Monday, August 3, 2009

Day 7, Transylvania

At 2:30, thirteen of us got ready to leave on our weekend trip to Transylvania. Before we could go, however, we had to say goodbye to our five one-week volunteers, who were set to leave on Saturday. Shirley, Colleen, and Cassie (a family team: Shirley is Colleen’s mom and Cassie’s grandma, and Colleen is Cassie’s aunt), and Erin and Nicole (sisters-in-law) were only able to stay in Tutova with us for a week, and I will miss them sooooo much! Thank God for Facebook. ;-)

So those lovely ladies (including Terri, who planned to stay at the clinic for the weekend) went on to the afternoon shift with the kids, and the rest of us piled into a bus with Alin, our driver, and Florin, our tour guide. Thus began the 5-hour drive to Bran. Some highlights from the roadtrip:

*Q. When does a hill become a mountain? A. When there’s nothing taller next to it. Or when your ears pop.

*Romanian drivers are worse than Italian drivers. Most parts of the road, you can use the opposite lane to pass, and staying in your own lane—in general—seems to be optional. A submission in the Lonely Planet guide seems to be very accurate:

Despite the country’s on-book driving regulations, in reality the situation is lawless. The prevailing belief is that racing along at the very edge of disaster is the pinnacle of skilled driving. Romanians routinely risk death just to gain three seconds on their journeys, even if they’re just going to church. Moreover, anyone not conducting themselves in this unhinged manner is considered a menace, inviting abuse in the form of sustained horn blaring and curse words… Passengers, particularly in maxitaxis, should consider tequila shots and blindfolds before long trips.


*At one point, about two hours into the drive, we saw a bunch of little, tiny, brightly-colored log cabins in between some houses.

*There were a lot of above-ground pipes. Not sure if they were for gas or water.

*Amy J. said I have a cute nose?

*Romanian music would be good for belly dance, and I plan to buy a few CDs before I leave.

*We saw a couple of HUGE nests at the top of poles and such. Turns out that they belonged to storks. I saw three storks in one of these nests but wasn’t quick enough with my camera (although if Alin had been going the speed limit, I probably could have gotten the shot!)

We stayed at Vila Bran, a "mountain resort." The room Amy J. and I shared was simple and awesome. The two beds were right next to each other, but we managed to separate them by about three inches. Trent and Trevor—who also shared a room—couldn’t move the beds, so Trevor threw his mattress on the floor! Amy and I had the entire corner balcony, and each room’s balconies were separated by a wall of alternated slats of wood.

As I was getting ready for dinner, I hit my tooth with my water bottle (the cap) and bit through my lip. Ouch!

Dinner was at the restaurant at Vila Bran. I had grilled chicken. It was karaoke night, and I considered doing it (and others pushed me to do it) but after looking at the song list, I decided not to. There weren’t any very good choices. After dinner, we went outside onto the patio to take pictures—we could see Bran Castle from there, and it was all lit up. It was very cold outside, though, and I wasn’t used to it; it’s colder in Transylvania because it’s in the mountains. Even so, Amy J. wanted to go swimming (crazy!) and I refused because 1. It was cold and 2. I didn’t have a bathing suit.

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Above-ground pipes

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From my balcony at Vila Bran

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Another balcony shot

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The moon

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Me and Bran Castle

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Amy is a bad director, so my finger wasn't in the right place

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There it is!

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