Sadly, I found out the hard way that Nalgenes do break. I left mine in the freezer at the PC office and had filled it a little too full of water so it didn’t survive. Oops, luckily my parents are visiting soon and are going to bring me another.
Sighișoara was our next stop. We arrrived in the late afternoon and took a taxi from the train station to our hostel inside the citadel. Sighișoara is considered to be one of the most well preserved inhabited citadels in Europe. Jon and Abby had visited before so while Abby washed some clothes, Jon took Theron and I on a short walk around the area. After the walk we decided to have some dinner at the hostel next door and watch the Euro Cup game that was playing.
The next morning we got up and parted ways, Abby and Jon wanted to search for some Geocaches and Theron and I went to explore the town. All the watchtowers in Sighișoara were guarded by different guilds, and the main one in the center was guarded by all. At the top of the main watchtower you can see all of Sighișoara, and it was a beautiful day to take pictures. After the watchtower we walked to the outside of the citadel to find some lunch. The first place we stopped wasn’t serving food so we sat on the terrace and had a drink. There was a father and son also sitting on the terrace, and when they heard our English they wanted to know where we were from. He also heard me spea some Romanian and complimented me on how well I was doing. (Nice, but really not true). Him and his son were visiting from Canada, but he had spent part of his childhood in Romania. After we left we met back up with Abby and Jon and walked down to the train station to catch our train to Bucharest.
We arrived in Bucharest around 10, and went straight to our hostel, which was also connected to a bar. We all went to bed early because we had to leave at 6AM to catch our flight to Istanbul. As we were leaving our hostel we all got a good laugh about the guy passed out at the bar. He looked like he had had a good night 😉 We got to our hostel around in Istanbul around noon, checked-in and then had some lunch at the restaurant on the roof of the hostel. It had an awesome view of the water.
After lunch we walked to the Aya Sophia (Hagia Sofia). It was so pretty and interesting to see all the history inside the building. It was also full of tourists. Our next stop was the Blue Mosque, which is right across the courtyard from Aya Sophia. The Blue Mosque is a working mosque, so men have to wear long pants to enter and women must cover their knees and shoulders. Because I didn’t pack appropriate clothing I was given 2 blue smocks to cover myself while inside. The inside was covered entirely with tiles. I preferred the Aya Sophia to the Blue Mosque on the inside, also I was disappointed about how loud people were being inside, it didn’t seem really respectful to me. We then went on a walk, saw a smaller version of the Aya Sophia, an old market and then ended up near the water, the Bosphorus Strait, where we ate fish sandwiches and then explored the Spice Bazaar. While walking through the Spice Bazaar I found it funny listening to the shopkeepers trying to sell their products, they all had about the same lines they would use. My favorite was “spend some money on your hunny,” they were talking to Theron and we just laughed because I am not his “hunny” 😉 After exiting we went to find Abby and Jon, which was kind of difficult with the amount of people around the bazaar. Abby had told Theron and I we were easy to spot with our bright clothing, that was the opposite for Abby and Jon because they blended in more. We then went back to the hostel and had some baklava and tea before bed.
O zi buna!
(Sorry this post is long and has lots of pictures)
I took my second vacation from Moldova at the end of June. This time it was with some friends. I was very blessed to have one of my best friends, Theron come all the way to Eastern Europe! We also traveled with two other friends that we both met in college who are also PCVs. They serve in Romania and have been teaching English there for a little over a year. The vacation started with Abby and Jon picking Theron up from the airport in Bucharest and then taking the train to Moldova. I suggested they take the overnight train because I thought it would be more comfortable for them, and it probably would have been if it wasn’t like a sauna inside and had windows that opened. I met them all in Chisinau and we began our Moldovan leg of our journey. First stop being at the PC office so they could drop off their bags. We then got some food then took off to find a Geocache. (It was my first). After spending several hours in Chisinau, we left to go to my site so everyone could meet my host family. My host mom prepared some traditional Moldovan food for us (mamaliga and sarmale). We then relaxed and planned out what we were going to do the next day.
On Sunday morning we woke up, had some breakfast and my host mom called us a taxi to take us to a geological site called “100 hills.” It was about 45 minutes from where I live, after walking to the highest hill our driver tok us out to the border town called Costesti. It is situated along the Prut River, which also borders Romania. It is a popular Moldovan spot for swimming and relaxing in the summer. After we went back to Riscani we stopped by the piata, bought some vegetables and then had some lunch at a local cafe.
The next morning we headed to Suceava, Romania. Suceava has a lot of similar things to Moldova. I think part of this is because about 700 years ago it was the capital of the Moldovian state, which did include part of Moldova for some time. Stefan cel Mare (Stefan the Great) is also a principal figure for town. He built many churches in the area around Suceava. He is very important to Romanian history as well as Moldovan. I took no pictures while in Suceava because while packing I was not thinking well and forgot to pack the battery to my camera, I did buy one in Cluj though, so all wasn’t lost :). While in Suceava we stayed with another PCV, she was a excellent host and tour guide. I also met 3 other PCVs in Romania. One stop on our way to Cluj was the Voroneț Monastery. It was beautiful and was situated next to a cute little town. Check out this link if you want to learn more about it.
*Random sidenote about Romania, unlike in Moldova, it is not legal to drink in public. I bought a beer and was drinking it at the train station and 2 policeman came by and told me they were going to give me a fine. I promptly put it in the trash and apologized, they did not end up giving me a fine, but they did scare me.
We then took the night train to Cluj. It arrived in Cluj around 5:30 AM. The town was quiet. We spent some time looking around and when the shops started opening up, we got a map from the tourist office, found a camera shop to buy me a battery and Abby and Jon found another couple of Geocaches. Around 11 we bought some food and made our way to the botanical garden to eat it. After we walked around it, then made our way to highest point in Cluj to get some pictures of the city. We walked up about 250 stairs, took some photos then rested before making our way down and back to the train station to go to Sighișoara.
O zi buna!
A couple of weeks ago 2 other volunteers asked if they could come over and visit me at my site. They met me at my work and we walked back to my host family’s place where my host mom made us some food for lunch. I decided to go down to the beci (cellar) and get some adjica (sp?). It is a sauce that Moldovans conserve made with tomatoes, peppers, garlic, kind of like a spicy ketchup and it is really good with potatoes. When I tried to open it, it was fizzing out of the bottle, and since it is greasy and red I left it alone because I didn’t want tog et my clothes dirty. My one friend decided that he would open it, and it exploded all over him and my kitchen. We all decided that it must have gone bad, and we didn’t want to tell my host mom, so for the next 30 or so minutes we cleaned my kitchen. It was everywhere including the walls, ceiling and overhead light fixture. We got it all cleaned up, and later that night we explained what happened to my host mom. She just laughed. I am so glad she has a sense of humor about things 🙂