Tag Archives: travel

Transylvania

In November I had the chance to travel to Transylvania – to Erdely, as we Hungarians name that old land. In fact Erdely is bigger than Transylvania, it includes 16 counties and various territories. See: Transylvania – Erdély

It was my dream long since to visit that land. It is like a wonderland with pictouresque montain sites and great woods. 

I have a good friend living there and I went to see her at her home, she lives in a village near Szekelyudvarhely (Odorheiu Secuiesc) in Hargita county. She waited me there, at a place called triangle near the main square, as I came with an airport transport called Vandor Szekely (Wanderer Sekler) from Marosvasarhely  Airport (Tirgu Mures). 

It was Friday afternoon when I arrived and stayed at her place for two days. Saturday we had a trip around the near landscapes and at Sunday we traveled back to Budapest together, with airplane charter. She is working at Budapest or Vienna mostly, but stays home for a few months whenever she can.

small river with yellowish sand near Homorod
wild forest

The Transylvanian lands are famed lately for the high number of bears coming near the populated areas, even walking into gardens of family houses. Normally there is no big disruption, as people are used to their presence. But the number of encounters are rising and that’s alarming. There is a ban of hunting as much as I know, and unfortunately, the forests are no more connected due to wood exploitation. The younger bears don’t easily find a new territory for themselves, so the conflict between humans and animals is imminent. During the days I’ve spent in Erdely two incidents were reported about bear attacks, one was lethal. It happened near Marosvasarhely, the victim was a sheperd guarding a herd of sheep.

The population of the Partium, Banat and Hargita county kept to be Hungarian in identity as they are mostly Seklers, even with the numerous repopulation after that the Romanian state was created. Over the North-Eastern corner of the Carpathian curve is Csango land (Chango, they too speak Hungarian). Chango people are considered as the oldest folks in the area – or maybe in whole Europe, with identical cultural traits and astonishing musical legacy. Northern from their place one can find Moldova on the map, where many people they still have their traditional Hungarian language, enrichened with their own, curious sounding words. Those folks are keen to preserve their unique culture which is sometimes quite hard. 

magical Csango song

What I particularly liked here were the breath-taking landscapes and the typical carved Sekler gates.  Though life is not any easy here for Seklers, as Romanians don’t accept their having an independent identity or any claim of a higher independence level (see the autonomy movement). Under Ceausescu these people suffered a lot from the poverty, the discrimination and the oppression. Well, I guess whole Romania suffered…

All with this, knowing some history I dare to state that these tough, obstinate mountain people are made to survive. Even in the times when Erdely was part  of the Hungarian Kingdom they enjoyed some independence. They proved to be really talented in staying alive among all the hardships, yet, Erdely was considered a wealthy land. I wish they could have a better and easier life today, they’d deserve it.

Sekler gate with special carvings
beautiful landscape with the typical stepped hillside
the Hargita mountains’ line of the South-Eastern Carpathians in the far

Unusual and lovely warm sunshine greeted us on all the three days, it was like a blessing. Together we traveled through Parajd, famous for its gigantic salt mine, and Korond, a place famous for high-quality ceramics. We haven’t met a single bear, though my mom asked about them when I called her in the evening. We ate a lot, my friend proved to be a generous host, cooking real good meals for me. All was vegan! Well, she’s vegan too.

our abundant breakfast

The third day we took a ride with the already known Vandor Szekely airport transfer to Tirgu Mures aka Marosvasarhely. At the airport, after a scrutinous and somewhat unfriendly examination we were to wait for our depart. There was a small shop of souvenirs but we couldn’t find up anything with Hungarian text, like “Welcome from Seklerland”, only Romanian stuff. This is quite typical, my friend explained. Romanians have the tendency to make Hungarians feel unwelcome, and the same is true about Seklers or other ethnic groups in the country. I don’t know if this will change, but that would be great. I photoed some of the items in the shop: 

Drakulas were everywhere, here some wine for the thirsty
national folk items, magnets and toys with Romanian flags

Altogether I enjoyed the journey and I feel honoured to be able to go to Erdely, to feel its mystical air and see those ancient mountains with my own eyes. It was like a dream come true, I burst into smiling anytime it comes in my mind. I brought with myself the silent wish&hope that life will improve for the people living there, and for all people in the world.

Plan: visit Munich

The dream

It’s been my dream years and years ago, to visit some of the places where I was living in the past. Often, I mean almost every week I travel home by train. At the train station I keep seeing the railjet that goes to Wien, to Salzburg and München. It arrives and leaves the platform 15 only minutes before my train. As it stops, I keep glancing at it, the boards and the digital notice on the electric doors which displays: München Hbf. In a past life, between 1893-1937 I was living there almost for a whole lifetime. I always wondered, what would it be like to hop on that railjet and take off.

Would I feel happy about getting there? Again? In a new body – under a new name? Would I find the streets familiar? What would it be like treading the same streets with my ‘new’ feet? Would I be able to find my old home? And, how would I feel about it, if I did? May the old houses still stand or have they been perished in the war? Or maybe the areas were rebuilt differently? Is it possible that somebody from my family still lives around there? So many questions…

Normally I have no time for random travelling, nor enough spared money. But, since a few months I have a new job with a tiny bit bigger salary. In January I thought I deserve a travel for fun and this year I WILL go to Munich to check the place.

Planning

I would be the happiest to go there with Nicholaus, perhaps. Walking around the places we’ve once visited while we were so deep in love would be wonderful. But, despite of how I hoped he’s still asleep, far from true wakening. Sad sigh comes here… Anyway, I won’t throw away the idea because of him, I thought.

I offered it to my mom that she could come with me – she was my daughter there. She was interested – or maybe just polite – at the beginning. Later she started backing, saying she doesn’t like traveling. True, she’s not a tourist person, she prefers to stay home in peace. That’s more relaxing for her than visiting a bunch of foreign places. Well, I can perfectly understand her point.
Then I offered the chance to my dad. He was my first son in that incarnation and we did not have a cloudless relationship – also not even in our present life. He said yes, and I can say he’s quite excited about the journey. I told him, I know I wasn’t a good mother for him, so let me make it up a bit, and we can make this trip together. He agreed. Then this was settled.
The plans are quite complete, hotels booked, tickets bought, shoes at the ready. Our past home is located with a fairly good accuracy. I am thrilled and also a bit scared to see it again – to be there again. I also want to take a walk at a few places where I was promenading a lot with Nicholaus and my sons: the Hofgarten, the Englischer Garten, and the city centre, near the Justizpalast – my dad had his house around that area. Maybe we can check one of the cemeteries too. Pity I can’t remember our family name, not yet.

I’ll take candles for meditation and maybe I’ll leave a few flowers or candles at our ex-home. I’ll see…

Full of surprises

I traveled to Germany for two-week’s training, and the thought of it seemed quite long – and once I was there, I realized it certainly was a long time to be away. After the problematic journey I wrote about in my last post, I met my friendly host, Paul, and we were able to visit many places in a single day! That’s what I’d like to tell you about today.

To start with, the weather wasn’t at all friendly. It rained for most of the day and it was evening before the sun peeked out from behind the clouds. Paul and I met at 10 am and went to Dusseldorf Airport to ask after my lost mobile. Our first destination? A mining crater!

Once we’d explored the crater and admired the dozens of wind turbines, we started towards Aachen, to see the Cathedral and find lunch. Our meal at Lennet & Kann ( a vegan place) was delicious! We had warm chilli beans, and I ordered a quinoa salad with avocado and spinach. The chilli was quite good and mild, not too spicy. The salad, though delicious, was gigantic, and I couldn’t finish it on my own. Luckily, I had Paul to help me out.

After lunch, with umbrellas in hand, we walked up to the dome and found it already full of tourists.

I resisted recounting the history to Paul about Charles the Great and his sons, who regularly devastated Pannonian lands, knowing that here the great German Kaisers are a source of pride. After whiling away some time at the Cathedral, we walked around the city, seeing a thermal bath, a piece of an excavated site, some university buildings and a wishing well. I didn’t miss the chance, of course, to throw a coin in… Once we’d finished, I bought a few bottles of mineral water for the journey and went back to the car.

Our next stop was a place called Dreilandereck: the single point where Germany, the Netherlands, and Belgium meet. It was still pouring rain when we arrived, but overall the visit was fun and, afterwards, we paused for coffee on the Belgium side before heading off to see the Cathedral (Dome) in Köln (Cologne).

It took an hour to get there, the rain still falling heavily, and once we arrived, we could hardly find parking place. Finally, we found one, but it was quite far from the Cathedral. We meandered through the small, crowded streets full of shops until we found the dome. As in Aachen, when we checked in, the dome was full of tourists. There was a place in the inner corner where, for one Euro, visitors could purchase a candle and light it for a specific purpose or person. I bought one, ignited it, and placed it among the others while wishing that my Protector Project would all go well!

By this time, though it was only 6 pm, I was already tired and had no desire to sightsee anymore, so Paul drove us back to Essen, where I’m now writing to you from a neat hotel.

All in all, it was an eventful day, and I’m really grateful that I could see all these wonderful places!

*All pics are used as examples; none of them are mine. (Without my mobile I can’t take photos!)

Departure & Arrival

A few months ago, I had a stray thought that I would like to work at a company where I am able to travel as part of my work. Now, I’m working for a company that is paying me to travel, but I find that it’s not quite what I expected.

My flight was delayed several times because of the bad weather conditions which made my arrival chaotic and totally stressful. The whole week prior to my departure, we had extremely hot weather and on Sunday (the 6th of August) a thunderstorm arrived with threatening black clouds right as my flight was due to depart. Originally, we were to take off at 20:25, then I was notified that we would be delayed until 21:10, and then another delay pushed us back to 21:45.

Around ten o’clock, the gate opened and we were finally taken to the plane. We got out of the airport bus with rain pounding down on us and lightning flashing all around – it was frightening! By the time we were on the plane, we were soaking wet and we took our seats only to wait another forty minutes before the captain announced we would be delayed even longer as we had no kerosene. Honestly, I had half a mind to stand up and leave, and later I would regret having not done just that.

Finally, around 23:40 the plane took off into the storm surrounded by lightning and heavy rain. Needless to say, I became quite sick, and to add to my displeasure, the captain then announced that we would be unable to fly to our destination – Dusseldorf – as we were denied permission to land! We were rerouted and, in the middle of the night, eventually landed in Koln/Bonn. After we arrived, there was so much confusion that I couldn’t find my luggage and when I finally found someone to help me, I noticed that I had lost my mobile (in Germany, they call it a ‘Handy’). To make matters worse, I missed the charter bus to Dusseldorf.

The whole process was utterly disorganised and it seemed as though the airline completely disregarded what would happen to their passengers after they were dropped in a strange city – a city that wasn’t even their destination – in the middle of the night.

I spent the whole night tired and stranded in the airport, unable to communicate with anyone or use the Internet, and it was all I could do not to panic and start to cry. A man who worked at a bakery tried to help me by giving me directions so I ran to and fro trying to find a way – a train or taxi or anything – to get to Essen, where I had a booked hotelroom. The man in the information booth was very friendly (he was the one helping me to find my baggage) and explained that the Baggage Office opened at 6 am, and suggested that I wait and ask them whether they knew anything about my mobile in case the airplane staff had passed it down as a found object. I decided to follow his advice and, in the meantime, I was able to connect to the free WiFi and send messages to my family about what happened. I had nothing to eat except a little salty snack and a coffee in a small food shop to while away the time.

After sunrise, I went to the Lost and Found office, but they couldn’t tell me anything about my phone, only repeating that they were not responsible and I should come back the next day. How on Earth could I have come back? They were absolutely unhelpful, and by that point it was around 7 am and I was walking around in the terminal, still trying to figure out what should I do. It was then that I noticed a booth with a flag that said Flixbus. As I went closer and checked, I saw it offered journeys to multiple cities, so I asked them if they offered any trips to Essen. For the first time since I’d left my home, I was in luck – they had one! The ride was good, the bus was comfortable, and the staff were nice and helpful. I started to feel somewhat better now that things seemed to be improving. At 8:10 am I started my ride to my hotel in Essen.

The whole journey was an awful experience. Afterward, I interrogated the airline, the Koln/Bonn Airport, and the Dusseldorf Airport (as the plane belongs there). I called several departments, call centers, and wrote dozens of emails, posted Facebook messages on the airline’s and the airports’ profile pages, telling them about my problem. I am grateful that there were at least a few employees who read them and cared enough to look after me – though they were rare. I still haven’t given up, and I hope that someone kind-hearted finds my mobile and sends it back to me.

*All pics are used as examples, none of them are mine (I can’t take pictures without my mobile).