Thursday, May 31, 2012

More Travels

Where was I… my last post ended with a bit of cliffhanger.  I mentioned that our fortunes had shifted when Josi and I returned to Romania.  As a refresher, we were taking a two week trip around Romania, Austria, Germany, and Slokaia as part of our Easter vacation.  We just finished our visits to other countries and were returning to Romania.  Since there was time left in our vacation, we took the opportunity to visit Sighisoara, the birthplace of Vlad Tepes (Dracula). 

We arrived at the Otopeni airport of Bucuresti and took the city bus to the train station.  I had a card with multiple rides on it, so Josi and I shared.  First I scanned the card for me, then I pressed the “2” button and scanned it for Josi.  All set, we sat back and enjoyed our ride.  Several stops into our 40 minute voyage downtown, a set of controllers boarded the bus.  I confidently handed one my electronic card, he did a verification scan, which says only 1 ride has been deducted, so we were short one pass and needed to pay a fine.  Terribly confused, Josi and I tried arguing a bit.  He even demonstrated the proper way to use one card for two riders (which was exactly the process I thought I’d followed…)  Finally, we gave up; there was no way to argue our way out of it, so we paid the fine of 50 RON (lei), thankful that it wasn’t as expensive as the fine we’d avoided in Vienna (90 Euros each).  Although upset we’d had to pay a fine for something we’d been confident was in order, we put it out of our minds for our long train ride (nearly 6 hours) to Sighisoara.

Sighisoara is actually only one stop before the station where we’d gone off the train to visit Dambau only a week before.  We had found a very cheap pension, and we had the address, but we weren’t entirely sure how to get there from the train station at night.  We needn’t have worried.  It was directly across the street.  It was actually only a few steps further than the nearest taxi.  It was late when we arrived, so we planned our day for the next morning and stayed in for the night.
I am taking the photo from the train station.  Our pension is where the red sign is.

The next day we explored the small city (more of a town, depending on your personal opinions of the size, I think it has approximately 20,000 residents)  After wandering the lower part of the city for a while we ventured up the stairs into  the fortified town area.  Most of the buildings date back to medieval times, and many of the towers that stood along the wall are still standing.  We visited the birth house of Vlad Tepes, went into the town museum/clock tower, and generally explored the place.  The crowning building is a German church, but we decided not to pay an entrance fee to visit it.  We also ate some good Romanian food, visited some shops with  nice folk art crafts and others super ridiculously kitschy Dracula souvenirs.

Yep, kitschy dracula stuff.

The Plaque on the Vlad Dracula House

The clock tower in Sighisoara by night.

We stayed a second evening in Sighisoara, but by this point it was Friday, so on Saturday we slept in, revisited the city for a short while, and then Josi and I parted ways.  I returned to Constanta, and Josi went to Medias, where she had a conference with her school and some other schools about a drama project.

Back in Constanta I had a busy week.  I was teaching double the number of classes, so that I could take a special leave the following week, the week straddling April and May.  Having double classes meant I spent a lot of time planning lessons and doing my laundry from a long trip.   Josi returned to Constanta late on Wednesday, and I was leaving again on Friday, so we made sure to have a night out with our friends on that Thursday.  We had dinner with Angelina, Atilla, Achilleas, and Daka.  Daka’s birthday was April 18th, so he and I wished each other a happy birthday, and I cautioned him to use my gift of the age 22 wisely.  Next year I think I’ll give him my hand-me-down 23.
Daka and I each had our birthdays over Easter vacation.

Friday after class I left for Bucuresti, where I stayed the night at the apartment of a couple in the Fulbright program.  They actually were gone to Greece, but I stayed with their dog sitter, who was a very nice graduate student in American Studies in Bucuresti.  The next morning I took a flight to Boston, via London.  My flight arrived in Boston only 30 minutes before a flight from Baltimore, which was carrying Nate!  My dad picked us up from the airport and took us to my parents’ house in New Hampshire, where I met a special someone: my new nephew Royce!  Royce was born a week after my birthday, on April 22nd.  He is a beautiful little boy, and I was thrilled to be able to visit him. 
Me and Royce

Nate stayed for the weekend and flew back to DC for his classes on that Monday, but not before I had a Skype interview with a school in the DC area, for a middle school teaching position.  It went so well that the next morning they called and offered me the job, requesting that I come to visit the school before I returned to Romania.  Using my dad’s award miles on Southwest, I flew down Thursday evening, and Nate picked me up at the airport.  The next morning, Friday, Nate drove me to the school and waited in the parking lot while I toured the school.  I loved the school and signed on to teach there next year.  Victorious, I went back with Nate to his lab at the University of Maryland and got so see where he works.  I then took the metro to the school where I completed my student teaching and got to visit the teachers and some of the students, sharing my news that I would be teaching in the same school district next year.  That night I went out with Nate and some other friends who I hadn’t seen since graduation in May 2011 to an Ethiopian restaurant.  The food was delicious, but it was a very different style.  Instead of forks and spoons, you use a sort sourdough crepe and scoop up the food in that. 
The courtyard and garden behind my new school

The next day I returned to New Hampshire to spend some more time with my family and Royce before returning to Romania.  The next day we even had a family reunion of my dad’s family, with all my aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins, and my grandparents, with the exception of one person.
The Browher clan

I flew back to Romania via London, where I had an 8 hour layover.  When I arrived in Bucuresti, it was 11:30 pm.  I took a bus into the city center.  My plan was to wait at the train station until the early bus left for Constanta at 5:30 am, but it was closed, so I camped out in a little 24 hour café/bar attached to the station.  I took the early bus, arrived in Constanta at 9:00, then took the bus to the University to get my apartment keys from Achilleas.  (Josi and some friends from her program borrowed my apartment when I was gone, but Josi had now left for Germany and couldn’t hand off my keys.)  My phone was dead, so I had to charge my phone for 5 minutes in the university lobby before I could call Achilleas and tell him I was there.  He came out of class, got me the keys, and helped me and my baggage to a taxi.  I went to my apartment, showered, and headed back to the university to teach from 12:00- 4:00pm.  This was Wednesday—I hadn’t slept since the night between Sunday and Monday.  After class I slept until 6:00 am the next day, because I had class from 8:00-12:00.  I went home, packed, and took an overnight train to Sibiu for a conference with the rest of the Fulbrighters.  More about that conference to come!

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful work! I felt as though I was on the trip with you. Drum bun!