Sunday, 21 June 2015

GRs, Godot and Goats

The Romanian Mountains
I've been euro-hopping again, this time to Romania. I know it's a slightly unusual choice, unless you're a stag party looking for cheap heat and even cheaper beer, but I have a friend who is Romanian (Monica) so we were there to have the local's perspective combined with a little local knowledge about where's good to get away for a few days.

How I got there deserves its own blog post of its own but it would be a rather garbled story and an unneeded additional example of how ridiculous I let my life be. So in a short summary; my brother arrived Thursday night to help me finish packing my little flat into every box I could get my hands on and then an entire role of bin bags. Friday came and we picked up a van and packed my stuff into it. At first I thought this was sad that my entire worldly possessions barely covered the floor of a 3m van but then I remembered that nearly 2 years ago it was only two cars worth so in a strange measurement I've expanded and almost started to grow roots. This is a strange thought given that I've lived in 9 places in the last 8 years, in fact the last 19 months has been the longest I've spent in any one place since I was 16. You get used to living in different places with only a comparatively small number of boxes trailing behind you. In fact I've gotten so used to constant change that I'm now irked by consistency - but that's a blog for another time.

We picked up the keys to my new place that morning and after a rather amusing game of elevator ping pong we were on our way. Chloe wasn't thrilled with the journey but settled down and actually seemed to enjoy watching out the windscreen despite the fact I'd deliberately turned her carrier to point away from the windows. It was 6pm by the time we were unpacked and Chloe had installed herself under the kitchen cupboards and was not coming out for love nor money... well cat treats which is the same thing in her eyes.

By 8pm I was on a train headed for Stanstead exhausted and emotional. My brother had been a trouper all day and I couldn't have done anywhere close without him. I arrived at the Stanstead Hilton to meet Ami at 12.30am to get on the 4.15 bus back to the airport. Hardly the rest I needed. But then at 11.30 local time  Ami, the two boys (Michael and Lewis), and I arrived in Bucharest where a very excited Monica was waiting.

Monica and her bf Michael attended a wedding that day which is a little different to an English wedding because there's a big gap in the middle between the ceremony and the reception where Monica came back and took the girls to a spa. I got a mani pedi and felt much better for it. A nap, a fake tan, and some pastries later M&M had gone back to the wedding and D,A&L were dropped with our babysitters for the night: Ana the Actress and Andrei the Lawyer. They were increasingly easy to get along with as the night (and the beer) went on. I'm not sure if that means we got less guarded or they did but doesn't matter either way. We had dinner, we went to a bar in the garden of an abandoned palace, then we went to a house party. It was rather bombarding to the senses but nice not to make any decisions and just be along for the ride. We arrived back at about 5am having been awake for 26 hours.

The next day we took the train to Vama Veche which is a beach with an assortment of little hotels and wooden bars near it. We were joining the wedding party from the day before which had rented a villa, we weren't the only gate crashers though as a Canadian girl had brought some of her friends too. I think there were more people there who didn't know the bride or groom than did! A dinner of many GRs and craps (grams were written ad GR and carp translates to crap) later I was tucked up and zonked out. We spent a day on the beach which was sunny but windy which meant it was hard to tell when you were burning but there were many pancakes and beers so it was ok. A and I returned a little pinker than intended but not drastically. We had a BBQ of sea slug and mosquitoes as it was impossible to avoid the bugs and reflected on our (now removed) buttsie photo.

Tuesday was overcast  but that was welcome given the train journey back to the city. We met a bartender on the bus who gave us each gifts. I got a shell from Ibiza that I called Barry (for reasons that shall remain untold for Ami's sake). That night we went for a quiet quick drink and predictably it turned into an awesome night out! We spent the most of it in a cellar of a club called Godot (as in Waiting for.. it was an acting haunt) where we got home at about 6.30am. Ami survived the enthusiastic advances of an admirer, Lewis introduced locals to the Jagerbomb, and I inadvertently stole a watch.

There wasn't much time to nurse a hangover though as the next day we went out for a very Romanian lunch (and a not Romanian salad as we had to combine all the side salads and add other things to create a salad meal)and after a rather random shopping trip for trackie bottoms (who knew men took so long to shop?!) and a scamming taxi driver who instantly tried to charge us 3x the rate when he heard we were english (this resulted in us also learning some colourful Romanian language when Monica found out) we were headed out of the city again to the mountains. L,M&M got the train there and apparently Michael nearly died from a giant mosquito and despite Monica's screams of 'ITS BITING YOU!' did nothing to help the situation. Ami and I were picked up by Alex the Communications Engineer (everyone was introduced with their profession as their surname). Alex was described to us as 'looking like Jesus' and well, it wasn't wrong.

Arriving at the mountain town we were expecting a little walk and then setting up in a cabin for a couple of nights. Wrong. We started on our 3 day hike up to 2500m and back down again. I was in converses. I was not expecting this. One giant cross, a lot of swearing, a mountain goat, and 5 hours later we arrived at our first cabin. It didn't have running water or electricity so wifi was completely out of the question. What it did have was amazing views (and giant bunk beds). A well needed rest later we were off again for what we were told was 'the hard bit'. I was still dead from the day before which combined with downhill and snow was very challenging for me. But after more swearing and goats, we finally made it to the second cabin at mid afternoon which gave us time to relax and catch our breath a bit. It also gave me time to change my trousers as I had ripped a hole in the butt of the pair I was wearing as I was butt shuffling down a steep bit of loose rocks. This cabin was more what I pictured, with electricity and a stream in place of running water. There were even horses casually grazing in between hauling supplies up from the town. Dinner of bean soup and sour cabbage followed by an argument over who farted later, we were all tucked up again. During this time it was commented towards me that that  I 'don't like people' which was an offhand comment not meant with any malice but struck me as odd that there are people who don't understand different personalities and that an introvert doesn't equal antisocial. I guess it's just lack of experience. I left the extroverts to be loud and meet lots of new people after our day of exhausting and scary slopes and had an early night.

The last day was comparatively easy but confounded by thighs burning and moral dwindling. The walk through the forest back to the town was very pretty even if it was done at such a pace that you could blink and miss a whole view. We didn't see any bears (just bear poop) but we saw plenty more mountain goats!

Thankfully we arrived back in the town before the lightening began to strike and we had a decidedly non-Romanian pizza dinner before getting the train back to Bucharest. We had planned to go out that night for a big night out but everyone was zonked and since we had an accidental night out on Tuesday we decided to stay in, eat take away and watch shit tv. Excellent choices. Oh I also arranged for the watch to be returned. Then we packed up and headed back to the airport for the flight home at the slightly more sociable time of 12.30. I arrived back in Manchester around 6 and came back to a thankfully very happy cat in a very empty flat.

So there's my little random Romanian week! It feels like a snatched breath of air in my otherwise ocean of things to do. But just like Dorry said: just keep swimming!