Trip Start Jul 08, 2013
Trip End Aug 06, 2013

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Flag of Romania  , Transylvania,
Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The driver's area of the early morning bus from Sighisoara was festooned with  - I counted - two dozen air fresheners. And a dream catcher. It wasn't until a few hours into the ride, when I wondered if my feet smelled that much (another story, another blog) and connected the smell of the bus with the decorations.

Otherwise, the ride was uneventful. Upon reaching Temisoara, I noticed the name of the street on which I was staying and I made a brave move to get off before the bus station. I got off, walked and was there in no time, although I was 20 minutes late due to the bus. Another sweaty, hurried walk. My host wasn't there waiting for me and I have no phone so I had a mild panic but she soon came running up, out of breath and apologetic. We gave each other a relieved hug and she showed me around the 1980s apartment of my dreams!

The apartment is in a Soviet era building and she has renovated the inside nicely, with Ikea and framed pictures of Michael Jackson and Marilyn Monroe. To be honest, the MJ poster was why I chose this place. That and the sweet, sweet air con. It was at least 20 degrees hotter here. It also smelled terrific - deodorizers everywhere. That's fine. No stinky feet.

There is a taxi stand right out front so I went on my epic train ticket journey. I know you want to hear all about it. The driver was nice enough until he dropped me off, saying the PU**Y word and making a kissing face. Inside the station, I looked around until I found a window with a word I recognized: "International". By each window stood a group of people, this one was no exception. I determined that first were the two young women, then the two olders, then me. I milled about like a local, when a sun-skinned, shower-needing man stepped in front of me. Within a couple of minutes another man started to do the same thing! LINES, PEOPLE! LINES! It was the Brasov bus all over again. I finally got to the window and a fragile old lady tried to step in front of me. I edged her to the side when she said something I assumed meant "I'm asking for information." Okay then. I'm not an a-hole.

I pantomimed and illustrated my need for a ticket to Budapest. We both understood each other and were ready for our awesome international transaction when it turned out I needed CASH. The only ATM in the station was currently being fixed. I was keeping it together.

Let's just say that I made the rounds outside, trying no fewer than five ATMs only to receive one of two messages: "No cash at this machine" and "Your card doesn't work here". Keeping it together. Keeping it together. Sweat trickling down my back and sides. Not having access to cash in a country where you don't speak-a the language or understand-a the culture is intense. Luckily, I had stashed emergency US cash in a pocket and just went to exchange that. It worked! 

Back inside was another long line where I firmly held my place, inches from the guy in front of me. I wrote down exactly what I wanted to buy and was so ready when I reached the window and held up the paper on which I'd written "BUDAPEST   7:30   19.7!"  The clerk was tickled and double checked with me to make sure the ticket she printed was the one I wanted.

I walked back to town down a very noisy street into town and soon noticed my tinnitus, which manifests with a ringing in my ears. This was the first time I could hear ringing above the sound of traffic. The good news is that now I know that stress be a trigger. Yoga, anyone? More hikes in the mountains?

As I walked, I thought about another lesson that traveling teaches me. Perseverance is key. There is always another way to solve your problem if you're tenacious. I teach kids who give up so easily, never having had the experience of trying new ways to solve problems. I can't wait to tell them about this, especially the part about being frustrated but not having the option of giving up!

I walked around, per usual, photographed buildings, fancy squares, fun graffiti. It was so hot I had to stop every 30 minutes or so to rest in the shade and watch people. Romanians? Men with man bags slung over their shoulders. Women in tiny, tiny clothes and chic, short hairdos. Older women were adorned with pink or red dye jobs. Hitchcockean pigeon swarms on statues and in fountains of every park.

I went back to the sweet little abode early, since it was definitely a place I want to hang out. If you ever head to this town, let me know so I can set you up!

Nearby, I mustered up the nerve to grab my phrasebook and use it for the first time to buy some wine (natch), laundry soap (finally (stinky! ) ! ), a banana, pastry and coffee. The clerk got a kick out of it, with what we will assume was a fondness for dorky foreigners.

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