Thursday, August 31, 2006

Stuck in Brasov

Continuing with what Savannah was saying, yes, we've been in Brasov for almost a week now. I am a bit confused as to what I should say about Romania. My first impression upon crossing the border was "Oh no! It's another Georgia." because things here are much grayer and run down than everywhere we've been recently. Lots of garbage lying around and just big ugly communist block architecture. Even the old towns, while still nice, just aren't to the same scale or at the same level of repair as Poland or Hungary and places like that. You have a tendency to become uninterested in them faster and want to move on.
Having said all that, the people have been nice so far and amazingly enough, all the train ticket sellers in the stations have actually spoken English. They can't say that in the rest of eastern Europe. That has made it a lot easier. The language is also pretty cool too. I've heard it said (somewhere) that Romanian is the closest living language to Latin, so if you can understand Italian, Spanish or French, it's actually pretty easy to get an idea of what all the signs are saying. Unfortunately it's still too expensive here (by my ultra-cheap standards), more so than Slovakia, even though it's not the EU yet. Dorm beds are 10-15 euros/night.
Brasov is right in Transylvania and close to all the Dracula folklore but as most people know, Vlad Tepes/Dracula was a real guy (nicknamed the impaler) who had considerable success fighting (very cruelly) against the Ottomans but the whole vampire thing has come out of nowhere. I am shocked that even though this is the most touristy area of the country, it's not stacked with tacky vampire souvenirs yet. There is a mountain range running right through the middle of Transylvania with great skiing and hiking but we haven't been able to enjoy the outdoors on account of the horrible weather. It turned to crap just after we arrived and has been cold (8-20C) during the day, with frequent thunderstorms and heavy rains. I've officially started my winter beard it's so cold.
Maybe it's the vampire effect in the area but lots of people here are getting stuck and staying longer than they'd planned. We'd only planned a few days but have been here much longer. I have no energy and motivation right now and just want to sit around all day. It must be vampires.....
We did get out to Sighisoara (birthplace of Vlad) and also to Sinaia on separate day trips. Both are small towns and popular tourist spots. Sighisoara was a shock as it was so run down, with buildings literally falling apart right in the main square and Roma beggars in front of the train station. Sinaia is more in the mountains and home to Peles castle. It is actually very impressive inside and the coolest interior of a building we've seen yet on this trip. Very nice and well worth the trip. Unfortunately it rained all day so we never got the view of the mountains. It felt like going to Whistler on a rainy late October day. Nearby is also the Bran castle, billed as the home of Dracula but a lie and a tourist trap. We haven't heard much good about it so will probably skip it.
I thought the best part out here was riding in the slow train looking at all the little villages going by. The countryside is pretty but we are on the edge of the mountains so it isn't as harsh as I expected. Villages are simple and traditional looking as many still use horse-carts to get around. The train actually had roll down windows like in a car. Awesome.
What it feels like we've mostly been doing is sitting around chatting with all the people here in the hostel (it is still very full) and watching movies. People are very impressed and supportive of our trip which is also great. Better than half you wierdos that think we should come home and WORK of all things. Why would anyone in their right mind want to do that? You work so you can have vacation so why would I want to stop my vacation, come back and start working so I can go on my next one?
The currency here is messed up. They currently have 2 currencies, just like in Azerbaijan where they are revaluing it and have both in circulation at the same time for a while. It's not as confusing though because they differ by a factor of 10,000.
Tomorrow we finally get ourselves back on the road and are heading over to Moldova for a few days to check it out. We'll let you know when we get there.


At 12:16 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ha ha so I convinced you guys to go to MOLDOVA did I? Well maybe I shouldn't take all the credit! Hi there... it's Geoff here, the Canadian who was arrested in Transdniestr. Well almost. I'm back in Hong Kong now, which I guess is where it all started for you guys, but it's where it all ends for me. Glad to hear that you're moving on out of Brasov, and I hope the weather clears up for up. It was sunny and 32 degrees here today! Anyway, I wish you guys the best of luck. Send me an email anytime you like... I don't really feel like signing up for a blogger account so I guess I'll sign off as... Geoff


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