Stray dogs of Bucharest to the glittering heights of Brasov

Romania Travel Blog

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Sitting slightly drunken in Vienna with new friends we were looking at a travel destination before our exchange semester started. "Hey, there cheap flights to Romania" was all we needed to hear to jump on board this trip. The next day, in a sober state, we realised just what we had all got ourself into with readings of 200,000 stray dogs and constant pickpocketings. Ten of us booked into this short pre-semester trip with eight Americans, one Canadian, and me, the sole Aussie.

An early morning flight saw us taking two expansive taxis to the airport. The entire flight was full of talk about the stray dogs with us believing that it was just a myth. There would be no way a country could allow that many dogs to control the capital. As we arrived and exited the airport, there right in front of us on the grass were four stray dogs sleeping. We took the wrong bus and went the opposite direction to the city centre finishing out in the slums where there were even more stray dogs and broken down houses. Luckily Romanian people are generally nice and speak English so a guy told us how to get back to the city. Once we got in the city it took us about three hours to find our hostel, Butterfly Villa, because we had ten people giving ten different directions. My travel tip is to never let Americans take control of the map, leave it to the Canadian wearing a Rasta hat. A guy we met walked us all the way to our hostel and we offered him some beer but he declined. Once we found the hostel we had an entire room to ourselves which was good. We also had our own balcony. We went touring around the city already losing a few members of the group. Bucharest is the strangest city with despair being shown in some parts but beauty in the other. Monuments mark the revolution but the remnants of the Soviet rule are still there for all to see. We walked the streets with the constant fear of a dog attack with some dogs watching our every move. Broken down cars line the streets making parking almost impossible. Cars drive with no fear with us seeing a police car crash in our first hour. That night we were all feeling the effects of the early start and three hours of being lost so we had a meal near our hostel then took some drinks back to the Butterfly Villa for a night in.

The following day we woke up early and enjoyed the Butterfly Villa's breakfast spread and got some tips on the sights of Bucharest. We just ended up walking around, still being followed by dogs, and made our way to parliament which is apparantly the worlds second largest building. It was about that time that hunger hit the group and now the eternal search came for Bucharest's finest restaraunt. Then before us sat 'Business World Restaraunt' where we enjoyed a fine meal shying away from the Crap listed on the menu. Afterlunch we decided to grab some beers with a slightly dirty Romanian man describing the benefits of the soccer ball beer in the two litre bottle. The same man was later seen sprinting out of the shop with a couple of beers under his wing. After doing some recruiting work for Butterfly Villa we took our new English friends and a Mexican guy (who earlier had been treated for a dog bite) to the highly recommended Club Fire. Walking into the club with nobody else being there was a shock but the cheap Ursus beer soon gave us our dancing shoes and gave Michael urges to smash bottles. The night ended with us all being slightly sloshed and deciding to walk home. The girls and Matt took taxis home and Bryan and Ben were keen on the Casino. Singing, dancing, and play-fighting in the streets soon brought us the attention of the non-English speaking police. They asked for our IDs and Michael decided to do a runner. After a few tense moments the police shook our hands and set us on our way. With no sign of Michael we pushed on home losing Ben and Bryan to the casino. We made it back to Butterfly Villa expecting to see Michael but he wasn't home yet. This is where we started to get worried as we were suspecting the dogs had taken him and were going to raise him as one of their own. Ben then entered with us asking if he had seen Michael and he answered with, "No, haven't seen him but I won a heap of money but Bryan is missing". Now the panic really set in with us fearing two of our group members were now being raised as dog-boys. Hours later they enter Butterfly Villa together with a great story of Michael walking to the slums and realising it was the wrong direction then on the way back he met Bryan, who was now heading for the slums, and they hugged (possibly kissed) and walked home arm in arm.

Day three of our Romanian trip then saw the group being split with Ben, Bryan, Ali, and Matt having to go back to Vienna and the rest of us heading to Brasov. A scenic train ride through snow-capped mountains then brought us to Brasov which is a smaller city with a medieval feel. A lady from our hostel, the Rolling Stone, met us at the train station and then warned us about the crime in the train station. We took a bus that got us right into the old town and we found our hostel with some help from some other Aussie tourists. After checking in we walked around the Old Town which was such a contrast to Bucharest. The paved streets and the clean shopping area made this mountain set city amazing. That night we met some other people from the hostel and went for a big dinner which was a lot of fun. We got our free beer from the hostel and booked in for the Bear Watching tour. We piled into a van and we were expecting to go deep into the mountains to hunt the bears. It turned out the bears were supposed to be in a suburban area near a rubbish dump. After the dissapointment of not seeing a bear we received a refund but the trip was great due to the beer and jokes.

Our final day of the Romanian adventure saw us climb Mount Brasov with the Hollywood inspired Brasov sign at the top of the mountain. The trail was covered with ice making it a difficult walk. The boys decided to forget the trail and just run up the side of the mountain but i hung back to help the girls. After the girls started to piss in the woods i left them behind and ran all the way along the trail meeting the boys at the top for some lunch. We ventured back and walked through someones back yard with old Romanian ladies yelling at us. It then became time to leave and make the long journey back to Vienna. We took the train back to Bucharest and then managed to get lost on the same bus as day one. But it all ended well and we flew back into Vienna exhausted and craving a kebab. Especially Cal.

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