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Here, there, everywhere... A modest attempt at chronicling my around the world adventure over the next year (or so).

Romanian Holiday

ROMANIA | Sunday, 17 August 2008 | Views [560] | Comments [1]

We arrived on our hot box of a train to Bucharest at 6am met by our host Alex. He whisked us away to his wondeful 5th floor flat overlooking a huge park in Bucharest where we crashed for a few hours. Probably the most memorable thing about Bucharest for me was the heat. It was 40 degrees the two days we were there that is 105 for us farenheiters from the states. That is hot even for the heat seekers like Jessica.

Alex our host we did not know much about before arriving. It turns out he is a professional concert violinist who plays all over the world. He was on holiday while we stayed with him so we did not get to hear him play but he promised to send us music at a later date. he and wis girlfriend Lavinia were great hosts for us and even took us out for an authentic Romanian dinner complete with pig skin for an appetizer. We tried it of course and politely refused seconds. Try chewing on a rubber band and you might get the idea of what it is like to eat. No thanks.

Bucharest was becoming very westernized but still had the feel of a former communist ruled country like many we have visited. Lots of great architecture mixed in with hideous reminders of how much soviets did not know about architecture and style. Our first afternoon after waking from the nap we rented a paddle boat and toured the park by the flat. but now before Alex cooked us a Korean lunch with sushi, noodles and cheese. Turns out he has had a few Korean girlfriends, speaks Korean and was traveling to the Philipines on holiday the day after we left. One thing we read about Bucharest before arrive was about the over 100,000 stray dogs in the city. That is probably true based on the number we saw but you could match that number with the number of stray cats we also saw during our stay. Very sad, we wanted to feed and pet all of them but alas they were generally dirty and not fond of strangers.

So now the good stuff. Transylvania!!!

We took a train and bus to Sigishoara, Romania in the heart of Transylvania to stay at a couchsurfing church of sorts that hosts many people at once complete with no running water or toilet (outhouse of course).  I think for us the idea of couchsuring was not with this place because they wanted you to volunteer or give a donation during your stay. But their heart was in the right place because they wanted to promote sustainable and environmentally friendly tourism in this small village. So we donated some food and good energy. This is the birthplace of Vlad Tepes otherwise known as Dracula to the westerners. No castle persay but an old hilltop citadel which was the old city once upon a time. Cute village with lots of weddings happening. We slept on the floor of our couchsurfing location and rummaged through the Dracula shiot kiosks surrounding the citadel. We also witnessed a child almost dying during our pizza dinner that evening because she fell and hit her head. She woke up after some frantic parents splashed water on her but not before she was out for a few minutes. Scary! We also went to this town to coincide with the full moom that evening only to discover a lunar eclipse. Almost as good but not as creepy. We awoke in the morning to wonderful church bells and sunlight and made our way to the old cemetary. It was an interesting place with lots of germans buried in it. We were told many germans used to live in this area for some reason. Back to Bucharest to catch a bus for Bulgaria

Caught the standing room only train back to brasov then to bucharest, it was packed. Somewhere along the way Christmas came early for Michael this year and I got Jessica's eye infection on the train. Did not know it at the time but it felt like I had a rock in my eye. We worked hard at getting it out even laying down in the Brasov train station and pouring water directly into my eye, Dr. Jessica! Decided once we got back to Bucharest if I felt bad we would skip the night bus, stay the night and try to find a doctor.

Train was late into Bucharest (no surprise we hear in Romania), wandered around looking for a bus station and missed our bus anyway so we checked into the $100 Ibis hotel and set off for the "nices" 24 hour hospital in Bucharest at midnight. After a short cab ride and pissy driver we made our way through the masses of people outside the hospital in various states of disrepair. I asked for someone to see my eye which by now was very swollen and hurt very bad and was quickly checked in and they paged an english speaking eye doctor. She diagnosed conjunctivitis (pink eye) and prescribed various drops and ointments, and we were off walking back to the hotel. Cost-$0!  Experience-not too bad I must say. As we were walking back to the hotel because we could not find a cab at 12:30am we were approached by one of hte 100,000 stray dogs in the city (no lie). He seemed happy to see us and kept following us down the street even after stopping to sniff and see other dogs he would continue to follow us and he was happy to be tagging along. So we named our guide Oliver. As we spotted our hotel about one block away Oliver peeled off across the street never to be seen again. No goodbye, no whinning, no announcement, he just left. We decided Oliver was our guardian angel for the night helping us return to our hotel safe and sound. The evening was saved!

Before leaving Bucharest in the morning we went back to the clinic Jessica went to on Friday for eye infection just to make sure her eye was ok. It was but she prescribed some more powerful stuff just in case. We then packed our goods, bought some fruit, checked out of the hotel and caught a minibus to the border town of Silistra en route to Varna, Bulgaria to visit Jessica's friend from Florence Milana. At the border of Romania/Bulgaria we crossed the Danube via a "ferry". Basically a tug boat pushing a barge. It worked and I have pictures I will post. At Silistra we arrived 30 minutes too late for the last bus to Varna. Our bus driver felt bad for us and got us a cab for 110 levra equilivant to about $90 for a 2.5 hour cab ride to Varna. Pretty expensive for us but defintely our best mode of travel for many weeks. After driving around Varna, Bulgaria trying to find Milana's house he dropped us off for the night. Welcome to Bulgaria!



Enjoyed reading the latest adventure! What great pictures of places that I had not imagined looked like they do.Some of the pictures bring what has really happeded in this old world more to light.And, I just don't know why you did'nt bite on buying that place with the wonderful floor sleeping area.Keep on having fun and enjoy. Take care. Love Mom and Dad

  Marge and Lynn (M&D) Aug 20, 2008 11:00 AM

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