Friendship & Travel (Week 5)

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As I sit here and reflect on my experience in Romania, I’m baffled by how much time has passed! Five weeks feels like five days, and I’m saddened by the thought of having only three short weeks left in this beautiful country. I’m sitting here writing after returning from a fulfilling evening of playing frisbee with friends. Pause. Friends. It’s been so easy to meet people and get to know them. Like when I studied in Lithuania, I’ve grown deep in relationship with some wonderful individuals who will completely welcome me any time I visit Europe in the future. It’s so bittersweet. I hate the prospect of leaving and changing these close ties, but I have also grown to know and love the beautiful dynamics of relationships.

With that, I’m going to share some photos and stories from my travels with these friends the past few weekends.

Last weekend, we spent Saturday on a road trip toward Northeastern Romania (Ceahlău, to be exact). We made quite a few stops along the way, which is what made this trip perfect! Stop 1 was lunch at a beautiful restaurant and wedding venue. The rest I captured through photos below: (Click on each photo to read caption)

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Stop 2 was this fantastic gorge. It used to be filled with trees, but then water started collecting and never left. If you look closely, you can see countless petrified trees poking out of the water.

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Stop 3 was this crazy, beautiful passage through the rocks. The road was like this for miles!

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And Stop 4, we went swimming in this lake. It’s very long and oddly shaped; our hotel was also on the lake, just an hour away.

We made it to Ceahlău Saturday evening and spent the night in a little hotel. Then Sunday we hiked up a mountain to a gorgeous waterfall! And when I say hike, I mean, like straight uphill at some points. I was exhausted on Monday! After hiking for 5 hours, we piled into the car and drove straight home before crashing in bed. All in all, one of the best weekends I’ve experienced in a while!

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Thanks to this crew for an unforgettable weekend!

I experienced quite a lot of firsts: things that I’ve heard of in the US, even among my family, but never had the guts to try (e.g., drinking fresh spring water or using the forest for a pit stop). Marianna was so proud of me, saying that I would make a great missionary because of my openness to trying new and uncomfortable things. What a wonderful encouragement!

Last week was pretty low key as I worked on some more art and cleaning projects around base. I’ll be sharing those in next week’s update. Then yesterday, as part-tourism, part-early-birthday-celebration, we headed to Sighișoara — hometown of Dracula! I can’t tell you how many texts I received about remembering my garlic, haha. I don’t know much about the tale of Dracula, but it was really neat to see/hear the history of Transylvania and the man who inspired the story. For those who are interested, read more below! If not, feel free to skip to the photos.

Dracula is a story developed by Irishman Bram Stoker. Stoker was reading Romanian history when he came across a man named Vlad Țepeș, or “Vlad the Impaler“. Vlad received this designation because of his brutality in maintaining the justice system while ruler of a part of Transylvania (a region in Central Romania). Vlad reigned three separate times in the 15th century, interwoven with periods of exile and imprisonment. He became internationally famous for his evil and cruel deeds. Over 400 years later, Stoker read about Vlad and then combined his story with ancient Transylvanian superstitions about vampires to develop the well-known tale of today. It wasn’t popular in his Victorian era but grew to fame with film adaptations in the late 20th century.

And there you have it! I survived Sighișoara with no vampire encounters. However, I am still technically living in Transylvania, so we’ll see 😉 In the meantime, enjoy these photos as well!

View of Sighișoara from the clock tower:

Architectural features:

Sights in Sighișoara:

Pictures of us:

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Thanks to my wonderful hosts for showing me around!

Coming up next week: We are doing a lot of prep this week for the arts camp in two weeks. I’ll be making welcome & thank-you cards, cleaning, prepping rooms, and the like. We’re going to be away the following week, so we have to tackle it all now. Things are exciting!

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