transfer to Sighisoara was a pretty dumb move, because I had no information about the town and just assumed I could find a room at 11 pm at night. Wrong. I knocked on the door of inn after inn and they all turned me away. I felt like I was in that Nancy Drew game where there was a werewolf on the loose, so no one would open their doors to let her in. I’m sure no one gets that reference.
Anywhoooo… Sighisoara was pretty cool, it really was like being in a medieval town. I think the coolest building was this clock tower that was kind of kooky and lopsided, with a brightly colored roof and banners streaming off of it.
In summary, though, I think that there wasn’t a lot of variety of things to “see” in Romania– it was more about the food, and the chipper feel of the place. I wish I had stayed in one place rather than rushing around to see all of these places that didn’t present much new information. Overall, I really liked the country, and it was a highlight of the trip!