Sadly, the time has finally come for me to move on from this surprisingly picturesque and peaceful country.
Instead of heading further north into the mountains, which is what I thought I was doing up until a day or so ago, I've decided to move in a westerly direction. I've modified my plan so that I've left a large area to visit when I come back here one day. Hopefully by then one or more of you will be able to come share the journey with me...
Here has been my route so far from Bucharest. I am currently in Sibiu and by Saturday evening I want to at least reach Timisoara.
Speaking of Sibiu, a city you've probably not heard of. Well, it's so pleasant here that it gets a dedicated mention in FORBES magazine as one of Europe's most idyllic places to live. Don't be fooled though as it's streets are far from empty. In fact, the above articles reckons there are over 160,000 residents.
Kate, from all the tens of thousands of villages across the World, Deja also gets a mention in this top ten. (Deja, Mallorca is where Kate once took me and I saw the most amazing Sunset, ever).
Anyhow I can confirm Forbes' report. It is so peaceful and relaxing out here that I people watched for nearly 45 minutes earlier in the park - with an ice-cream of course. In fact, this is the first place I got a little caught up in the romance of it all and fooled myself into thinking what have I got to do in life to be able to live out here...
So if you have been following my posts you'll know that Romania has exceeded all my expectations several times over. Then again, if you've been digesting all my posts you won't need me to explain why you and your partner need to get over here but here's a quick recap:
No, not because Romania is one of not many countries to use polymer (plastic) bank notes but because everything is so comparably cheap! (In fact they were the first European country to issue a full set of these circulating plastic notes).
These things don't crunch up, get damaged in the wash and they are not easy to tear! What's not to like? Comon, Bank of England, make the change...
As my time in hostels has so far been fantastic, I've not once felt the need to look for a hotel and so I don't know what the prices are like. I can only imagine they would be affordable based on the fact that everything else is but as I've proven, you really don't need one. Well, certainly not a fancy one. Remember that hostels offer private rooms too so this way you have the best of all worlds! I have to admit though, I find myself slightly shuddering as I recall some of the prices I've paid over the years whilst completely oblivious to the 'other side' and I'm saying that in just over two weeks of travel!
Jugendstube in Brasvo - probably my favourite all-round hostel so far if I had to choose one.
Westerners could live like King and Queen in Romania on both local and non-local produce. A pint of local draft beer might cost you 6-8 lei and an imported bottle, perhaps 8 - 10. (Oh, that converts to around £1 and £1.50 respectively). The food offerings are vast so hard to give a figure but I'll quickly provide a few examples: A salad with tuna and eggs would cost you no more than £1.50, a mid range meal perhaps £2.50 and you can have a fancy sit-down meal for a fiver! Haven't you booked your flight yet? :-)
Actually, I thought I'd made a boo boo the other night in Brasov when the owner of the hostel referred me (upon enquiry) to a place to eat except when I arrived the place had a fancy staircase going down - never a good sign for somewhere cheap. Then I entered and saw a wine case, bare brick surroundings and various arches! Ah shoot.
I bit the bullet, took a seat and thought FFS, 'When in Rome'...
Thankfully, water (from a glass bottle), bread, a starter of vegetable soup and a main meal of Romanian Sarmale came to less than £8 for a place of this quality!
Last night I bumped into an Aussie hostel mate from the Jugendstube hostel who was staying in the same hostel as me here in Sibiu. As we both had eaten out a lot recently, we made pizza and ate it on the wall of our surrounding area. It was pretty cool I'll admit.
As I mentioned in a previous post, one of my biggest surprises has been that the people have not been bothersome in the slightest. I must stress this hasn't been just the case in the remote villages but in the capital itself too. They've also been very friendly people to ask directions for. I could probably count on one hand the number of people I thought were a little rude and that's over a full week of travel. Also remember that due to the nature of type of travelling, I'm encountering people all the time so as a percentage, this is a tiny, tiny amount. Also, apart from the occasional angry taxi driver, I've not heard a single raised voice all week!
Me and some random elderly Romanian ladies on the way up to Rasnov.
City and country life:
I don't know about you but my travel requirements, objectives and desires have really evolved over the years - and probably only since I met Kate if I'm honest.
You probably know a very small amount of people that go back to the same place each year falsely convincing themselves that this is the best way to do things. Bless.
I've driven through some amazing places with my friends #KingsOfEurope and each time nature keeps rewarding me with more and more spectacular imagery. Anyone that has experienced the sight of snow-capped mountains reflecting glorious sunshine with plenty of green land in the foreground will have had these tranquil memories burnt into their memories.
So if you want a really memorable experience in Romania please don't just go to Bucharest for the weekend - how much will you have seen and learnt from that? I implore you to take at least a week off work as holiday and take on the countryside too. See the beautiful side of Romania that the average holiday maker will not get to see. Take some enjoyment from the fact that you will unlikely know anyone that will have been there and done that meaning you'll have little risk of bumping into anyone you know out there - unlike when you jet off to Costa del sun-tan and bump into 'Frank' from down your road.
I really hope my Romanian posts can influence even just a small handful of people wanting to go away on a budget and how it potentially could end up being one of the best breaks you'll have ever had. Remember you'll get out what you put in.
Please do let me know then if you break past your own mental barrier and are contemplating a trip out here one month soon.