23rd-26th June 2017
Arriving in Romania for what was meant to be my final weekend of party before I make it to France for school next week but, although in much higher spirits, still with a need for sleep. Thankfully, the hostel is one of the most chilled spaces I’ve seen in all my travels. Just sit, relax and spot the latest meme up on the wall to put a smile on your face. Or notice the record disk that being used as a light fixture. Or simply wait for the resident dog, Bronco, to appear before you and make his 50/50 decision of whether this will be a love or a hate moment. There’s no in-between and there’s certainly something to be said for his decisiveness. Never have I been in admiration of a decisive dog before.
Everyone here is feeling the vibe too. You can sit out on the boards-come-bench, pick up an instrument and play a tune or just admire the furniture’s legs (that’s the Instagram caption which should’ve been!).
With a few Palinkas down me, sleep comes easy. Even if drinking the stuff doesn’t. Still, it’s fermented plums and not a whole lot else, so at least this local moonshine is pure.
The next day I’m renting a bike from the hostel and scooting around town. The sights are pretty cool, if not particularly far from each other to warrant the bicycle but the exercise is good and the wind refreshing in this heat.
As soon as I take a seat to enjoy a £1 olive cheese sandwich from the bakery I am accompanied by a lovely man named Basil. It doesn’t take a moment to realise that Basil is homeless and trying to create a connection to lighten my wallet by a couple of lei. Basil’s also a gentleman though, I must give him that, a lovely person to talk to and an elegant conversationalist. There is a lot I can learn from this man. He recounts his life’s story, that of his kids, his travels, his successes and his failures and had I not a million things I wanted to see and do I would have gladly offered to take him to a coffee shop to continue the conversation.
Wanting to give him something for his time, even if it was forced upon me, I find myself unsure of how to approach the manner as I say goodbye. I needn’t worry as Basil happily approaches the subject for me in quite a lovely way. I happily give him a couple of loose lei and we part ways.
Later that night, ironically, myself and an Irish guy pop to the supermarket. I stock up on sweet, sweet cherries (literally the best I’ve ever had) and get a few drinks and food to sustain me. As I approach the till she asks for the 38 lei required, which I consider a bargain for the basket of goods I receive in return. As I fish through all the notes, I come to 36 lei. You’ve got to be kidding me. Maybe this is karma for having only given Basil a pittance when his company was worth a whole lot more Maybe it’s just a silly coincidence. Either or, I can’t help but smile. In a turn of luck, just as I’m returning one of the items to bring the total down, the lovely Irish man appears behind me and fills the 2 lei void for me to which I can repay a bit later on. Happy days, after all!
Bittersweet, with only a night or so left I decide I need to at least bring myself to going out. Thankfully, with an Australian, a Frenchman and another brit I couldn’t be in better company. A couple of shots, drinks and a pointless Uber going to town and then back to the river we end up in La Capitale, a great little beach-esque party with a DJ by the river.
Finally, on the walk back we spot the same car the Brit had told us about and we all can’t help but take a photo ourselves. It has become a tourist destination in its own right and deserves to be on the map for its artistic use of language. Judge for yourself.