Breathtaking Romania

Hey there! As you may know, we've taken a loooong break since our biking trip, and so many extraordinary things have happened in the last months.

But to continue with our story, let us catch up at the Serbian-Romanian border...

The story begins in Belgrade, it was a chilly autumn morning at 5 am.
With the first breaths of the day we lifted the bikes and grabbed them downstairs from the second floor. Still sleepy and silent, we gave a warm goodbye to the lovely vintage apartment and started biking towards the station.

We pushed uphills, downhills, crossed the greenlights, zigzaged in the busy streets and finally got on time for the train.

As much as we love biking, there is something magical about trains. It's like a moving café. 
You make yourself comfortable, look through the window, have snacks, walk along the corridor, chat with the passengers, nap, repeat. 
Sometimes time goes by veeery slowly and sometimes you almost loose the stop!

Within a few hours we crossed the Romanian border and Serban and I can't stop loving it! We enjoy the discussions in Romanian, he teaches me some new words: 'salut', 'ce face', 'un pahar de apa, va rog', 'Poafte buna!', 'varza', 'mult frumoasa', 'me piace foarte', 'te pup!'....

Romanian is a romance language and hence it shares some features with French, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish. They say it's the closest living language to Latin; it has three genders, five declinations and a lot of sounds we don't use in Spanish...
It's a fast-pace language, with short vowel sounds, sometimes it reminds me to russian but with an italian accent. Or like italian with a strong slavic touch.
They use a lot of expressions related to food. A Romanian wil not be "extremely tired", he will be "cabbage". His life is not "chaotic"... it's "cabbage". And his room is not "a complete mess"... it's also "cabbage" (varza). There's cabbage everywhere. 😄

Trains in Romania teach you to be patient, and many times we see the cars driving faster than us. But we're not in a hurry, we are on a  s a b b a t i c a l !


Sometime after the sunset the train announces our stop: Alba Iulia. We're so excited about meeting Serban's family and me to discover his country. Also, we realise it is the 4th of November: it's been exaclty two months since we begun our trip by bike... it seems like we've got a lucky number ;)

We lived so many things during the six weeks living in Romania.  
The first days were the most festive ones and everyone seemed having something to celebrate, so we celebrated together!: a family rencounter, cousins meeting, new jobs, studies, politics, ... and the two of us celebrated with special joy surrounded by lots of delicious food, homemade red wine and the traditional Țuică plum spirit. Sweet surrender.



But all good things come to an end, and so it became time to move fordward again, from Alba Iulia to Brasov, our final destination! I couldn't wait to see the city where boyfriendo grew up.


We are so grateful for having stayed at Ileana's beautiful apartment, where she lived with Serban for two or three years before moving to France. From the living room and the kitchen we could see the Carpatian Mountains. Impossible not to fall in love with that.


We enjoyed a lot our new lifestyle, having a fixed home, a real kitchen to cook and the most vivid local food markets. These markets were definitely one of my favs. Also I could practice my new Romanian skills so definitely lots of fun.

Serban's dad took us to a clay molding class, a private atelier where we got the opportunity of getting our hands dirty and on the side learn about his hobby, wood sculpting and painting. We both are handcrafting-fans and it's an activity we can spend hours on without realising it.





Another part of the family was Auntie Rodica and her family. Iulia and Sergiu grew up toether with Serban so they're almost siblings. With them we spent the most of the time. They showed us the city, their house in the countryside, and of course... the romanian way of hiking. In Romania it's not considered a "hike" if you don't loose your breath.


As you might know, Romania, and specially the region of Transylvania, is a country of NATURE where the culture turns around mountains, forests, trekking, animals, ... and they take a lot of care about it. The forests and the wildlife are a real treasure for them.

Even though the hikes were LITERALLY breath-taking, we did had enough breath left to make a lot of jokes and spend such good moments together. And once more, we had the sun on our side. Luky us.


 
But also in the city we walked for hours. Brasov is a fortified city with many medieval monuments, towers and churches. In the evening the city-center got full and there were so many vintage-style bars. The food is quite healthy, soup is a must at lunch and polenta is one of the star dishes.

Climbing the Tâmpa Mountain was easy peasy after the bike trip. Our leg muscles were stronger than ever and our heart pumped like a machine. The reward was a spectacular and refreshing overview of the city from what was a key point in protecting the city back in time.


Brasov = Kronstadt = Stalinstadt, the city of many names, originally part of the roman Dacian Empire, later on governed by the Hungarian Kingdom and populated by the german Saxons during the 13th century, who made Brasov one of the seven citadels in Transylvania and who built the famous Bran Dracula's Castle... Constantly threatened by the Ottomans, Brasov rebuilt itself throughout the centuries and witnessed moments of glory as well as many wars and revolutions. On the 1st December of 1918 the Union of Transylvania with Romania, as well as other regions, took place. This day has became the National Holiday in the country, and we were there to be part of the celebration!


Sadly the country also witnessed the dictatorship of Nicolae Ceausescu during the Communist period, from 1965 to 1989, which came to an end with the the 1989 revolutions and Romania being the last country within the Warsaw Pact to put end to the 42 years of communist rule.

The third week of our stay Serban went to visit his grandparents in the north-west city of Baia Mare. Tata Petre and Mama Rina were so full of energy, making jokes all the time, teasing us and challenging us to finish another piece of cake. But I can hear the emotion in their voice everytime we talk on the phone...



During the free time we found out a very amazing group of yoga where we went once or twice a week and started diving into the yogic science, kundalini, prana, muladhara chakra, ...
We experienced a totally different yoga from what is commonly known in the West, where it's mostly seen as a relaxing sport or stretching before going to sleep. Far from that, yoga looks to awaken your senses and mind, driving you to an understanding of the body-mind functioning in a way we never learned at school. We will talk more about it... :)

Apart from these activities, we enjoyed going to the hipster restaurants, dancing contemporary with IDanceYou and paraglide jumping:



Romania, a country full of the unexpected, where the history will teach you how to enjoy its cities, where your feet will be ground to Earth and where you might as well stay in shape if you don't want the mountains to steal your breath away...



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