Well, this is my last day in Sibiu. Tomorrow morning, I'm catching a train back to Bucharest, where I will leave Romania for Bulgaria the following morning. It's been an interesting ride, for sure. Though there were some unexpected surprises along the way (it wouldn't be a trip otherwise), and not always of the positive kind.
Everything started rather well. Flew on an Air France A-380 Airbus, the largest commercial airplane in the world. There were no delays, and I arrived in Bucharest on time. My luggage landed with me, which was a relief. Made my way to the Midland Hostel without a glitch by catching a ride on the 783 bus from the airport. Had my first taste of delicious Romanian food at La Mama that first night. Also tasted two different Romanian beers, and at those prices I knew I'd be drinking plenty more of it!
Though the forecast was for rain, it only rained at night for the three days I was there. That second day, Alina, a girl I met on Couchsurfing, picked me up and drove us to a nearby village where we had a splendid traditional meal at some of her friends' house. We had a great time. The following afternoon, she took me on an "alternative" city tour that showed me all those places you never read about in the brochures. It was a day-long tour punctuated with beer stops instead of pit stops! All in all, I left Bucharest with a big smile on my face.
Arrived in Brasov and it was even more beautiful than I expected. Sunny and warm, it was a wonderful day as I made my way to the very nice little hostel called Jugend Stube. For a ridiculously low price, they actually cook breakfast for you every morning and you get a free beer every day. Can't beat that!
For 15 euro each, the owner, Alex, took me and three other guests on a day-long castle tour of the region. Our first stop was at the gorgeous Peles Castle in Sinaia. After lunch, we headed out to the Rasnov fortress, where my trip would take a turn for the worse. . . I was walking with a Brazilian guy named Lucas, on our way back down to meet up with the others. Out of nowhere, a stray dog attacks me from behind, bitting my calf, and then leaves. Taken by surprise, I shouted and then saw the blood. In case you didn't know Romania and Thailand are two of the absolute worst places in the world for errant dogs. The state does nothing about them, so they roam everywhere as they please. As a result, rabies is commonplace. . .
Of course, there was no first aid kit at the fortress. Not surprising, as any Romanians will tell you. They are very cynical about the fact that nothing quite works as it should in their country (gotta love them for that). That humorous trait was kind of lost on me at that moment, however, because I was in pain and leaking blood to boot. One of the shopkeepers poured some water on the wound, while another who spoke French couldn't stop apologizing for what had happened. A security guard returned with what I first thought to be disinfectant, only to realize that it was a bottle of Windex!!! Are you fucking kidding me!?! I would have paid a lot of money to see the look on my face as the guy sprayed window cleaner on my calf!
So they put plasters on it and we were on our way down back toward the parking. In North America, I could have made a bundle with a lawsuit for this. But in Romania, you get apologies and window cleaner on your leg. . .
Alex took me to the local hospital. Of course, they didn't have the injections required, but they did disinfect the wound, stopped the bleeding, and patched me up good. The pain wasn't bad and I didn't want to spoil everyone's afternoon, so I insisted that we all visit Bran Castle (Dracula's digs) before returning to Brasov. And we did.
So back in Brasov, Alex drove me to the hospital, where I finally received treatments. To my dismay, I also discovered that one of the vaccines came in five doses and that I had a schedule I needed to keep for those additional injections. Otherwise, there is no cure for rabies and I could die what is supposed to be quite a horrible death. No doubt some of the haters and my detractors would like that, but I'd much rather die of a heart stoppage as I'm having sex, thank you very much! The treatments cost a bundle, but that's what travel insurance is for, I guess.
Thankfully, my calf didn't swell overnight. There was no acute pain or skin discoloration, so in the short term all was okay. I'm still able to make the most of my trip, which is the most important thing.
So after another day in sunny Brasov, I took the train to Sighisoara. It was another glorious day when I arrived in the afternoon, so I spent a few hours wandering around the citadel. Oddly enough, I was the only guest at the Gia Hotel, which kind of sucked. But I had met a couple of Canucks at the train station, so we had dinner together. It was fun to talk about hockey and politics for a couple of hours.
It started pouring that night and it wouldn't stop for the mext 24 hours or so. The next morning, armed with that little piece of paper that's supposed to be my Romanian medical file and a small note from the girl at the reception explaining that I was bitten by a stray dog and needed the second vaccine, I made my way to the hospital in the driving rain, dearly hoping that someone would understand enough English to give the appropriate injection. Thank God it went well, though it took a while to make them understand that I had no Romanian health care card or whatever and that I was paying for the treatments in cash. Don't know if I was screwed, but the consultation and the vaccin cost me twice as much as in Brasov.
Arrived in Sibiu yesterday. Very nice city, though it's been overcast and/or raining here as well. I'm staying at the Flying Time hostel. Nice place, with all the amenities backpackers ask for. But where the fuck is everyone??? There were only me and a Swedish girl here last night!
Though the country suffers from several quirks that can annoy you, I've been enjoying myself immensely. Other than being bitten by an errant dog and perhaps having rabies, that goes without saying. The food is great, tasty, filling, and affordable. The beer is good and cheap. The two things that annoy me the most have to be that credit cards are accepted almost nowhere, even when there's a Visa sticker in the door. And my biggest pet peeve would have to be the chain smoking. Nothing better than a journey in Eastern Europe to make you appreciate just how lucky we are to now be living in a smoke-free environment. Some restaurants have a non-smoking section, but most don't. And Romanians smoke like it's going out of style! =(
But all in all, it's been a fun ride. Will need to go to the hospital in Bucharest tomorrow to receive that third vaccine, and then I'm off to Ruse, Bulgaria.
Have to tell you that I'm not looking forward to tackling the Cyrillic alphabet. . . ;-) This is going to a bitch, I just know it! They say that it takes about an hour and a beer to figure it out. Hopefully they're right!
Take it easy. . .