About Last Night

Last night I kept waking to the annoying hum of a mosquito in my ear. Despite multiple attempts of whacking myself in the head, I failed to slay the beast. In the light of day, six mosquitoes showed clearly against the walls and ceiling of my room. I killed them all, and cleaned my blood from the walls.

Deva-bound, I headed out at 9:20, later than planned, but delayed by justifiable homicide. I planned on visiting the castle in Deva, and would see how I felt afterwards to decide upon the rest of the day, with the expectation of a moderately short day. 5 km outside of Deva, I passed one of the brown tourist signs for Castle Corvin, 14 km after a left turn. Sounding familiar, I pulled out my map; I had flagged that location with a “*”, but had written that site off the night before as too far.

Examining the map, the 14 km lead directly up into the Carpathians. No other route existed to lead anywhere I wanted to go. A 28 km trek, 50% of which would be back from whence I came. I planned for a shorter day, and adding 28 km changed that to clearly not short. An Internet article spoke of Corvin being hard to reach, and out of the way, so likely fewer tourists, and one of the seven wonders of Romania.

I’m likely never coming back to Romaina. I like Romania quite a lot; the people are friendly, roads are good, historical things abound, but far too many places exist in the world I’ve never been to. I would be trading 28 km for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

After I turned left I expected to climb. As the kilometers passed by, I expected I would climb at lot. Unexpectedly, the road stayed flat. Unfortunately, the castle also fell flat. A hodgepodge collection of changes from the 15th-19th century, and fallen into such disrepair that those performing the renovations revised everything they could to make the castle “Gothic”. Tourists roamed everywhere, packing into the available space, and herded around in virtual gerbil tubes from one point to another.

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Four hours later I found myself back on the road to Deva. Looking up from the main road into town, the castle rose directly ahead.

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I planned on staying in a hostel in town. The web tool showed the hostel fully occupied, but I figured I would stop by and ask, and perhaps they’d have another recommendation. I’m certain I found the right place, but no hostel. Giving up on that, after more fumbling about in town, after considering cycling to the top, I found yet another tram to take me to the top of the mountain (good thing too, I learned the road no longer provides access).

Deva Castle was disappointing in a different way than Corvin. It too had fallen into ruin, and it too has fallen victim to the urge to renovate and make money. Right now the castle looks like a cross between a construction site and an archaeological dig. Wooden walkways, seemingly put together by amateurs and barely held together, lead up to the top, where the plans to build a new castle on top of the ruin are glaringly evident. The do have an interesting take on how to prevent tourists from climbing about on the castle.

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I left Deva Castle at the awkward time of 4 pm, earlier than I wanted to stop, and all accommodation I could find cost more than I wanted to spend. I decided to head out of town,  planning to stop at one of the surviving hotels along the older highway. Sooner after I left Deva, traffic suddenly multiplied without any real cause. I passed road construction and realized I had outrun the super highway. Clearly I’m changing my route tomorrow!

The first pensiune cost more than I’d prefer, the second hotel occupied, but the third time is the charm, and I’m spending the night in a lovely pensiune somewhere in the middle of nowhere. The hosts insisted on offering me a glass of genuine authentic Romanian whiskey. I rarely drink but, you know, calories.

Barring the necessary return to Brasov, I’m about two days from the Romanian/Hungarian border, and had hopes of not exchanging more money. Calculations a couple of days ago indicated a good chance I could leave Romania just under what I exchanged the day I arrived (plus exchanging all of my Bulgarian money with Hayden). After paying for the pensiune, I’m down to about 92 leu (less than $25), enough for groceries tomorrow, but not a place to stay, and below a safe functional level in a country with a cash economy (less so than Bulgaria at least). I’m more than a day out of Arad, the next big city, so unless I can find an ATM before then (not guaranteed by any stretch) I’m camping in a field tomorrow.

When completing my original tour from England to Italy, I ran completely out of cash. I left home with a specific amount, and while I had my father’s credit card as an emergency backup, I didn’t have any other funds. I had an open-ended ticket for my flight home, and cycled into the airport to set the date. I spent the night in a campground the night before, but the change was for the next day, and I was completely out of funds. When I returned to the campground in order to pack up and  camp in a field the night before the flight, the camp hosts informed me that the two cyclists I had met the night before paid for the night so I didn’t have to leave.

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