Akasha and I rose early the next morning and headed off to catch our bus into the mountains. The others had most of the day to fill before catching their own buses home. Jesse had helped us check bus times with an official when we'd arrived 2 days earlier, but the woman at the ticket office assured us that there was no bus to Sibiu or Alba Iuliu. The trains, despite being a fraction of the cost of anywhere else I'd been in Europe, were too expensive for Akasha, so we were left with the option of the microbuses that act as shuttles. We found the right one, then after some quick negotiations with the other passengers, even managed to get 2 adjacent seats. We both wanted to start fresh, but it wasn't easy to put the past week behind us. "I'm broken," Akasha said. "I feel like a single mother who's lost her freedom." The observation was the perfect compliment to my own feelings of being the child in the back seat. "I can't support both of us." She told me that they'd been trying to reach me and that I'd been in dreamland. Perhaps they had. There were a number of times that I'd been shocked to find them speaking English to me. It wasn't beyond belief that I'd missed some. And the previous night may have been better simply because I was less stressed and therefore more open, though I think they were making a real effort for the first time that week. Our conversation was interrupted by an old woman behind us, who wanted to introduce her grandson, Robert. The boy of about 8 spoke a number of English words and

By |August 15th, 2004|Categories: Romania|0 Comments

Through the Window

The new arrivals needed cash, so the first stop was a currency exchange booth. It took security very seriously. A guard at the door made Lestat show his cash before letting him into the booth then shut the door behind him so that no one else could enter until he was done. Out on the street, a pregnant beggar was accosting the rest of us. In an attempt to garner sympathy, she lifted her dress to show us the scars of a leg operation. It had the opposite effect on me. It wasn't sexy, but the wound had healed well and it obviously didn't affect her ability to walk. She either had enough support from the government or enough of her own money to pay for an operation, so why should we give her anything. When I - her last chance - refused to give her any cash, she spat on me. It was the only sense of superiority she had left and there was very little substance to it, so I shuddered briefly and turned back to listen to what the others were saying. As usual, what I caught was meaningless - just a few words here and there. "... the ... Bucharest ... three ..." I had no idea if that meant 'one of the beggars in Bucharest had three ears' or 'the town hall in Bucharest is three times as big as the one in Paris.' Keeping one ear on the conversation in the hope I'd pick up a keyword, I scanned the street to see if I could get a feel for how these people lived their lives. Further down the road, I saw the same beggar in trouble. One of

By |August 7th, 2004|Categories: Romania|0 Comments

Horror Stories

n the moment before the train passed into the tunnel, I stole a glance at the couple sitting across from us. Both were tall with hair slicked back from widow's peaks. They wore capes with high collars and the man's incisors gleamed threateningly. "There are no vampires in Romania." The man's voice was chilling in the darkness. He'd obviously seen me look across and knew immediately what was on my mind. I guessed this wasn't the first time a tourist had looked sideways at him. When the train came out of the tunnel, I felt very silly. Neither of them was particularly tall, though the young man wasn't far off six feet, and neither had widow's peaks or long incisors. They weren't even wearing capes. In fact, the man had unruly brown hair and his girlfriend's long locks might have been permed. Both were wearing jeans and t-shirts. "Sorry. I'm a bit jumpy. We just came from SighiÅŸoara and the whole town was crawling with teenagers dressed in black." The black had been Metallica and Megadeath t-shirts, but even vampires couldn't go around in long capes and high collars these days. "Oh, were you there for the medieval festival? That's not something I'd expect tourists to go to." I wanted to agree that we weren't your everyday tourists, preferring to join in the local culture of places we visit, but the truth was that today we were amateurs. It was our first trip away together and, looking back, it was too early in the relationship to be going so far out of our comfort zone. Tensions had run high from the moment we arrived in Budapest and the mistakes weren't helping. Primary among them was

By |August 1st, 2004|Categories: Romania|0 Comments