Having Ignored Rich’s random comment that I could well be asked to join the Romanian shot putting team, we enjoyed our final breakfast of yoghurt and mountain honey at Casa Nicu. Nicu (the lovely administrator, who lives next door) has certainly raised the honey bar – we’re going to find it near impossible to find any as delicious back home.
Neither of us wanted to leave but we knew that further adventures awaited us, and so yet again we braved the roads and headed for Sighisoara. Or rather Rich braved the roads. I didn’t feel able to cope with the loons today.
The old city really is quite magnificent, but this only means that the tour groups come out in force and therefore that the citadel is always heaving. It was also the only place that we were approached by children begging during the entire trip – something I find deeply uncomfortable when you realise that they’re being controlled by adults skulking in the corners.
We stopped off at a cafe for some freshly pressed elderflower juice, and then listened carefully whilst some British tourists complained about their bill having changed, even though they were the ones who’d asked for a new one in euros rather than lei. I don’t mean to sound so negative about coach tours. But come on people. If you’re going to travel, at least embrace the spirit. Such attitudes must drive the locals nuts. At least they would me, if I were a local. But then I can’t cope with the tourists in Ambleside on a busy day, and have to start using my elbows in a defensive way, so we left the fortress walls to find a peaceful lunch spot by a churchyard, and dined on boiled eggs, fried chicken, gherkins and sheep’s cheese. Maybe we were shepherds in a former life?
From Sighisoara we headed for Mugheni and our next stop – Pension Ilyes. As the only guests that night we were made to feel extremely welcome despite my pathetic attempts at speaking Romanian, and them not knowing any English. It’s amazing how far you can get with a good phrase book, travel picture book and mime though. Our room was very clean and cool, and opened out directly onto the courtyard and garden. We even found a new cubby hole to escape from the heat, complete with a hanging baby basket. Sadly there was no baby asleep in it.
There was also a little museum on site – displaying the family’s collection of lace, woolen products, and agricultural wares. Rich as usual started opening doors and investigating nooks and crannies, but they found his curiosity amusing. Most likely because it might have been obvious that I was trying to tell him not to be so nosey, without moving my lips.
After an afternoon nap we retired to the garden swing seat whilst waiting for dinner. I want a rustic swing seat. We’ll need a bigger garden first mind.
I got a little worried about the very skinny dog in the kennel at the bottom of the garden. It looked like he’d not had any fresh water in his bowl since we’d arrived, and seemed desperate to get out. I’m hoping that he was just being kept there whilst they had guests staying, but it does my break my heart when animals are not treated as well as they should be. I hoped that by fussing him they’d see that we were animal lovers and let him out to play and exercise, but sadly no. Am I naive in thinking that animals should be treated with respect no matter where you are in the world?
There’s much more of an emphasis on being self sufficient in Romania. The pension gardens were full of veg and edible flowers. It’s such a shame that more people don’t grow their own here in the UK. As well as being extremely satisfying it can develop nurturing skills in children (and adults), and equip them with the skills they need to help protect our environment. It also saves money, helps save the bees, and leads to an improved diet, so it’s a no brainer as far as I’m concerned.
As this part of Romania defines itself very much as Hungarian, we were presented with a Hungarian feast at dinner. Vegetable soup with polenta dumplings to start – tasted a little like minestrone, but without the noodles, served with a mountain of sourdough bread. This was followed by yet another mountain of mashed potato, with chicken cooked in a tomato and pepper sauce, and a pickled cabbage salad on the side. To drink we were presented first with a bottle of blueberry tuica (think gin, only stronger), then with a sweet white wine. Not surprisingly we didn’t make it up to the local church that night to look at the frescoes!
After dinner we were showed the household’s collection of dried herbs in handcrafted wooden boxes (yes, I did buy one), and after a refreshing glass of mint tea we couped ourselves up in our room. The doors and windows are double glazed as the Winters here are cold – they’re just a few miles from the ski slopes. But in the height of summer it also means that the rooms are kept lovely and cool, making sweet dreams all the more likely.