Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Bucharest, Romania

Romania is by far the most exotic country we have visited!  And by exotic I mean incredibly interesting!  We never imagined that we'd visit Romania, and by that I just mean that the places to see here in Europe are endless, of all the places in the world, Romania wasn't even on our radar.  Not that I didn't want to visit Romania, I just hadn't thought about it, really.  That's why I'm glad the Universe is in charge of handing out the random opportunities, because if we had never visited Romania we would never have known where to find that missing puzzle piece to our life's journey.   

But do you want to know what made Romania the bestest trip ever?!?  

Eric got a weekend pass and was able to meet us in Bucharest!!

Eric and I aren't used to doing anything separately so it's pretty ironic that we ended up in the Army lifestyle.  We make a great team, without the other life just doesn't work as easily, and these last few weeks have been an adjustment.  As if adjusting to life with a sad heart isn't enough, to make everything more annoying than usual, neither one of us is sleeping.  Getting an opportunity to visit Eric during our months apart was a blessing!!  And probably even essential as both of us were super irritable without sleep.

Isabelle and I had a long day of flying and arrived in Bucharest Thursday evening.  Eric had arranged for a driver to pick us up from the airport and we got our first experience with Romanian traffic.  The driver was a young gentleman who could not have been more adorable if he tried!  He got us to the hotel safely, but Isabelle and I spent the entire 1 hour drive white-knuckling our seat belts, and I tried really hard to figure out the traffic rules (as far as I could tell, there isn't any.  But whoever honks their horn the longest, wins!  Wins what exactly, I'm not sure.).   
Eric was waiting for us in the hotel lobby when we got there and I don't remember if I thanked the adorably dorky but so polite driver.  I didn't see anything or anyone but Eric, and I could feel every cell in my body start to relax the second we were together again.  

We settled into our hotel room and then went to dinner at Excalibur, a medieval restaurant that Eric had found online and thought Isabelle would love.

The Excalibur was an experience- the waiter (equally adorable as the driver) wore a traditional medieval outfit, we were given bibs to wear, the food was served on platters, and no utensils were allowed!  Wait, what?!  No utensils allowed?!  I should explain that I have serious issues with touching my food.  I absolutely can not touch my food, and I won't even get into the number of times I wash my hands in a day.  I use a fork or spoon for almost every thing I eat.  There are a few exceptions- a hard shell taco, chips, popcorn, or a Subway sandwich- but a regular sandwich like a PB&J is eaten with a fork, and if my Subway sandwich or hard shell taco starts to fall apart even a little bit, I start picking it apart with my fork.  Pizza, ribs, burritos, hamburgers, french fries are all eaten with a fork.  If it's greasy, melting, or sticky I won't touch it.  There are times where I have gone hungry because the only option for food has to be eaten with my hands.  Yes, it annoys the sh*t out of my husband, and even my sister, Angie, likes to give me crap about it, but I can't help it.  So when the waiter said no utensils allowed I didn't want to eat anymore.

The salt & pepper didn't even come in a shaker, Eric had to put salt on all my food.

But apparently, knives were used in medieval times so we were given a knife and I used that to stab my food and eat it that way.  If I couldn't stab it I didn't eat it, I didn't care how great it smelled or how hungry I was.  But the food that I could stab was incredible and the entire experience was awesome! 

Thursday had been an incredibly long day for all three of us but especially for Eric.  Because of his work schedule he had been awake for more than 24 hours by the time we had arrived in Bucharest.  After supper I started to worry about him needing sleep- he looked beyond exhausted!  He was at a level of tired that I've never been to and I'm not sure has an official name because most people at that level of exhaustion are usually asleep already, and he looked pale.  He was worrying me.  In my head I am a total bad ass, a very dear friend even told me I was a bad ass a long time ago {he is missed so much}, but I'm pretty sure that in reality I wouldn't be able to lug Eric back to the hotel if he passed out in front of Excalibur, bad ass inner self or not.  So with full belly's we bee-lined it back to the hotel and fell into our beds, and had the best night's sleep in a month!

Bucharest is the largest city in Romania and is the country's cultural center.  Romania is.... so interesting!  First, their royal family is actually from Germany, not Romania.  In the 1800's Romania invited a noble family from Germany who had no chance of inheriting the throne to come and rule Romania.  A lot of their homes around Peles Castle were built to look like homes in Bavaria to remind the King of his home country.  Then, most of the architecture in Bucharest is copied from Paris- not inspired by, copied.  And, it is still rebuilding from it's Communist control so there is a huge mix of sparkling brand new buildings with very sad deteriorated buildings.  I LOVED it!!  It's almost like Romania doesn't have a true identity so because theirs is so mixed, they're open to everyone and everything, and I LOVED that!  Bucharest was by far the most interesting city I have ever been to!

This is Bucharest's Arcul de Triumf which is identical to Paris' but it was under construction so this was all we got to see.

While exploring Bucharest we stopped at the Hard Rock Cafe.  Eric and I got a few drinks and were finally able to catch up on all of the small details of our lives that we usually talk about constantly throughout our day when we are together, but have been missing out on because of our limited ability to talk since Eric has been gone (emails just don't quite cut it when you're trying to explain how a new camera purse is not only cute, but an absolute necessity, or when Isabelle rolled her eyes at me for the 327th time and I flew off the handle).  

I wish y'all could have met my Grandma Sue.  She was incredible!  She had a special and unique relationship with every single one of her grandchildren, and there is not a day that goes by that I don't wish that she was here- there is so much I want to tell her.  My Grandma Sue was an artist who was commissioned to do pieces for college campuses, hotels, churches, etc... all over the world, and while I did not inherit any of her talent, I'd like to think that I did inherit her compassion and appreciation for art in all its forms.  Bucharest was an artists dream and I know that she would have loved it there!  I was in heaven with all of the graffiti, architecture, and people!  So we kept exploring!

The view from our hotel balcony 

Wait a second.... ummmm....what is this?

Seriously though, what the hell is this?!

I got to spend two days in tourist picture taker heaven!  There was just something about the graffiti that I loved!  There are places, like Italy for example, where graffiti looks trashy & terrible, but in Romania it was beautiful & perfectly fitting.

Admit it, when you think of Transylvania (a region of Romania) you think of Dracula.  Or if you're me, you think of the gold medal gymnast Nadia Comaneci.  Or if you're Eric, you think of the creepy evil painting in Ghost Busters 2.  Nothing says "Halloween" like Dracula, blood sucking, or impaling bodies, am I right?  A visit to Bran Castle was a must for our visit to Romania!  First though, a stop at Peles (pronounced Pell-esh) Castle- the summer home of the Romanian royal family!

The Carpathian Mountains! 

Believe it or not, photography was allowed in Peles Castle... but, you had to pay a photo tax.  If you know my husband you know that he would not pay extra for something that he doesn't think is essential.  He figured that since photography wasn't allowed in every other castle we've toured, then we'd survive without pictures of this castle and it's not necessary to pay extra for pictures, even if his wife is giving him a pouty face.  So I don't have any pictures of the interior of the castle to show you guys, but this castle was Eric's favorite!  His favorite of all castles he's ever been to!  It was gorgeous, more gorgeous than any other castle we've seen so far!  It was almost like it was move-in ready, and Eric really wanted to move in.  He loved it!

Next stop, Bran (pronounced Brawn) Castle- the home of Vlad the Impaler- the inspiration for Bram Stoker's Dracula!  I used to love horror movies, but Eric refuses to watch anything remotely scary.  He hates the feeling of being startled, so you will never find him anywhere near a haunted house, let alone in a haunted house, and he won't even look at a scary movie poster or picture.  I think he's adorable about it all, but since he won't watch scary movies with me I've basically stopped watching most anything horror related (except The Walking Dead- I'm obsessed and don't mind watching it alone at all).  I was surprised that Eric even wanted to see Bran Castle at all.

This would have been a way prettier picture if that dude had not gotten in my way the second I put my camera to my face. 

I guess that Vlad the Impaler wasn't all that terrible.  Sure, he impaled the bodies of his enemy's and lined their impaled bodies along the road leading up to his castle, but he did that to send a message that he could not be messed with!  Okay, so yeah, he sounds pretty terrible, especially if you were one of his enemies, but his castle wasn't spooky or anything and photography was even allowed without having to pay a photo tax!  Not that I want to piss off the ghost of Vlad or anything, but I don't think his castle could hold a candle to Peles Castle.  Just sayin....

We didn't have a lot of time at Bran Castle but it was so crowded that I didn't mind and was ready to leave.  For the last part of our tour we stopped at Brasov, a small town near both castles!

The tour guide only gave us 45 minutes to spend there before having to head back to Bucharest, which really wasn't enough time to see much.  He said that it was time to head back because he had gotten a call from his wife who said that it had snowed in Bucharest.  Our tour guide said that because of the snow traffic would be terrible.  I wanted to say: "Terrible?!"  It was "terrible" without snow, so what you really mean is that it's snowing, we're in a bus going back to Bucharest and we're all going to die.  Just be honest, mister.  What should have taken only two hours turned into four.  Eric was just really thankful he didn't have to worry about driving.  When we finally got back to the drop off point the city looked completely different from when we had left that morning.

Our hotel 

 Outside our hotel

It was cold, windy and slippery, but I didn't mind, the weather reminded me of home and was the most amount of winter weather we've seen since we moved to Germany.  It made Bucharest even more beautiful. 

Friday, October 17th, was our 5th wedding anniversary!  We couldn't be together on our actual anniversary but getting to spend it one week later in Bucharest was a very special way to celebrate.  
We kept noticing 5's all over Bucharest- I'm sure they had a significant meaning that had nothing to do with our anniversary, but where's the romance in that?- and they felt like a sign from the Universe that we are exactly where we were supposed to be.  Even though Eric being sent away from home unexpectedly for a few months ruined the plans we had already made, these fives all over the place helped us to feel that we were in the exact right place at the exact right time.  Sometimes when I get frustrated with a situation life has created signs help to remind me how big of a brat I can be, and tell me to love the opportunities we've been given.  

Our five years of marriage, and 8 years of being together, have been incredible- I might not have used that word to describe every single moment, but lump them all together and it's been so much more than incredible. 

So thank you, Bucharest for being so interesting!  And thank you, Universe, for making sure that all the pieces of our journey are perfectly in place and that my lump of memories are amazing!  

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