Dear anyone who is at all mildly interested…
First off. dan, not sure of your spelling of blummin ‘eck on the last comment, your strange southern St Albans interpretation metamorphasising into blimmin. Also in the last image link you may want to alter the arrow slightly so it does a dog leg at Ruse on the border. I’m only thinking of accuracy my lad.
Secondly, at last I have escaped the windows 98 hole that is Brasov and now in Bucharest I have the full force of XP. That means I can make things bold, italics, different colours,
and other weird and strange geeky stuff. Including putting a small version of Dans map up of where we are so far
If you click on the thumbnail above it should take you to a larger image which was posted in a comment by dan on the previous blog.
Anyways lets get down to business. First off, I know its on the front of your mental lobes so to speak; yes I did find a tooth brush. I think it set me back around 86p but boy oh boy have I never felt so good brushing my teeth with that baby. Theres definitely something about a brand new tooth brush working in unison with some tesco’s home brand blue minty gel which when confronted with a mouth which resembles a moldy bruised peach you forgot about in the fruit bowl can cause absolute ecstasy. That colgate tooth brush was my holy grail. Halelujah [spell?]
So where did I leave you, ah yes, my walk. Well, with my latest conquest of which would be worthy of any indiana jones sequel barely drying in my washbag I was faced with trying to drag claudio the 3km along and 950m up the Brasov hill/mountain. He wasn’t having any of it, so, feeling quite pumped after a better than ‘baking soda WOW’ moment I set off around 2pm to tackle the beast myself, promising to meet Claudio and his new found female chums 😉 at the top around 4pm. Off i went with a bottle of water and my cag and not a care in the world. It was a scene fit for a small group of children running around in Nazi occupied Austrian Alps led by a slightly manic lady who struggles to have conversations which don’t start with ‘Doe a Dear’.
Whats more I was in a real steaming mood and was well up for a bit of hearty exhilarating exercise. The first 15 minutes took me a little by surprise though; I was starting to have a mild hangover, strange since I didn’t really drink a great deal, and it wasn’t helped by the fact I had had no lunch. Consequently I got a little dizzy and so spent 15 minutes drinking some water and browsing through my photos on my camera that I had taken so far. Lots of buildings. I mean lots. Positively loads. Hundreds perhaps. You get the picture [awful, I apologise]. After this stop I continued up to the top which only took another 20 minutes or so despite the trip being a little advertised as an hour walk [superfit Andy Pandy, its those Jackson calves – moooo]. However this is where it all started to go a little bit mountain shaped. Feeling really pumped now I was just in teh frame of mind to keep moving on up [#now, baby..#] so I just looked for the next inclination to climb. This was a bit daft because as I realised in hindsight I’d reached the main ridge and all it needed was a left rather than a right to take me to the top cable car station where I could enjoy the view and have a little nap. Ah well, I obviously didn’t want any of that namby pamby stuff.
Despite warnings from some locals which involved lots of arm waving and the use of the word Tampa [only after i realised this was the name of the location i was supposed to be going to, bugger the sign posts] I carried on my way. Now I’m not sure when it really hit me that I was going the wrong way. I started to have suspicions when I began to walk downhill. Thats never a good sign when you know your supposed to be headed for a big Hollywood style BRASOV which is buried distinctively high UP in the mountains. Nevertheless I didn’t fret too much because as soon as I hit a small stream i was going up again. Much more reassuring. Maybe it was about 40 mins after I had reached the top of the path of the main ridge that I had worries. Sheer obstinance and ignorance of the fact that I could be wrong stopped me from turning round any earlier. A little voice kept telling me: ‘its fine Andy, its a lovely walk, there’ll be a circular route round here somewhere, you just keep on walking ahead, don’t listen to that paranoid bugger’. The paranoid bugger being the slightly more timid voice in my head saying: ‘it has been a fair distance to be honest mate, we only seem to be going up, and this track looks more like a logging track than anything else, plus at that clearing back there I didn’t recognise those buildings down below – might be the next village’.
As it happens, just before i began to crack I reached a T junction of sorts with one bit of it going down. Almost straight down. So straight down in fact, that I employed the use of a stick in true rambler style, although said stick gave me a blister so its not in that top shelf novel entitled ‘Andy’s stick good books’ right now. I descended several hundred metres down a gritty went path which was much a scree slope as a track. Eventually after a few more brows I got to a concrete road which led down from a water tower into what I soon realised was the back streets of the back of old town. Another twenty minute walk and I was back at the hostel. Except it was 4:20, oh bugger. Claudio, Laura and Lisa were due to meet me at the top twenty minutes ago. Do I sleep? Do I wait for them to come back here? What if they’re waiting for me for ages? Ah crap.
And so began my second journey to the foot of the mountain where after failing to get the cable car up because the woman behind the counter wouldn’t except my big note and so when i then fumbled around with change wouldn’t let me off 15p, I began my second ascent of the mountain. Feeling a little macho I ran the first 50m. Bad move. I don’t do running. Long strides andy, long strides, being 6ft 2 must be good for something. Fueled on a sugar high from a polenka [local vodka type drink] soaked very sweet chocolate coated fruit sponge cake thingy I practically scorched my way 3/4s up in 20 minutes. Again. At this point I bumped into Claudio and the girls who asked where I’d been and all that, I replied with my story and they looked instantly uninterested, I shut up after that.
The descent was a lot slower than the ascent to be fair. The rocks are slippy and its easy to lose your footing on the path; doing so would be like when you used to slide down the stairs on your bum when you were a kid, except at around 50 mile an hour and several tonnes of leaf mold added to the experience. I kept a good 5 yards in front of the others because I was what you may call, rather sweaty. Very in fact. Its not pleasant. I don’t like to talk about it. Lets move on.
That evening we went for a bite to eat with the girls and then got back and played cards until midnight, introducing yet another set of people to the adrenaline packed card game that is spoons. Claudio was dead chuffed because I didn’t win.
Today we caught a maxi taxi from Brasov to Bucharest. That was only after we had the most expensive bus journey of our time so far. Basically in Brasov and in a lot of eastern European countries you have to buy your bus ticket from shops before u get on the bus and then when you’re on you stick it in a machine and it gets validated. Except we were told you could buy tickets from the driver like in any half decent sensible country [god dam it]. Except when we got on the no. 4 bus at the beginning of its route we found we couldn’t. Oh dear we thought, never mind, looks like we’ll just have to black ride like we’ve done in every other country we’ve been in so far. Normally thats not too risky business. This, however, wasn’t normally. This was traveling the whole length of the no.4 route, from start to finish. It was our destiny to get stung. On the second to last stop of course.
We made our case to the greecy looking ticket inspectors. They wore no uniform, they were unshaven and smelly. We were, me and claudio, Nicholas [Maylasia] and Pomhee [Korea]. Threats were made on their side regarding passports and police stations and all other such crap. Eventually the argument was taken off the bus to where the english speaking inspector conceded that maybe the 40 RON [400’000 old Lei] fine which is about 8 quid could be done on a two for one deal. I couldn’t be arsed so I whipped out 400k to cover me and claudio before they changed their minds. The other guys did the same. Only thing was we got issued one ticket between the four of us. Back pocket. Claudio wasn’t having any of it and I think the old Italian genes caused some gland in his body to start producing a ‘I’m really pissed off with you right now so you better bloody well do what I say’ hormone. After some raised voices and some Romanian profanity the bigger, fatter and greecier inspector of the two threw into Claudio’s face the second ticket we wanted as proof of payment. Take that you, you, you…. not very nice inconsiderate not so compassionate people!
What now really took the piss was that the maxi taxi we wanted only had space for 2 people and not four so consequently we had to wait for the next one for us to all get on. Had we known we’d have not rushed for the no.4 which was just pulling away as we walked to the beginning of its route. If you’ve read the blog on the Pecs – Romania blog then I can tell you Romanian queuing is no better. We ended up missing a second maxi taxi. We were just sitting on our bags in the sun not really paying a great deal of attention when it turned into a scene of bees to a honey pot. Needless to say for the third maxi taxi we were prepared. I waited at teh front of a mob with enough cash for four tickets in my hand whilst the driver was away. When the doors opened i expected a reasonably civilised bit of pushing and shoving to teh front of the queue where he would let us on on one by one as we bought tickets. That wasn’t to bet the case. As he opened up teh back to let Claudio, Nicholas and Pomhee to put the backpacks in the boot one elderly guy put a plaggy bag of crap on a seat and then went round the back to put a larger bag with our packs. Okay I thought, sensible. Not so sensible was letting a woman who I thought was saving his place barge past followed by a number of kids. At this point I thought blow this [actually I thought something a little less PG than ‘blow this’] and piled myself into the back of the minibus as well. I shouted at teh lads to get their ass into the vehicle so they ended up climbing over bags and the back seat to get in as well. Carnage.
The journey was long, uncomfortable, crampt and hot. The journey from the metro station to the hostel was long, uncomfortable, sweaty and hot. However we rewarded ourselves this evening with a lovely massive meal from a really nice traditional Romanian restaurant up the road [post visit to the travel agency]. Got back to the hostel, had a rather bloated shower and freshened up for our evening walk to Ceacescu’s Peoples Palace. The second biggest govt building in the world, next to the Pentagon [possibly just the second biggest building in the world]. Crazy stuff. What was crazier is I started to get bad indigestion. Having eaten only 6 slices of toast around 8am that morning, my evening meal was somewhat rushed and somewhat larger than any meal I’ve had for a long time. Now I don’t get indigestion often, but when I get it I get it bad. Normally two very carefully placed fingers are the only solution to such a big problem for me and to be honest I’m too skint to waste food and it looked fine the first time I saw it, I don’t want bad impressions from the second. Therefore the hunt for the all-night pharmacy began. The nice lady behind the counter gave me some cheap red pills, and contrary to what leather trench coated sunglassed bold black men sitting in large red leather chairs by a fire place in an abandoned building might say, it merely did the trick when washed down with a bit of flat coke. No worries.
Anyways, all my internet time is almost up so I shall love you and leave you. We’re catching the 11.35am train from Bucharest to Ruse tomorrow [see map] where we change in Ruse with a 2 hr stop over before traveling to varna arriving around 8pm at night. Its all gravy.
Until next time, definitely Varna this time