Friday, July 30, 2010

Village, festival and new plans

or how we discover more and want to discover even more...

I need to say I'm enjoying travelling with a company. The journey can be more attractive and funnier once you find people who think in a similar way, want the same you want and have a similar attitude to travelling. And they bring new ideas, as well.

Yesterday we got to Biernat, a medieval village. We were travelling on a mini bus, with some funny drunken Romanians and a nice girl, who helped us to find a camping place when we got to Biernat. Well, it turned out there's a festival in the village presenting local cuisine and culture. That's why a lot of people came there and many campings were already busy. We had a luck to meet a German women who invited us to her garden in the next village, Richis. She and her husband drove us to their home and were very hospitable. We got a delicious honey, tee, coffee, home-made alcohol. They told us a bit about their life and attitude to the Romanians (the man is German, as well, although born in Romania) and in the evening we all discussed various topics, sitting outside and enjoying the peaceful village life. Oh, there were 4 German girls, as well. They've been travelling for about a week now, heading for Istanbul on a small bus. All of them very nice and original. It turned out that Zofia met one of them few days ago in Budapest. Well, the world is small.

The night in the tents was cold but it was a new experience to be woken up by a crowing cock. And a fresh aroma of coffee. Oh, I wish we could stay there longer, in the middle of nowhere, where life seems to be simpler, nicer, calmer, more attractive...

We had to hurry up to catch a bus to Biernat, 6 kilometres from the peaceful village. The place was still bit asleep when we got there, but it was getting louder and more crowded. The festival was supposed to begin at 12 a.m. Some were already preparing their stalls with honey, cheese, bread or traditional clothes, some were still building up a stage for the outside concerts. We met 2 German guys who worked as volunteers, taking care of Romanian kids from poor families. They were with them on a camping for 10 days. And filled up our bottles with fresh drinking water:)

The bus to Medias was suppose to leave at 1 p.m. So we spent a lot of time in the village, trying various kinds of cheese, honey (with cinnamon!), visiting the famous church from the medieval times and just watching the preparations to the first festival in this place.

Now we're in Sighisoara. A must-see!! As nice as Sibiu, attractive and breathtaking. I'll write more about it later. Now – we have new plans again. We're heading for St. Anna Lake – one of the most beautiful places in Europe, as the guidebook says. Well, we'll see if it deserves this description.

Colourful streets and local quisine

or about our visit to Sibiu and Medias...

It's finally sunny! We stayed one day in Sibiu, which is so far the most beautiful place I've visited in Romania. The old town, full of colourful narrow streets, wide squares, old buildings with wooden shutters and the ubiquitous German language. It used to be an Austrian city, now still a lot of Germans or Austrians live there and even more come to stay here just for few days or hours. Exploring the magic of the old town, we found also old donjons. In one of them there's also a gallery presenting the life of German craftsmen who stay in Sibiu.

Of course we had to capture the unique atmosphere and took many photos. We were lucky to see a large group of young Romanian soldiers taking an oath on the main square in the old town. What surprised me, was the fact that there were a lot of women among them.

Sibiu makes you want to stay there longer, walk more and more, discover more and more attractive streets, watch the local people with more attention and just enjoy your time. With no pressure, no duties, no worries.

Nevertheless, we decided to continue our journey and set off to Medias. This time we got on a train without a ticket, as we reached the station too late. And then the ticket inspector demanded from us only 10 leis, instead of 19 pro person. Gave us no tickets and put the money to his pocket...

Medias is deffinietely not a 'must see'. But a 'why not see'. It's a small town with a colourful old houses and small square. We spent a lot of time looking for a supermarket to buy something to eat for the following day. Finally, we got to Billa and we found also a very cheap bar next to eat with fresh Romanian food. And I tried mamaliga for the first time. Delicious!

Our next destination was Biernat. Still on the same time. More about it in the next post...

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


or how wie visit caves in Turda and walk around Cluj again...

The only problem with travelling is that you have no control and no influence on what's happening far away from you, back home. This time my strength and independence were crashed a bit because of a few unpredicted events. For a short time I really felt I should/need/want to get back, my energy disappeared, my optimistic atitutude vanished, as well. But after a while I regained what I lost. There's no point to give up, to resign from fulfilling your dreams because of a temporary crisis. My independence and strength were rebuilt and I could move on. Hope that this time stronger than before.

But before that happened I met my friends finally. Visiting Cluj with them was a slightly different experience. We climbed a hill with a citadel, were we found many trees with fresh plumps. It as rainy all the time, but we enjoyed our free lunch anyway. And my friends agreed with me - there's really not much to see in Cluj, few hours are enough to see the city.

So today in the morning, before we left to Sibiu, we went to a nearby salt mine in Turda. There's a park down there, with a football pitch, mini golf, boats, bowling and many other attractions. I must say I didn't want to go there but I really liked it after all. Soemthing new. Quite spontanous but fun. And finally in a rather rural area.

Now we're leaving to Sibiu, this time we'll stay in a hostel, as well, because the camping is quite far away and we don't have much time.

Now I'm really happy I'm not alone anymore. I wouldn't have regained my motivation and strength to continue my journey so quickly if I had spent those without my friends. So here's the next advantage of travelling with a company - they make you keep going, whatever happens...

Monday, July 26, 2010

Cluj Napoca

or it's time to change some things...

I'm already fed up with cities, I really want to go to a countryside. But I'm in Cluj Napoca now, waiting for my friends. Zosia's friend (don't know him yet) is coming today, Zosia is coming tomorrow in the morning. Then few more cities in Transilvania and then finally countryside! Can't wait to go there.

Waiting for the guys to join me, I've already explored the city. Well, it's not amazing. Many churches of various religions, crowded streets, more tourists, life going on faster then in the Timisoara or Oradea. Classical music was played from the loudspeakers on the square, where the Orthodox Cathedral and the Theater is. And the fountain show accompanied the music show. You could hear all the most popular musical compositions – the one of Mozart or Beethoven. I stayed quite a lot of time on the bench near the fountain, listening to the music and then reading a book. The walk around the city didn't take much time and I'll have to do it again tomorrow. Oh, well – I want to do it again, to visit the city with my friends this time.

And it's the first and probably the last time when we're staying in a hostel. It is quite nice, with a kitchen, so we can cook, with a small breakfast and many young English tourists. But still – I prefer campings, especially in the summer.

Tomorrow – the boring Cluj Napoca sequel. Or maybe it won't be boring to explore the city again, because this time I won't be alone. And it's high time to do a short break from travelling alone.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Rain, sunflowers and my infallible intuition

or: how I get to Oradea...

I wrote that I was happy that it wasn't rainy or windy or stormy and… suddenly the weather changed. The evening in Timisoara was quite cold and rainy, windy, stormy. But my tent survived! Which means I'm not so bad in pitching a tent:) Actually, nothing really happened to me or the tent, it just got wet and there was no time to let it dry in the morning. Never mind.

When I got to the station I was quite surprised that I don't have to wait 3 hours for the train to Oradea. There was a train in less than hour but I didn't know that as the online schedule didn't inform me about it. I knew how to ask for the ticket in Romanian, but then I didn't understand the numerals (the hour, price). Of course, I know how to pronounce the basic numbers, but the lady was speaking quite quickly and I didn't get anything. So she had to write it all down, as she didn't know English or any other language, which didn't surprise me at all. I think I need to improve my Romanian:) Or better – just start to learn it more efficiently:)

The train to Oradea passed through many small towns and villages, through fields with corn, cereal and sunflowers. Sunflowers! A crazy amount of sunflowers! (Btw- my favourite flowers:) I read somewhere that sunflowers are quite popular among Romanian and especially in rural areas they tend to eat a lot of sunflower seeds. So far I've noticed only one lady eating the seeds – in a small shop on a train station in Timisoara.

After 3 hours I arrived to Oradea. This time I just had to walk about 20 minutes to get to a school that functions as a hostel in summer. Of course, I didn't book anything or didn't e-mail them to make sure the information written in the guide book is still up to date. And it wasn't. I talked to a man I met in the school (again – Romanian only) and he said there's no chance to stay there overnight. It seems the school was being renovated. Whatever. I just kept on walking. I knew there was one more school but it wasn't on the map. So I asked a girl on the street if she knows anything. Well, she just knew I had to cross the bridge and probably go to the right. Fine for me. I walked down an empty street, looking for anyone who could give me some more information. But here was no one. I just followed my intuition and... suddenly I noticed the school. It was exactly on the street I'd been walking down for the last 5 minutes. Good luck and divine providence were with me.

It seems the place is not popular among tourists. The man at the reception was thinking and talking a lot with another man before he told me about the price (10e) and gave me the key. Well, I don't care. I got what I wanted (I dare say: “as always” :)

About the city itself: I must say I'm bit disappointed. Yes, it's nice, yes, it's quite calm and yes, there are many interesting places. But most of them quite neglected – old palaces that need to be renovated, a damaged synagogue, old tenement houses. There are of course many renovated and colourful buildings and fairy-tail-like palaces but somehow they didn't catch my attention. The main square was quite empty (because of the rain), the cafe gardens were waiting for new guests and tourists that disappeared suddenly. The city seemed to be frozen or rather washed away by the rain. I realized, you don't need more than 3 hours to see everything that is worth seeing here. If I had known that it I wouldn't have stayed overnight here, but it was too late. Anyway – where would I go? I was suppose to go to Cluj Napoca on Monday evening to meet Zofia the next day early in the morning. And there was no point to spend more time in Cluj than 2 days an not enough time to visit other places, bit far away from Oradea. So after all, I was quite happy to stay overnight in Oradea. At least I had my own bed. What a luxury:)

Saturday, July 24, 2010


or all the good sides of travelling alone...

I was quite surprised yesterday when I got off the train. It was 9 pm and still bright:) I found the trolley bus quickly but there was no schedule. So I found some Romanian who could speak English, but they knew only which direction is the centre. Ok for me. It's where my camping is, as well. I got on the bus, without the ticket, as all the kiosks where closed already. There was no information on the bus neither. Only a plan of the lines, but without the stop I needed. Well, nice. I asked two girls if they knew anything about the camping or where the bus stop is. First, they where shocked that someone was speaking English with them, then they finally realized they know where the stop is. Ok. I'm safe.
Well, no really. Didn't really know where to go to find the camping. So I went straight on, looking for the right street. After few minutes I got there.

Now the shock because of the prices (yes, it is only 10 leis, but there's 20 leis for a day for a tourist tax. Madness!!!), then the annoying mosquitoes, then pitching a tent (it was first time when I've done it without any help! Maybe it's not perfect, but it is! I hope it won't be rainy or stormy or windy – then my tent may fly away:), then a shower, shower, nice shower with hot water and a small frog, I don't need anything else! Time to get some sleep. It was a long day.

In my dreams I saw my tent flying away because of the strong wind, I saw it soaked up because of the rain, I saw strange Czech (???) neighbours from another tent who tried to do some harm to my tent (!!!) and many other crazy things... But I slept well.
And here's a good side of travelling alone – I have so much space in my tent, just for me! I can be messy, put my things everywhere and no one cares. There are of course more advantages of travelling alone – e.g. I decide! No need to compromise, no need to ask, encourage, argue... I rule! Of course, I'm happy to meet my friend from Poland soon, and I'm happy to meet my Romanian friend, too. All has good and bad sides. Well, there's one thing I don't like about travelling alone – no one can take a good photo of me:) And I would like to talk to someone from time to time, share my experiences and adventures. Maybe that's why I'm writing so much:)

Oh, I was supposed to write about Timisoara. Yes. It's quite nice. I'm sitting in a centre now, using free Internet. It's Piata Victorei. There's a theater, Orthodox church (peaceful inside, many are praying, many just visiting), too many pigeons, a clown selling balloons, people enjoying their free time on the benches, in the cafe gardens, by the fountains. The time goes by slowly. Few steps further there's a next square, Piata Libreti. It's not so colourful any more and there are more local people than tourist (they invaded the city afternoon, and I've been here since the morning). The next square, Piata Unirii, boasts an array of colourful walls of old buildings. There's a Cathedral, opposite you can find a healthy mineral spring with many people filling up their bottles. There are shops with ice creams, cafes, many banks. And it's hot. Too hot for me to explore the city. That's why I spent the hottest hour in the shade, writing my blog:)

I found a market with fresh fruit (bought some), fond a bakery with fresh bread (bought some) and realized that the life in the city remains me of Banja Luka, a city in Bosnia and Hercegovina. Yes, I like it. And yes, it doesn't make much sense to spend here more than 2 days. So I'm leaving tomorrow.

I didn't expect that many people would speak English or German here. I can't say I can speak Romanian, I can't even say I'm trying to learn it, but I know the basic phrases and so the communication on the street or in a shop is quite successful.

Now it's time to explore more. The hottest hours are gone. So I can move on now.

They say no, i say yes

or how I get to where I want to get...

I'm in Romania! The next dream comes true. But before I got here...

In Budapest I was told there were no more tickets for a train to Timisoara. Hot do you mean no tickets? Everything booked? I don't believe it! (Pity that the man couldn't speak English very well...). So I bought a ticket to Lokoshaza, the last station in Hungary on the way to Romania.

And I got there with an earlier train, thinking what should I do next, if it comes out there are really no tickets to Timisoara. Go to Bukarest? Arad? Wait and get the train on the next day? Get on the train without a ticket and buy it there?

After 3 hours I got out in a small, peaceful station in Lokoshaza. It was extremely hot on the train, the opened window didn't help much. I asked a women in the cash desk about the train. She didn't speak any language I know, I can't speak any language she knows. But I managed to get all the information. And I got the ticket to Timisoara! She didn't even check if there are still free places or not, just took a pen, a piece of paper, filled it in and gave it to me.
After few minutes I was lucky again. There was no information on the station about the approaching trains. I had to watch carefully the passing trains and then ask several times if it's the one to Timisoara. Again – I can't speak Hungarian, they couldn't speak English or German or any language I know, but it was not a problem!
I was on the train. And it was empty!!! Where, oh where are all these booked seats? Where is the full train the man from the cash desk in Budapest was talking about? Where?
Sometimes it's good no to believe everything you're told.

After a while I got to Romania. According to my plan. And here more adventures happened...

(One more thing - all the posts from Romania will be without pictures. I had to take as little with me as possible, so I left all the cables and a card reader at home. Photos will be uploaded later. More less in the middle of August:)

Thursday, July 22, 2010


or some kind of introduction.

It's high time to begin the next journey! The idea came more less a year ago and in February I decided I just have to go to Romania this summer. And I didn't care if I go there alone or not, I just have to be there:)
So the time has come. And I'm going alone. I don't mind, though with a partner I would hitch-hike there rather than go by train. But well, it's not so bad after all.
I'm leaving from Vienna to Budapest. Then the next train will take me to Timisoara. And I'm planing to buy tickets in each country on the train, so to make the journey bit cheaper:)
After few days Zofia and her friend will visit me in Transilvania and after a week, when they're gone, I'm visiting my Romanian friend. And then the next part of the journey begins. This time towards the Danube Delta, passing through many interesting places. And then – probably alone again – I hope to get to Marumaresh or Bukovina.
It's a bit pity that I have only 4 weeks for my journey. To get everywhere I want to, I would need at least 6 weeks. Well, I'll leave a piece of Romania and Moldavia for the next time. And hope it will come soon...
But for now – farewell Vienna, welcome new adventures!

Monday, July 19, 2010


or about the local tradition and wild nature...

There was a weekend in May when our crazy trio, Zofia, Magda and me, reunited. And when the next journey took place. This time our plans were changing quickly and intensively. First, we wanted to go to the mountains. But the plan failed because there are no trains on weekends to the town we wanted to get to. Then we thought about going to the Lower Austria or to Graz and the nearby caves or to a lake. All in all, we headed to Neusiedler am See and then by bus to a town called Apetlon. We went on foot to the nearby Landscape Park with a lot of small lakes and wild birds. On the way, we had a chance to see a local wedding with a kind of procession, leaded by the married couple. Their guest were walking behind them and at the end few guys kept on throwing firecrackers on the street, which was actually quite dangerous. Some firecrackers almost hit a car or a passing cyclist, and us, of course. That wasn't nice at all.
When we came back to the bus stop, everyone was still celebrating the wedding. This time in a restaurant. There was also a band playing in front of the building, making a kind of show for all the dwellers of the town. And everyone got a plastic cup with young wine mixed with soda water. Two bit drunk men were serving us the drink all the time, but one shot was definitely enough for us. It wasn't really tasty, but the tradition says that you shouldn't say no when joyful people share their happiness with another guest or random passers-by.

But before that happened, we experienced really unforgettable moments by the lake, on a meadow, where in fact, we weren't allowed to be. After a photo session, picnic and another photo session a park guard approached us, saying it's forbidden to be here. Quite disappointed, we started to pack our things, feeling a pressure from the guard who kept on saying we should hurry up. He drove away when we were on a legal path again and promised we wouldn't do that again. But we did. Because I lost my glasses on the meadow. Well, not the first and not the last time... Unfortunately, we didn't find it, so we just went back to the town and took a bus to Neusiedler am See. After some time we went back to the train station and our next adventure was over...


or a joyful photo session, calm streets and surprising contrast...

Finally, the ever lasting rain was over. And finally we had a chance to leave Vienna. Actually - to leave Austria. After one hour on the train we reached Sopron. I heard that many Austrians come here to visit a dentist or a beauty parlour or just to make some shopping. Because it's cheaper here. Although bit more expensive than in some other Hungarian towns.


I wasn't surprised when I saw German billboards or German advertisements for dentist cabinets or when a lady in a small shop with kitschy clothes spoke German with us. Actually, I expected to see here more tourists or more Austrian shopoholics. Fortunately, it turned out that the town is really calm.

The Sun was shining all the time, the local people were walking slowly through the town, sitting on a bench or in a café gardens. A small group of German and Romanian tourists was visiting the centre and we were trying to discover and enjoy the real atmosphere of Sopron. What we found was actually quite amazing and inspiring, as well. Neglected walls of old buildings, interesting graffiti, renewed colourful tenement houses, courtyards with old, original doors, reliefs hidden in the walls, elephants on the walls and dug out streets. We also met some wedding guests on their way to a church, dressed in a really strange way. Looking at them, I felt as if we had gone back in time about 20 years. Not surprisingly, our cameras were on all the time, capturing the architectonic contrasts, local people, street art and everything that enchanted us in this inconspicuous Hungarian town...