úterý 23. října 2012

Chilling journey into Dracula's birth place - Sighisoara

Sibiu (Hermannstadt) and Sighisoara(Segersvár) 

I encountered Tautis sitting on the ground leasing back to the wooden padding of improvised Mc Donald terrace at Gara de Nord.  "Salut. Salut." Tautis handed me his Silva blonda can, for welcome. Told him I have 4 more nefiltrata bergen’s in my backpack and sat next to him. "We have 30 minutes delay already, " he told me. That’s exactly why I am coming on time. Not to wait more than its necessary!

"We need to take care of one big problem before we go", looking at electronic ticket for our trip to Cluj. "There is a name of my colleague written down in this document and I am not sure if they will allow you to take his seat. I am scanning the ticket. Adult/ full price stated in the top right corner and obviously Romanian name at the right bottom one. C'mon. Let's ask. I don’t wana fake someone’s identity. I will take care of your “Forest” and you can ask at the information desk for possibility to change ticket owner." Mutual agreement was sealed with two swigs from the can.

After several minutes of argumentation Tautis was back and pretty upset. His stay in Romania is approaching critical value. After almost 5 months the culture shock is kicking back and he feels really strange and uncomfortable, especially in crowded and sterile Bucharest. His mood was always lifted by any kind of trip. I like to travel with him, because Tautis is always up to go anywhere, explore and most importantly self-arrange anything. From the accommodation, through logistics to the entertainment, everything is DIY.

Dim and magical fog, stray car lights in the distance and completely clear sky with amazing crystal view of the stars. Werewolf moon and un-deadly morning chill in the middle of freshly harvested wheat fields. Slow train speed and beats of the trails. All of this makes you think of this as about extra-dimensional, almost spiritual journey. All the lost and tortured souls around, those gathered during your reaper night shift, now dragged back to underworld for Charon to keep them safe. Your ears full of screaming silence and mind stricken with deadly peace. Getting more and more silent… Into a redeeming limbo of postmortem semi-existence. Silence. Just missing scythe in my hand. Almost feeling its handle in my hands… Imagine that someone knocks on your shoulder in such a state of a mind…chills ran through your spine and various images through your head. Turning my head. From the darkness of dimmed coupe an almost faceless voice with long black hair shrouded with whispers asked me “Could you please close the window, I can not sleep because of the cold.”

Minutes of fantasy regression are gone. Last deep breath of fresh early morning autumn air and I am closing the window. Time to follow the crowd… well those two elderly souls… out of the train. 

5:40 Sibiu Gara. train station is pretty lively. People are going to work and some are coming back. Journey is almost at the end. Calling Reema to let her know I am in the town:-) Next two days she is going to be my tour guide. I am sad though that Mari-An is not present and can not spend some time with us. Right now she is probably strolling through some German city and heaving a good time with strangers :-P

Great 2 days I spent in Sibiu - Strolling through the city whole day, making pictures and in the afternoon visiting ASTRA Film festival of documentary movies. Evening was in sign of culture tolerance. German students had made a dinner and Czech with Pakistanis were invited to enjoy their national cuisine. Great event was closed by friendly ping-pong match.

The next day...think it was sunny Sunday... Ken picked me up after checking out  the 15th International Photographic Salon Sibiu 2012 final exhibition in Sibiu's exhibition hall and as promised, we caught bus to the biggest Village Museum in Europe. With other Pakistanis we decided to spend beautiful day in a calm environment around a lake. Funny thing is that in the middle autumn I was able to weave pussy willow whip usually made for the Easter in mid spring.

It is already more than two days but trip to Sighisoara still resonates within me. Apart from the fact that Vlad Tepes called Dracula was born in here, this small medieval town reminds me my hometown Tachov. 10 long months I have not strolled through its alleyways and strong melancholy struck me hard. Autumn in Tachov is one of the most beautiful times. Colorful alleys, sweet smelling air, sharp low angeled sunshine, bright sky and amazing views on the medieval sights all around the town. Nothing better than stroll through the alleyways, neighborhoods and landmarks ended in a teahouse with cup of fresh Darjeeling in your hands.

Reminds me...the time here in Bucharest is slowly ticking off and in less than a week I will be back in Czech Republic. I am glad I could spend one last weekend on a trip with my friends.

Enjoy your time - life is short ;-)

středa 17. října 2012

Peles, Rasnov and Brasov

Road-tripping the East Carpathian beauties

So we decided, even though all odds were against us, to go for a one day trip and try to visit as much as we can. Just before the whole season will be closed an the real autumn/winter begins. In our organizers was Sunday marked as a traveling day. Michal had the car, I had the local language knowledge - little but still and both of us are more than eager to explore and travel.

Morning started terribly early - usually I am waking up at 6:30 to make it on time to work - and around 7:00 we were already in the car driving through silent, gray and wet Bucharest streets. Vaclav, colleague of mine from Czech, testing the games in Bucharest for few weeks, was calling me...yeah I know, we were supposed to be there at 7. And I know how punktlich he is. So I was expecting his call:-) He called just to check up on us and to let us know, he is just checking weather and assuming the rain, he is not coming with us. Bine, no detour for us to pick him up and we can go straight north to the bowls of Transylvania.

Turks were burning brick. Engineers were Polish and the stone carvers were Czech. The Frenchmen were drawing, the Englishmen were measuring, and so was then when you could see hundreds of national costumes and fourteen languages in which they spoke, sang, cursed and quarreled in all dialects and tones, a joyful mix of men

"...Turks were burning brick. Engineers were Polish and the stone carvers were Czech. The Frenchmen were drawing, the Englishmen were measuring, and so was then when you could see hundreds of national costumes and fourteen languages in which they spoke, sang, cursed and quarreled in all dialects and tones, a joyful mix of men..."

Although there was not raining, the weather forecast was not that far from the reality. Weather. com was for once correct...along the way i slipped into the land of dreaming. No problem, when you are in the back seat and just enjoying the ride. Starts to be an issue when you suppose to navigate in the front seat. I really tried hard to stay awake and navigate. HARD. The dreams were stronger than me and clubbed my eyelids to deep state of sleep. When I woke up, Michal was not in his seat. Shock was replaced by surprise when I realized we are not moving. Still half a sleep I was scouting the surroundings...fog, trees, fog, road, trees, a hut, Michal outside the car, trees, fog, fog, never ending fog.

"Sleepy my darling?!" Michal uttered when stepping in. "Sorry man, I hope we are not lost or something. The weather is awful. Would not be surprised if you already turned back to Bucharest." No way, check the map and tell me where to go now. We should be close to Sinaia.

Our goal was to reach Busteni and from there track to Peleš castle, if weather would be nice we wanted to go uphill and use the cable cabin to reach the top. I grabbed our Romanian map in Lonely planet tour guide and finally woke myself up. There was nothing to miss and nowhere to get lost. Simply straight ahead from Bucharesst to Sinaia and Busteni. My plan was to ask someone in there where to head for one of the first European palace with central heating, vacuuming and electricity.

In the end we did not even need to consult the locals to find the palace. Although the rainy weather forced us to stay in car all time, we found a way into a nearby parking lot. No more than 300 meters from the castle is a hotel that offers parking. Entering the road costs approximately 10 Lei/car. But its worth in bad weather. In summer might be great hike up the alley. Last few hundred meters you have to walk, but the view is splendid and definitely worth it.

Peles castle alias palace itself is extremely beautiful and luxurious place I have seen so far. In the Renaissance style built palace to serve as a summer residence for king Carol I. and his wife Elizabeth. More than 400 craftsmen were working for almost 40 years to bring this jewel into the sunlight in all its splendor and magnificence. Although the main architect was Johannes Schultz (1876–1883) on Peles castle also 2 Czech architects left their mark. Karel Beneš(1822-1896) and more significant Karel Liman who designed the palace's towers.

Not only the outside is impressive and full of masterpieces. The Peles castle interior is made from gilded wood, wooden ceilings and paneling along with craftsmen work from all over the Europe. The main wooden work though is made in Austria and Germany. Italian glass, Bohemian crystal and many others decorates this Romanian gem.

Palace has 3 floors and the tour is priced accordingly - 1st floor for 30Lei, 1st+2nd floor for 50Lei and all 3 of them for 70 Lei. We have chosen second option and it turned out to be very good choice. For the second floor we were abandoned alone. Just me and Michal with our tour guide. Lovely lady in her 40 told us many stories and was more than willing to share and answer all our nosy questions. We spend more than 90 minutes on the tour and were pretty saturated for the morning. One quick pizza in Sinaia's restaurant and we were off on the road again.

Rasnov was the next stop. The weather was worse than bad and wee were forced to drive truly slow. Navigation was once again up to me and Michal took the wheel. In less than 2 hours we were already parking in Rasnov main street wondering why they wont let us up the hill to the parking lot.

Considering our gear, we were not prepared for what should come, but about that later...for now we spend 15 minutes walking uphill to realize racing competition is taking place just under the fortress. You could know that only cause of the map. All the surroundings was buried in a cloud an nothing was visible above certain level.

Michal is a gasoline head;-), owns motorbike and likes roar of engines almost as same as smell of burning tyres. So we stopped for a while (almost 30 minutes) to check out the competition.

Even though the weather was still giving us hard time, we were more than glad to hit the road in the morning. Cause these are exactly things we love to travel for. Unexpected events to lift your mood up and enjoying life as it comes. Once again we met Czech made machines and stormed the hill up the fortress we could not see through clouds.

Saxon fortress build in 13th century to guard Romanian lands against Turks and Tartars. Almost fully renovated medieval fortress is perfectly set just behind the mountains to guard lands and passes. Those were unfortunately for us covered in a thick whiteness of clouds.

Time flew like a jet fighter and we need to get down to the town, drink something warm and possibly eat.
On the way down to our car, the weather got even worse. Heavy rain with big rain drops started to fall from the clouds on our heads. Our light garments could not endure such a rainfall and get wet almost instantly. Wet jackets, wet shoes, wet trousers...fortunately our car was close to one of the opened pubs in town. We slipped in ordered a tea and strengthened ourselves for the last part of our journey.

....hmm seems like I already exceeded the traditional span of my articles and your focus also. Long story short. Those who made it in here will get one special tip for Brasov's best restaurant. Should you long for traditional Romanian meal in a cosy /romantic environment visit Bella Musica. Traditional ciorba de fasole served in bread is for decent 15 Lei. Other meals could be slightly more pricey though worth the service.

More pictures can be found on Picasa.

pondělí 8. října 2012

Steaua Bucuresti vs CFR Cluj - Sunday in Bucharest

Vesnické Muzeum - skanzen a rumunská liga naživo

Rumuni trpí utkvělou představou, že ve stoje dohlédnou dále než ze sedu. Alespoň jejich chování při fotbalovém zápase tomu napovídá. Kdykoliv se odehrávala akce u branky soupeře, řada před námi se hodila do pozoru a napínala kukadla jak to jen šlo. Zápas se tedy také nesl na vlně tréninku "Vztyk / Sednout". Měl jsem pocit, jakoby klukům podvědomě scházela vojna a tak si jí společně s celým regimentem simulují na zápasech šťávy v National aréně.

Stadion je opravdu monstrózní stavba. Dominuje Východní části Bukurešti asi stejně jako vzdálenější asijská tržnice Dragon mall. Moderní ocelobetonová stavba je svou typickou architekturou přirovnáván k podobným stavbám v Německu a Anglii. Jen ty nálady na jeho stavbu byly o 30% vyšší. Což je s podivem, když uvážíme, že veškeré západní firmy sem přesouvají či outsourcují svá centra péče o zákazníky (Alespoň ty, co neobjevily kouzlo JV asijských pracantů na Filipínách a Indonésii.) aby ušetřily.

Zatímco my jsme nacvičovali gumárenské povely, tak na hřišti se odehrávala bitva...oh, pardon, šťouchaná...o to kdo si domů odvaze, respektive neodveze, 3 body za výhru. Vždycky mi bylo jako fotbalové lamě vysvětlováno, že fotbal se hraje tak, že všichni běhají za míčem a snaží se do něj kopnout dost přesně na to, aby doletěl do brány. Tím se získá bod. Kdo má víc bodů, vyhrál. Jednoduchý jako facka...jj jsou tu ještě nějaký vychytávky jako ofsajd a penalta, fauly a barevný kartičky. Upřímně mi fotbal přijde celý dost o barvičkách (to už je ale zase jiná písnička). Takže, zatímco my nacvičujeme povely vztyk a sednout, tak se na trávníku místo běhání neustále objevuje ten samý obrázek ležícího hráče, držícího se za nohu, hlavu nebo jinou část těla a skučící jak meluzína. Bábofky do sebe tak vehementně šťouchali, že se jim během jedné minuty podařilo upadnout 4 krát. Až jsem měl pocit, že se fotbal přece jen hraje trochu jinak. Trochu víc kontaktně a především...kdo spadne vícekrát vyhrál nebo ještě lépe, kdo nasbírá nejvíce barevných kartiček, tak vyhrál. Pán rozdávající ty pěkně barevné kartičky, pan Rozhodčí je pí...ehh...kapitola sama o sobě. Velikost penisu si kompenzuje vizuálně působivým rozdáváním barevných kartiček. Pěkně ať to všichni vidí, jaký já jsem kabrňák. Ale nás neošálí, jeho nízké sebevědomí se projevovalo absolutní neschopností zapískat na píšťalku s dostatečnou rozhodností a hlasitostí. pořádek na trávě tak ležel na bedrech čárových a hráči prakticky neustále rozehrávali bez jeho posvěcení.  Třeba to bylo jenom tím kotlem vpravo od nás, že jsem to hvízdání neslyšel...ale třeba taky ne. Každopádně ceny akademie bych za letošní rok rozdal do Rumunska aspoň 3.

Zápas skončil 1:0 pro Steau (Hvězdu) a kluci si to pořádně vybojovali. Na konci už chyběly síly na pořádný útok a posledních 5 minut byla fraška, ale celý zápas měla Bukurešť navrch a vítězství si zasloužila. Nutno dodat, že bez vydatné podpory tvrdého jádra skalních fanoušků (čti hooligans) by to byla bitva mnohem těžší.

Co se týče zbytku dne, tak ten jsem strávil částečně v Harastrau park s Lukaszem a jeho dcerou Májou a částečně ve Vesnickém Muzeu. Jedná se o komplex 200 budov dovezených do Bukurešti a umístěných hned vedle parku. Většina z nich dokládá původní způsob života na vesnici v průběhu 18. a 19. století v Rumunsku. Veškeré stavby byli dovezeny z nejrůznějších částí republiky a uspořádány tak, že tvoří samostatnou malou vesnici uprostřed města. Za vstup jako dospělí zaplatíte 10 Lei, jako důchodci a postižení 5 Lei a jako studenti dokonce jen 2,5 Lei. Můžete tam strávit kolik času chcete a dokonce si od místních koupit nějakou malou drobnost na památku. V celé vesničce už nikdo nežije a narazíte tu jen na personál a ostrahu společně s jednou malou kavárnou. Vše je vyvedeno tak aby to nerušilo ráz celého projektu a i ty koše na odpadky jsou opravdu z proutí. Malou specialitou je, že v celém asreálu je zakázáno kouřit a požívat alkoholické nápoje. To první je celkem logickým závěrem, vzhledem k tomu, že 90 % vesnice je ze dřeva a slámy. To druhé je pak poměrně efektivní opatření, jež drží zpátky velkoměstské bezdomovce co by měli choutky zasquotovat  tu na delší než nezbytně nutný čas k prohlídce.

Málem bych zapomněl. Když jsem si šel po ránu zaběhat, podařilo se mi najít docela pěkný bleší trh. Je hned před Carol parkem a dají se tam koupit nejrůznější antikvární skvosty. Od obrazů a stříbrných příborů, přes zapalovače, náramky a zrcátka až po 8mm kamery a fotoaparáty značky LEICA.