Hello from Romania, everyone. KC and I have been traveling for almost a week: last week in Budapest, Hungary, yesterday in Sighisoara, Romania, and now we are in Bucharest until later this week. My computer is being weird right now so I apologize for any errors in this post. Not planning on proofreading this before posting, natch.
Sighisoara is a smallish town in Transylvania, and it is totally lovely. We spent the day there and had a wonderful time despite it being ridiculously cold. The town citadel sits on a hill and is full of medieval churches and towers. It had a very small-town atmosphere to it – everyone was incredibly friendly and helpful (somewhat unlike my previous experiences in eastern Europe). It was a lovely, idyllic day, and I definitely want to go back to the Transylvania region. We are actually considering cutting our time in Bucharest and going to Brasov instead. We spoke to a guy in one of the churches, and when we told him we were headed to Bucharest he said, “why would you go there? Go to Brasov or Sibiu instead. Bucharest is not very nice” (or something to that effect). Anyway, he might have been right. The mountains are gorgeous and I want to go back already.
Today has been kind of strange. After arriving in Bucharest around midnight yesterday, we set off this morning in search of a traditional market as recommended by our tour book. We took the tram a few stops and went from a slightly worn but still nice historic quarter to something straight out of dystopic fiction. The market was nice enough, mostly people selling trees and such for Christmas. A few blocks away, we stumbled upon a street lined by abandoned apartment houses which lead to a gigantic Soviet-looking abandoned megalith. The ground was covered in trash, with feral dogs gnawing on unidentified meats and shanty houses in the trees. It was so crazy to see that in the middle of a city. Definitely unsettled me for a little while. When we left the hotel I was not expecting to stumble into the Compton of Bucharest, but I think we did….
Don’t get me wrong, though – after we got out of the toughs, the day improved markedly. I wanted to see the Stavropoleos monastery in the historic quarter, and when we arrived there was a Romanian Orthodox service happening for Christmas eve.It was a very small church, nothing like the soaring cathedrals you often see, but it was one of the most beautiful things i’ve ever seen. There was a small choir singing a traditional song in Romanian. I am feeling inarticulate right now, so I will just say that it was very beautiful.
Ok, off to sleep for now. Most stores and restaurants closed early for Christmas eve – I hope we can find food tomorrow!