Unu steaua is our style! Oradea!

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May 28th 2009
Published: July 4th 2009
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Thursday, May 28th to Saturday, May 30th. Our stay was short but nice in Oradea. There were three reasons we picked Oradea to be our exit point out of Romania. One, it was close to Budapest. Two, Tages really wanted to visit the popular Bear Cave. Three, Oradea has the only strictly vegetarian restaurant in Romania. We had read a vague discription about a camping ground in Oradea and we figured we would get to Oradea and figure it out. We didn't have internet access in Sighisoara so we were not able to plan as well as we usually do. We arrived early in the morning after our terrible train ride so we felt a lack of sleep and a bit of confusion. The taxi drivers at the train station were more aggressive than in Sighisoara so that was a rude reminder we were back to a larger town. We stepped foot out of the train station and started walking to the tram. We looked in our Lonely Planet for some direction and realized the camping ground was in another town outside of Oradea. It started to rain and our backpacks were heavy, we were desperate so we got on the first tram that came. After being totally lost for a couple of hours and tired, somehow miraculously we found ourselves in the little town of 1 Mai Baille snuggled into our twin beds in a 1960's fashioned cabana. We couldn't believe how lucky we were. We took naps and reveled in the kitch-ness of our little cabana. All over Romania you can hear roosters crowing and 1 Mai Baille was no different. We awoke to the sounds of roosters. I think we were the only guests at Camping Venus despite the many cabanas on the grounds. After our nap we called with Skype the only info we had on the Bear Cave. They said they had just returned from a tour to the caves and would not be returning until next week. The staff said you can only go with a tour or else rent a private car to take you there and it is about 80 euros or something. Tages was so bummed. So, we ventured back to Oradea by way of a maxi taxi bus and a tram to Cris's Vegetarian Restaurant. We both agreed it was probably the most interesting experience we have ever had at a vegetarian restaurant. When you first walk in, you walk down a winding staircase to the restaurant. We were greeted by a woman who seated us in an almost silent dining room. There were 3 other tables occupied but no one was talking. They were playing soft religious music. We sat down at our table and were handed menus. When the waitress realized we didn't speak Romanian she looked disappointed and brought us menus in English, sort-of. There was only one sort-of English menu and it was a mix of Romanian and English. So, really we had no idea what to order. And there were little X's and O's by different dishes. She tried explaining to us what they meant but we didn't understand. We later found out the X's were what they used to have and the O's were what they still had. We randomly ordered and I was so excited to see what we would get. While waiting we perused the many religious leaflets on the table. All in Romanian but with a clear message, bloody little animals and jesus on the cross. Interesting. I stuffed them all in my bag. We were confused and pleasantly surprised when the food came. As usual in Romania, we would order something and get something entirely different. But, that's kind of fun! I am pretty sure it was all vegan. It was so cheap, too so it makes me think they make it all without having to import vegan stuff from far away. The food was very different and interesting. Tages's ordered something we called maize mush with cheese and sour cream. I ordered a cauliflower cream bake with steamed vegetarian sausage. It was super good. I also ordered a soy milk and she brought it last in a small little tea cup and it was hot. Tages also ordered a fresh squeezed strawberry juice. The whole meal came to like 10 dollars. Awesome! And when we finished all of the other diners had left so I think our waitress felt a little more comfortable to try to speak english with us. She was so sweet and asked where we were from. She said she loved the united states but had never been there and wondered why we were in romania if we didn't have family here. We told her we might be back because it was so delicious. She gave us a look like, "yeah right". I don't think she's vegetarian and i think she thinks the food is gross. haha. That night we sat on the little porch of our cabana and watched people passing by on the little road in front of camping venus. Apparently, 1 Maile Baille is famous for their healing thermal springs. People go for healing of their traumatic head injuries, rheumatism, some paralysis and stomach ailments. There were lots of little pensiones all down the main street and many have their own Doctor. I don't think Camping Venus has their own Dr. 😊 The people passing by were a mix of older folks in shiny jogging suits, parents with children in wheelchairs and Roma people in horse pulled wagons. We really loved sitting out there at dusk listening to the roosters crow and watching people pass by. We talked about wrapping up our time in Romania. I was very sad to leave, Tages said she was ready to go. Tages was tired of pretending to be friends and tired of being gawked at and tired of the smelly trains but also would miss so many of the funny and special things about Romania.
Other things
1 mai baille1 mai baille1 mai baille

horse drawn buggies always riding by
we noticed about romania that were different for us...1. they have Mountain Dew in glass bottles 2. restaurants always serve pizza with a side of ketchup 3. they have channels that play traditional romanian music and dancing 24 hours a day 4. people form lines to the side not behind each other

The next day we decided to check out of Camping Venus to be closer to the train station for our early departure on the 30th. We checked into what our lonely planet called Oradea's last budget hotel, Hotel Parc. When we arrived at Hotel Parc we saw a plaque on the outside of the building that said Hotel Parc was actually a historic monument and was once a palace in the 1700s. We entered into this beautiful old crumbling building with gold peeling walls and cherub statues staring at us. We walked down a long corrider to the reception desk. There was a fabulous cranky woman behind thick paned glass. She was probably in her 70s, bright pink lipstick, blue eyeshadow, hair tied up in a tight bun on top of her head with a fake hair scrunchie on top, smoking long cigarettes and pursed lips. She seemed incredibly annoyed that we didn't speak German, at least. She kept screaming for the maid to bring us to our room. "Yuuuuuuuulllllliiiiiieeeeeeeeee" "yyyuuuuuuuullllllliiiiiiiieeeeeeeee" Finally, Julie came and brought us to our room. But, of course since it was palace like, we had to wind through many halls and doorways to get to our fabulous room. We said we would take it and went back down to pay. We noticed on the wall next to that fantastic receptionist another plaque with ONE star on it proudly by the name Hotel Parc. Tages and I were overjoyed, finally staying in a self proclaimed one star hotel. We had always talked about seeing 2 star hotels but never a hotel that actually advertised it's one star. definitely our style! our room was also great, super high ceilings and faded glory. That's how I felt about Oradea, faded glory. You could walk around and imagine that at one time, it was so incredibly beautiful. But without money to restore these beautiful places, they just start to crumble and fade over time. But I loved that about Romania because it is still really beautiful even if it's faded. What a wonderful way to spend our last night in Romania, in an old palace turned one star hotel. and the next morning we had complimentary breakfast! Sweet! Romania has been my FAVORITE stop so far on our trip and I will be back! I LOVE LOVE LOVE it!!!!!

Additional photos below
Photos: 30, Displayed: 27


Carrefour grocery storeCarrefour grocery store
Carrefour grocery store

grocery stores always seem to be in malls in Romania!

our fave pastry shop in romania
Hotel ParcHotel Parc
Hotel Parc

Historical Monument

4th July 2009

Sounds like everything continues to go well! Very awesome that you were able to find the vegetarian restaurant. :)
4th July 2009

Em, your commentary was fabulous. You expressed all of this so well and with such humble respect for all the people. Thank you for being the genuine person you truly are. I admire you so much. xoxoMOM

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