Edit Blog Post
Published: June 13th 2009
Wieteke on the train
on our way to Sighisoara
Saturday May 23rd..Today we travelled Northwest to Sighisoara by a dirty old rambling train with lots of character. Our new friend Wieteke from the Netherlands took the train with us because she had also planned to stay a night in Sighisoara. When stepping off the train, it had a distinct small town feel about it. Sighisoara was high and low. The main city was low in the valley in between two mountains (well, to the locals they might be large hills but they were mountains to me) and then there was another city, a fortress city high in the mountains on one side. It was really beautiful and very picturesque like the rest of Transylvania. We walked to the main street in town and almost immediately started seeing families on horse drawn wagons. We walked to Nathan's Villa Hostel where Wieteke was staying. Tages and I planned on staying at Camping Villa Franca to save some money but weren't exactly clear on how to get to the campground. There was an incredibly nice woman working at the hostel who let us store our packs in a little bedroom in the basement while we all went to get groceries at the Penny
Market and produce at the open air market. She said Camping Villa Franca was on top of one of the mountains and the only way to get there was by taxi. We stocked up on groceries (or more like snack food, cold sandwiches is what we eat when camping). We went back to the hostel, grabbed our bags, the woman called a taxi for us and we said goodbye to Wieteke. The woman at Nathan's hostel also said Villa Franca had the best view of the city, we were excited. She also said "Dracula's house is crap, you're better off spending your money on beer." Haha, we laughed! We got into the taxi (our first one in Romania) and it drove very fast up a winding road with forests on either side to the top of the mountain. It was very cheap (like 2$) and when I tipped the driver he looked shocked or surprised, I couldn't tell (we found out later you don't tip taxis). We walked into an open air restaurant with waiters dressed in formal attire and on one side a large white tent that seemed to be about to hold a wedding. We looked at each
other like, "ummm...where is the campground and are we about to crash a wedding in our smelly camping clothes?" We approached the bar and the waiters scrambled to find someone who spoke english. A younger guy walked up and immediately said all the cabanas were full and we said, "na...we're tenting". He was like, oh, ok then and pointed us to a field with a run down 1960's looking playground, toilet and shower are in cabana #13 and wrote us a receipt. It was pretty sweet. Camping was incredibly cheap, like 5$ a day- right up our budget! There was only one other tent in the field. We settled into a gazebo to watch the wedding about to begin. From my journal..."We decided to set up by a broken down picnic table, 2 trees, a teeter totter and lots of weeds. The waiter approached us and said, there is this wedding going on-maybe music til' 3am-is this a problem for you? and we said, no problem. We set up our tent while hearing the live band warming up with Boys to Men- End of the Road. After we finished, we ate cheese sandwiches from the Penny Market and we watched
the wedding procession from the gazebo by our tent. Cars pulling up, horns honking, the bride and groom got out and they played the wedding song and then the bride, groom and two others all downed a glass of champagne under this white arch and threw their glasses down and they shattered and everyone clapped and hollered. It was awesome, I had never seen anyone do that. The first dance was a traditional sounding Romanian song and then some weird 80s sounding rock/pop song about a lady of the night. Then that annoying Mambo #5 song and then Celebrate and then more traditional Romanian music with an Oboe and an accordian. The bridesmaids dresses are yellow and black leopard print, hot! and some of the guests outfits are so great! like, one woman showed up in stilleto bright red heels with the straps wrapping up her legs, a red and black polka dot dress and a lace sweater, awesome! and lots of perms! More traditional Romanian music and everyone is doing group dances that look really fun. As we watched, a British guy walked over to us because he was the other tenter in the playground. He said he just
walked straight up the mountain through the forest but stopped in a village on the way for a beer so the walk wasn't so bad because he got "pissed". We couldn't believe this guy just walked up the mountain! We immediately took a liking to him because he was tubby and had walked so far, british and drunk. He said he had been there for 3 nights and loved it. He said wild horses roam the grounds at night. He's been camping all over Romania for 2 weeks and headed back to England on Tuesday to find a job to get more money to get back on the road. He's been all over the world- India 7 times, Singapore, Malaysia, Europe, Ethiopia, USA, everywhere. He said he always travels alone and camps. He had some great travel stories. I love hearing other travelers stories, adventures, people they have met, stuff they've done, sights seen, crazy mishaps. Hostel stories are also good, too. Loud drunks, brits, germans, australians, americans, strip poker, annoying people, lights being turned on, people falling out of the top bunk, alarms going off at all times of the night, etc. I love living this travelling life and
camping villa franca
getting ready to set up camp!
I love knowing there are other travellers who work a bit, travel, work, travel and do whatever they can to just keep travelling. On another note, watching this wedding makes me sad that I don't have strong cultural roots or traditions like knowing these traditional dances that everyone just does on cue at this Romanian wedding."
This was also the night that we met Arpi, the night shift guy. We got to know Arpi during the course of our stay at Villa Franca and we appreciated all of his knowledge and kindness.
So far we have found a few ticks on us, woke up to a huge spider hanging in our tent, stepped on huge crunching beetles and also had a wolf walk right up to us in the dark and eat the piece of bread I had just dropped. There is some crazy nature here! We had planned a day trip to Sibiu by bus this morning and Arpi woke us early to make sure we didn't miss it. Well, we missed it but still were able to spend a couple of hours in beautiful Sibiu. This was also the day we were really thirsty and kept
i am going to eat this chocolate roll all in one bite! i don't want to set up the tent.
accidently purchasing water that was carbonated. dangit! I also had been drinking the water in the camp out of the faucet like we usually do (with hesitation upon first arrival in Romania, but our friends laughed at us for being so paranoid so we started) but when Arpi found out, he said no way, you have to boil it first. oops!
We checked out of Villa Franca, said goodbye to Arpi and Jack, checked our backpacks at the train station left luggage and headed to the old town. We saw Vlad "dracula" Tepes's statue which was pretty funny and other parts of the beautiful citadel in Sighisoara. We really loved the old town because it was like nothing we had seen before and it was just so beautiful. Afterwards, we treated ourselves to a vegetarian pizza and salad at La Perla restaurant and pizzerie. It was delicious but also hard to eat because there were so many children begging outside the restaurant.
We sat at the train station in Sighisoara for hours waiting for our night train to Oradea. One guy walked into the station and we heard his american accent while asking about left luggage. And he
had an REI backpack which gave it all away! We stopped him and he happened to be from Chicago and was super nice! and he lives in logan square which is where sarah and dorothy live, we couldn't believe it! We talked about romania for awhile and then promised to look for each other in the future in chicago. Our train finally came, it was after midnight. we had just endured about 2 hours of this father/son duo incessently staring at us. We kept our fingers crossed we weren't going to be in the same carriage with them. We boarded the train which was coming from somewhere far away and our train ride was to be about 7 hours, as well. I would say it was the worst train ride we endured in romania. Here is my journal entry about it..."worst train ride ever. we left at a little after 24:00 hoping to have a carriage of our own but oh no, this train had come from somewhere else and every dark carriage had sleeping people in it. we found our car and carriage and it had three snoozing, sprawled out smelly people in it. they also had a small
radio blaring some 1950's beach music. Tages said it was traditional romanian music but at that moment when i opened the cabin door, that's what it sounded like to me. we timidly walked into the dark cabin anxious to lift up our backpacks over these sleeping people without waking them. one guy had on small little white shorts which i thought were his underwear at first and they all woke up and acted so annoyed that we broke up their slumber party. immediately they could tell we weren't romanian which is the only reason i think they moved over. it smelled super bad and was sooooo hot and stuffy in the cabin. they hesitantly moved out of our seats and readjusted themselves. one guy kept digging his foot into my leg and i glared at him in the dark. i was so nauseous and it was impossible to sleep. two other women came in to sit in their seats and the group of three yelled at them and made the younger woman move to another car b/c they wanted to sleep in her seat. it was awful. we found an empty carriage during the last hour of the ride and
moved our bags over the sleeping people and out of that cabin. we arrived in oradea around 7am and were so greatful to be off the train."
To combat the post traumatic stress of the agonizing train ride, Tages and I came up with a little song and dance we like to call 'Cluj Napoca'. It's to the beat of what I thought was beach music from our cabin mates little radio. We sing it every now and then just to have a good laugh about that train ride.
Tot: 3.586s; Tpl: 0.057s; cc: 15; qc: 76; dbt: 0.0604s; 3; m:saturn w:www (188.8.131.52); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.5mb