Breakfast at an outdoor cafe in Sighisoara is an adventure. There are nice scruffy stray dogs vying for Zoe’s attention, people taking pictures of Dracula’s birthplace, and tables made from old treadle sewing machines. All outside in the nice sunny morning air. We had some crepes and then were off to see the church in the citadel up on the hill and the school that is adjacent. Instead of going up the main stairs we found some others leading through the field and thought we’d try that route. The stairs eventually led to a tiny trail and then petered out all together at the top where we had to hop over a low wall into the school yard. The local girls were out back having a smoke during break (everyone smokes here, it is really irritating) and laughed at us. Oh well, we made it and visited the church. Zoe enjoyed hearing the story of Jesus while we pretended to do church again. Avi road in the carrier on Bethany and had fallen asleep. On the way down the hill we went down the main route through a wooden coverd stairway to our car.
Todays’ adventure: explore the Transylvanian countryside. Outcome: success! We drove in a big loop today visiting the town of Biertan first. It’s fortified church is supposed to be one of the best, but we actually thought it was not as adventurous at the one at Viscri yesterday. It was a similar idea: 2 walls surrounding the church. The inner being used for storage and safety for the townsfolk. This one is a bit more touristy, though, and there are lights and safety rules. It was still really neat! Before going in we had lunch at a medieval restaurant – the atmosphere fit the bill. It smelled like wood-burning grilled meat, had huge chunky furniture and lots of echo-y space. The food, though, was not good. Undercooked meats, and an odd omelet. Luckily, we also had some basic soup and bread and filled up on that. It was raining outside, so this was a nice pit stop. Driving around Biertan was fun, too. It’s almost all dirt roads and they were now just all muddy, so Bethany put her driving skills to use.
From Beirtan we drove through lots of other villages on a scenic loop through Transvylanian countryside. The kids were worn out from all the steps and wandering at the church, so they fell asleep. Alot of dirt road and tiny villages. These are interesting places. The locals hang out front of their little home compounds and chat and whatch us go by. There are lots of chickens, donkeys, cows, horses, and goats all over the towns. Some tied up and some just wandering. There are also packs of roving dogs all over the place. On occassion we’ll pass a sheperd hearding his sheep on the hillside, but once a guy had is whole flock right in town. We had to wait while they all drank at the town spring and trough and wandered down the road past us. It is sometimes surreal and we feel like we’ve gone back in time to the middle ages, but then we notice the satellite dishes and the electric wires. Often, though, there are old ladies hauling buckets of water or a horse-cart pulling a young foal that really put into perspective the amazingly lush lives we lead back in the U.S. At one point we drove in one town in search of a wooden church as labeled on our tour map from the info office. We drove around a bit and after our second turn around the locals were all out trying to see what we were doing – keep in mind this is in a town of about 300. The first family we asked had no idea and then an old lady, who was taking a picture of us with her cell phone, came up to the window. We pointed to the icon on of the church and the description of it in the legend. She read it and said a bunch of something in Romanian. We caught that it was here…anymore….and something about pentecostal. hmm. Then she talked some more and we caught that she wanted to know where we were from, on hearing that it was the United States she got all excited and the young man with her seemed super excited to actually be witnessing the sight of American women. The old lady talked alot with fervor mentioning Chicago and Claudia. I guess she wanted to know if we met Claudia who lived there. Maybe Claudia used to be from this town? who knows. The lady was very nice and helpful. I’m sure the whole town will be buzzing about the two American’s with sleeping kids who would tell Claudia she said “hi” next time they were in Chicago. I’m sure that old lady has no concept of the size of a city like Chicago.
Another stop found us all (awaken the kids) hiking up the side of a mountain past some old run down houses and a muddy stinky barnyard-backyard trying to find an old-growth forest preserve. We hiked around for a while with no luck even after getting help from two separate guys. No idea where this was…the lonely planet directions sucked….but we had fun being out in the wet woods finding giant snails and being trailed by yet another pack of dogs Istanbul had Prides of Cats, Transylvania has Packs of Dogs.
Finshing our loop in Sighisoara, we stopped at the Penny Market to grab some food for dinner since we have the kitchen. Got ingredients for grilled cheese. Then we drove out of town to a little resort/hotel that does horseback riding. We had been hoping for a trail ride of some kind or a cart ride, but found out that Zoe was too young for a trail ride and the carts would be out on the main road. Carts on the road would be authentic…that’s where we’ve seen the most…but dangerous and not scenic. So, we opted for Zoe to just get a pony ride around the ring. We had to wait a bit and wandered over to a little sample-farm that had these crazy baby goats head butting each other and leaping off logs. Zoe loved feeding them grass. Avi loved the highland cow that licked his hands and he just belly laughed after watching the pig snort around and wag its tail. Too funny and a nice end to the day. Zoe’s pony ride was a hit! She road Negretsa – the black pony – and had fun patting her neck and feeding her dandelions. It was all just too cute. We raced dusk home and had a super late dinner. Bethany did a great job making grilled cheese on the open flame gassed up wood burning oven. She had a tiny cast iron griddle and two knives for flipping. She then got the kids to sleep quickly while I cleaned up. Can’t believe it’s our last night in a hotel on this adventure. Tomorrow will be tiring…so we’re going to attempt to sleep in. Checkout isn’t until noon. We’ll make our way back to Bucharest for a late late 10 pm flight to Koln and catch a 2am train to Neuss. Not the ideal situation, but it was the best option pricewise and timewise when we booked.
Sorry I haven’t posted pictures….the internet here has been patchy and we’ve been so busy it’s all I can do to type the blog before bed. Will do as soon as I can get a bit of time. That is hard to come by with two kiddo’s in a foreign country…even with Bethany’s incredible help. Go team pteranadon!