Now I Know Why Vampires Drink Blood

Well, that trip was success.  I went to Transylvania and I managed to avoid all vampires.  Please don't misunderstand me, though, the trip was full of dangers.  Starvation and crazy cars top the list.

Let's start with the cars.  We drove from Békéscsaba to Cluj-Napoca (the town in which we stayed).  After sitting at the border crossing for at least half an hour, we crossed on to a pothole filled street.  We were going to stop at a gas station to buy a map but it was closed.  The next one was open, but they didn't have any maps.  They had gas, drinks, and a lady selling some sort of giant white cubes of cheese out of a bucket.  I didn't buy any, and I regretted it later.

Transylvanian Church on a HillsideThe roads had many spots where construction may or may not have been in progress.  Half of the road would be closed off, leaving only one open lane.  There was a small stoplight (not operated by a person) that would say who could go.  People seemed to go whenever they decided it was time, so the stoplight really didn't serve any purpose.

At one of these little stoplight areas, a gypsy family had decided to hang out.  As soon as we were forced to stop, the group of kids ran up to each car and started begging.  I'm surprised they didn't get hit by a car.

That leads me into the drivers.  There seem to be two kinds of drivers in Erdély:  1. People who are going to a burning house full of all their loved ones, and they can't get there quick enough.  2. People who are on the way to a very mean dentist who doesn't use any pain medication.

Since all of the roads were two lanes - with many stupid stoplight construction areas - it was an interesting ride.  The fast cars passed the slow cars whenever they felt like it.  Blind curve?  No problem.  On-coming traffic?  No problem.  Herd of sheep in the road?  Problem, everyone has to come to a screeching halt.  It all became very interesting when we got to the mountian roads that had many more blind curves.  I'll leave that part to your imagination.

I mentioned sheep because there were a lot of these.  I was very impressed and excited to see that the shepherds still dressed in giant sheepskin coats/robes to stay warm.  These outfits are common in museums, but I wasn't aware they were still in use.  Maybe they'll be stylish in cities next year too.Transylvanian Stacks of Hay

Cluj-Napoca itself was much different than anything I expected to find.  First of all, it's huge.  It has a population of over 300 thousand people.  Many people spoke English (perhaps because there's a big university) and this helped in finding everything we needed.  Except restaurants.

Remember how I said Dracula has been doing everything he can to stop me from going to Transylvania?  Well once I got there, he tried to deprive me of food.  We had a car to get around and directions from the staff of our hotel, but we still couldn't find anything.

After at least an hour of searching for any restaurant, we settled down in a very nice place.  It was ornately decorated (including an awesome black chandelier - something that I need to get for Castle Alex), the food was tasty and filling, and we had a wonderful view of the falling snow outside.

I'm too tired to come up with a Hungarian word of the day, so I'll have to give you an English phrase that was said by a Hungarian:

Machine Document

This is what the Hungarian border guards asked for - coming and going - when they wanted the information on our car.  Since we are not used to hearing a car referred to as a machine, it brought us some laughter.  I'm not criticizing their strange use of English (my Hungarian isn't any better), but it was  very catchy phrase we have been repeating.