Well here I am back in Bucharest after three weeks out and about. It certainly feels different than it did the first time around. I am viewing it from a different perspective.
The last few days have been spent in Brasov and Siniai. Brasov is an old medieval town which retains it’s old character. Despite the ingress of “franchise world” in the form of mobile phone shops and sports wear shops (sound familiar?). The architecture is fabulous though. With narrow streets and fabulous building frontages, once you get above eye level, a super town square with council house and clock tower in the middle, and street cafes of course. Quite relaxed and surrounded by hills. It really is well worth getting up above the town to view it. The historic city wall and bastions that were looked after by various guilds e.g. Blacksmiths, furriers, weavers …etc, are all still visible today as is the town plan. Far less touristy than I was expecting. However, it is does have a retail security bubble for those wishing to visit it, but wanting a bit of familiarity. There is also an excellent collection of good quality, reasonably priced restaurants and bars to keep you satisfied.
The town certainly has a different feel to it. Transylvania, the county it is located in does feel slightly German, as it should from a historical point of view. The building designs are different and you find German spoken quite frequently, not just Romanian.
As for Siniai. It was very cold today, just above freezing. I was looking around Peles castle. A turn of the 20th century construction in German style (there I told you) built by the then King of Romania. It was very plush and richly decorated indeed. High quality stuff where ever you looked. The carpenter in charge really out did himself. The style and use of wood was superb, from intricate spiral staircases to marquetry pictures of German castles (there you go again).
Then a 3 hour train trip to Bucharest on the old slow stopping train. As opposed to the fantastically smart and brand new “rapid” train with reserved seat that I caught this morning from Brasov to Siniai. Progress is definitely being made on the rail infrastructure side.
A nice wander around Bucharest this afternoon, Coffee in the park people watching and organizing the museum viewing plan for tomorrow before my flight home.
And of course locating yet another Internet cafe.
I will send this last section now as I am unsure I will have time to send it tomorrow. Here it is anyway.
Well that is it for another holiday. I hope you have enjoyed readying my adventures over the past three weeks. Its certainly been entertaining from this end I can tell you.
It seems like I have been away for 3 months not 3 weeks. I seem to have achieved so much. Landing in Bucharest seems such a long time ago.
Romania and Moldova will definitely leave their mark on me. Its not just Dracula, orphanages and 1950’s concrete blocks. Yes they are here but it is much much more than that in actual fact. Full of rural beauty and tranquility as well as medieval cities bursting full of character. And a rich and varied history of ups and downs over the many many years that both peoples are proud of and do not forget.
Both countries are reserved, very trustworthy and friendly people. They are always willing to lend a hand when asked and help you out, without being overbearing or gratuitous in any way.
My mind is full of happy memories. In October 2005 both countries have been very kind to me. Some would say lucky (err … very).
However, what the future holds for both countries is unclear. Chatting to numerous Romanians they are all fearful of joining the EU. They feel the Romanian people are sleep walking into a world they are not yet ready for. They state their clear rural Romanian identity will be destroyed through legislation, more bureaucracy and new rules and regulations. Perhaps the EU will achieve what Ceausescu did not. Who knows? Whatever happens, it will not be the same place in 10 years time. However, change in Romania like every other country in the world including the UK, is perpetual. Look where they were in 1989 and where they are now.
As for Moldova. The Russian influence is very apparent, from language, Cyrillic script to food, attitudes and customs (including corruption … big style). Who knows where the defining line is, between the ruling power of government and the illegal muscle of the mafia? The people are a stoic bunch though. They have endured much and will continue to for the foreseeable future. I wish them well. Including the young girl who was on the same bus as me, as we crossed the Moldovan/Romanian border at Sculeni.
Enough somber thoughts for now.
Both countries are great places to visit right now. So go out and book a flight and see if I am wrong. From rural beauty to historic cities and villages. Food, wine, beer, coffee, cakes, tripe soup (of which, I have 2 tins to bring back with me). And any mode of transport you can think of. From walking, horse and cart, cars, vans, minibuses, small lorries, buses, huge lorries, trams, trolley buses, slow trains, fast trains and aircraft. I hare tried them all here. Accommodation has ranged from bed and breakfast in peoples houses, to dormitories in hostels, hotels and a train (remember that), Any more information or questions you want answered just let me know.
As usual I need to thank a number of people. They include:-
For getting the time off work so I could do this in the first place. The many many people who have helped me whilst I have been here, making things easier for me in whatever form that took at the time. Bus drivers, minibus drivers, lorry drivers and anybody else who I have hitched a lift with. Friendly border guards, the young nun in Orhei Vechi, Vitale Richco in Ieud, the super hotel receptionist in Iasi, CNtours near Zarnesti and the 2 wolves…etc. The list is endless.
Most of all though thanks once again to a very patient and trusting Alie. She is very keen for me continue my exploration of the world. I love her very much.
What is the secret to my continued success at travel and adventure?
Having thought about this on and off for most of the holiday, my latest and best solution can be described as follows:-
Bare your soul, travel with an open mind and have trust in your fellow man. Above all, appreciate every single moment, whatever or wherever it is.
Check my website regularly. As it will be updated with a few pictures, soonish.
Until the next time, where ever and when ever that may be.