Having arranged accomodation through couchsurfing again, I found myself in Sibiu's main sqaure waiting for my host to come pick me up after finishing work. Alexander was his name and sales was his game. He was also a fairly high standing member of the Romanian Orthodox church as I was to soon find out.
Unfortunately due to committments I had only one night and day in Sibiu. As Europe's cultural capital in 2007 you should probably allocate more time to the place than I did. However through good fortune god, the universal power, luck whatever you want to call it sent me Alexander along, who had been responsible for hosting European dignataries when they came en masse during 2007 to visit Sibiu. Thus having walked around the city during the day myself, trying to take in as much as I could, I had by night an experienced guide who had access to half of the city that was now supposed to be closed.
Which he took me to, along with shouting me dinner, a very tasty dinner at that. I tried to pay, but as I was finding out, Eastern Europeans, take their role as host very seriously and
are unbelievably hospitable to the point where I almost feel embarrassed staying with them. They are just too nice. Anyway I now know the standard here and will reciprocate it in the future if and when I ever have a firm home base.
So we went to the university campus and various churches, walked around the old city and he explained almost everything there is to know about Sibiu I would imagine. We then found ourselves at his parents' house around midnight where he proceeded to show me a video about Sibiu. We went to bed at around 1am, then he got up to take me to the taxi I needed to take to get my bus at 5.30am, before he headed off for another day of work.
The taxi driver that took me to the bus station was another native German speaker I had met in Sibiu which is another city that was formerly under the dominion of Germany and a city that still has a high percentage of Germans living there. I had found out Alexander's take on this the day before in a rather humorous way, when in typical latin style he crossed the road,
despite the flashing red light. The closest car driver that was stationery when he walked out, furiously bept the horn at Alexander who yelled out "This is not Germany" and gestured in a rather unchristianlike manner to further reenforce the point. I stood there nervously twiddling my thumbs as they squared off in a moment of cultures clashing. With the car's departure, I noticed with relief that I could sit on the fence with that debate and cross the red as there were no cars coming - A happy medium which allowed me to nod my head in agreement for the next five minutes without looking like a complete hypocrite...
Another thing that I had reenforced by Alexander which I find interesting is that although the Romanians constantly battled with the Ottomans over many centuries, they were never defeated to the point where they became part of the Ottoman empire, which geographically is quite interesting, because, the Ottomans managed to rape, murder and pillage their way thorough, Bulgaria, Hungary, Greece former Yugoslavia, all the way up to the gates of Vienna. A lot of Romanians are very proud of this point and see themselves as having defended not only
themselves, but the entire of chistian europe from this islamic invader.
A historic point that has a lot of relevance, although largely unsaid in the current debate over accepting Turkey into the EU. A lot of people behind closed doors all over Europe, are not to keen on the idea of letting near on 80 million Turks in, especially when they breed at a rate 2 to 3 times higher than the majority of Europe. Aside from the current problems with the integration of Turks in Germany, I think historically you can kind of see where the uneasiness/fear of many europeans comes from. The Turks for their part are doing everything they can to meet european requirements seeing the EU as a way to secure their future prosperity and a way in which to increase their influence. Interesting times ahead...
Back to Sibiu, aside from learning about the constant Ottoman attacks on Sibiu and the special fortifications and strategies the Romanians devised to thwart their attacks, Alexander also taught me a lot about the Romanian Orthodox church. I don't know if it's because I have been in Western Europe for a while looking at Catholic and Protestant churches,
but the Romanian Orthodox churches really took my interest. They are extremely colourful and ritualistic places. I sat through part of a mass during the day and found it quite spellbinding. Much to much effort for me to ever be a follower, but very interesting to check out none the same....
So in summary Sibiu for me was short but sweet....
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