Well here I am Brasov via a little hamlet in the Transylvanian mountains called Magura.
Sighisoara is but a distant memory.
On this trip I had always planned to go to the Carpathian large carnivore centre which was due to open this year as stated in the guidebook. However details of its location were very vague. On to the internet to do some searching. Only to draw a blank. Information seems to dry up after 2003. I then decide to ring the only number in the guide book that could possibly help. A German sounding man answered the phone and confirmed there was “no such thing as the Carpathian large carnivore centre, but If I could get to Zarnesti train station he would pick me up and see what he could organise for me. So off I went and two trains and three hours later there I was at Zarnesti station. He then took me to his house in Magura where he and his wife runs holidays for anybody who turns up, like me.
Here is the website (www.cntours.ro) it comes with my recommendation. A super place with friendly people. And the location is just superb. Mountains to the east, mountains to the west and south is full of a harsher, earthier more rugged version of Austrian alpine meadows, all in full autumn colour under a clear blue sky.
As we chatted over evening meal it turns out there is a sad story to tell about the Carpathian large carnivore centre. I will not bore you with the intricate detail but the ingredients of the story are: the very last eleventh hour, council elections, new mayor, big business, a quarry, oh yes, and some money. I think you know the outcome.Sad indeed.
However, on the bright side, two of the wolves destined for this centre are still alive and well and living in their own enclosure not far away. I was then asked if I would like to join the joint lady owner who had to go and feed them tomorrow (Wednesday) as “they would be getting hungry”. After a nanoseconds thought I answered, YES PLEASE. My luck seems never to end.
Sure enough on Wednesday we went in the car to the enclosure. And there, waiting to be fed, were the two wolves.
What a magnificent spectacle. Armed with my video camera (side note time, my ordinary little normally trusty Nikon digital camera packed up over a week ago now so I have had to rely on the movie camera,heho.
Anyway, as well as trees and stuff I have a close up (I was a couple of metres away) of one of the wolves with a five Kg chunk of meat in its mouth measuring 30cmx30cmx10cm. My respect for them has increased even further. A close up the sharp teeth in their mouth will live with me for a long time. OK they were behind a fence but that was for my benefit I would have been killed otherwise as would the lady owner and she has known them over ten years. One wolf can easily take out a fully-grown horse so the fence was for my protection.
Truly a wild and very special moment.
Today I spent most of it walking in the tranquil wooded autumnal mountains and managed to spot a very rare black chamois. Halfords would have been very impressed.
The little wooden cabana in the hill was a treat. Somewhere to eat and sleep right in the heart of the hillside. Coffee, beer, soup, bread …etc. Whilst there I also got chatting to a couple of Israeli’s. They said they had given up on hitching lifts and catching trains as they had had loads of trouble. They had resorted to hiring a car. WHAT? It is so so easy. Or is that 55 countries of experience and a slice of luck or two speaking.
Got the train back to Brasov from the local station at Zarnesti this evening. Then the number 4 bus remembering to buy my ticket from the booth next to the bus stop and to stamp the ticket in the machine that goes “ping”, and have an idea of where to get off. This I did, and it was straight to the hostel I wanted to stop at. They had a bed in a dormitory room available. I dumped my bag and got my free one hour internet token (hence the reason I am writing this now).
Yep it really is that easy. No difficulties, no problems, no hassle. Anybody could do it. Well I think so anyway.
It is Brasov tomorrow. Some historic city places to visit and then may be another train journey in the evening to Sinaia.
Speak to you soon.
PS: Dracula and the associated tourist industry really does give the totally wrong impression of Transylvania. To find out what it really is about you will have to come, won’t you.