Blog Post #2 of the Series: Robert’s Daughter Travels
When I first started planning my European Adventure I spent hours looking at the map of Europe, and I mean hours! Yet after all that time and carefully selecting the countries I would travel to, Romania wasn’t on the list. But thankfully it was added last minute, and today it stands as one of my favorite countries. I met a fellow traveler in Hungary and together we decided to rent a car and drive through Romania to do the “Transylvania Triangle” and it was one of the best decisions of my trip, and possibly life.
We got into Bucharest, rented a car and headed up the mountains staying in: Brașov, Sighișoara, Sibiu, Bran, and finally Sinaia.
Basov was our first stop, if you see the picture below you will see the letters similar to California’s “Hollywood” letters. It is a beautiful old town and on the first night there my travel companion and I went out for a few drinks (as you do). We stumbled into this underground rustic Romanian bar and were lucky enough to grab the last available table. The bar was packed, large groups of friends gathered around tables and talking over one another (even if I knew fluent Romanian I’d never of been able to decipher their conversations). Halfway into our pints a friendly bearded man approached our table and asked us a question in Romanian to which I responded by smiling and saying “sorry” in English. His eyes lit up and a smile stretch along his bearded face, as he asked us in beautiful English if we would like to play trivia. I look to my travel buddy and back to the friendly Romanian and responded, “we’d love to – but my Romanian is a bit rusty!!” He laughed at my joke and responded sweetly, “Oh we will do it in English for you!”
Here we were an American/English Native and an Aussie playing Romanian Trivia in this hidden bar, and everyone in the room spoke and understood English so well that they were willing to let us join in on the fun. We ended up coming second to last. Not a great victory for the tourist team – but the losers did come join our table and share beers and stories with us. They asked questions about our homes and explained their country and history as well as giving us suggestions of places “off the beaten track” to check out (see picture of Clay Castle below!) They were truly amazing and despite being disappointed they had lost to an Aussie/American duo were completely lovely.
Now what does this story have to do with Romanian money? Well, not too much! I just wanted to share how beautiful Romania was! But there is a smaller story within this one:
During one of the trivia breaks I came back with fresh beers and handed my friend his change. I noticed him slide his fingers over the 1 Leu note “I love plastic money” he said, almost speaking to the note and not to me. “I miss my money. I can’t get used to paper.” (we had been using the Euro a lot) I’d forgotten until that moment that Australia also had polymer notes. I decided to show off my knowledge slightly and name off a list of countries that had beautiful polymer notes, and finally I mentioned to him how special the Lei’s were and that Romania had one of the most (in my opinion) beautiful first polymer notes (the 2.000 Lei). He quickly told me Romania didn’t have the first polymer notes because Australia did.
We sat at our table having our very own trivia debate about polymer notes. I didn’t believe him that Australia had the first, so I decided to call in the expert and text my father. I won’t relay his whole response (it was very long and detailed). However (like in the real trivia we didn’t do too well!) it turned out that we were both wrong, and yet right in our own ways. Needless to say he thought my dad was a genius and right away was very impressed. To burst my father’s bubble, I pointed out that he was in fact, not a genius!
Regardless of our beer-induced polymer debate I showed him a picture of the iconic 2.000 Lei note and explained to him why someone who has seen notes from so many countries absolutely adores the Romanian money. And while Australia has some amazing notes themselves, the Aussie couldn’t help but agree with me that Romania has beautiful currency.
So we both learned that our Romania trivia skills weren’t that great, but that Romanian beer is!
On a serious note, every person I met in this amazing country was so kind, and hospitable. I will never forget what a lovely place Romania is, and hope one day to return, I mean look at that house and this sunset… A beautiful end to my trip, and the last of my 28 countries I visited. Save the best for last.
And in case you were wondering, we didn’t find any vampires! We did however find joy and memories to last for a lifetime.
La revedere Romania, until next time.