Europe | Romania | Brasov – Transylvanian lawnmower man
Sexton and I are sitting on our balcony overlooking mountains and drinking our daily free beer, courtesy of Elvis Villas. Our room is called ‘the shagging room’ but we’re a bit too tired. So tired we’re thinking of ordering pizza to eat right here on our balcony. What a life! I send a text message to that effect, and as predicted, my friend in her office in London is jealous. I try to console her, saying we had a nightmare in Brasov station this morning and it rains so often our laundry never dries. My friend would rather have piles than her workmate though.
Below us, a man in a wooden cart stops in front of the house next door. He tethers his horse to the gate. His cart is full of freshly cut grass. He gets out carrying a scythe and pitch fork; this is the lawnmower man, Transylvania style.
Brasov station was concrete tower block hell and full of taxi touts – no worse than London after a nightclub closes on a Friday night I guess, but the setting itself was incredibly grim. Think Elephant and Castle (South London area where there are no elephants and no castles, only grey high rises) crossed with Port Authority and add a few scraggly pine trees. And a LOT of dodgy looking people trying to ‘help’ anyone wearing a backpack.
We finally found Julian from Elvis hostel and he put us in a cab that would not rip us off. We were barely out of the station when the taxi driver rolled down the passenger window and started chatting – or shouting, rather – with his mates in other taxis while negotiating a busy intersection. He honked his horn like a duck on the rampage and nearly crashed into 2 buses at once. Brasov is big, citylike, with heavy traffic. We were relieved to end up all the way on the old, beautiful (if run down) other side of town. The mountains shoot up all of a sudden; after the flat farmland we passed on the train I started to wonder if we were going the right direction. We are near an amazing Orthodox church with a cemetery and the town sqaure is not far away.
Going to get back to that balcony and pizza now, and rest up for tomorrow’s castle trips. It’ll be our last typical touristy day before we head to the Danube Delta. Romanians tell us the Delta is beautiful but we have yet to meet anyone who has been there. A Brit on the train had a recent guidebook (2001) but when the helpful Elvis staff tried to book us accomocation in Tulcea many of the phone numbers were already dead. So, as I think I said before, after tomorrow who kows when you’ll hear from me again….
(PS we have had many meals other than pizza! In Sighosoara we ate at the poshest restaurant in town, where Prince Charles stayed in May, probably when he was deciding to stop them from cutting 400 ancient trees fo build a Dracula theme park. It is quite strange to be ‘rich’ but here we seem to be. I’ve been to India but for Sexton this is a real eye opener…)