Tag Archives: Cluj

Romania Trip

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On Monday, October 28th, we here in Ireland celebrated a bank holiday which meant no school for me on Monday OR Tuesday. Taking advantage of a solid week of no classes I hopped on a plane last Thursday night and headed to Romania. Lore and Teo had invited me a little while ago to be their son Andrei’s god mother and I initially thought I wasn’t going to be able to find a free time in my schedule that would be able to work for all of us until I found out about this holiday. I skyped with Lore and they were okay with the idea of having the christening on the 27th of October so I could attend as well.

After spending the night in London by Denisa’s I arrived to Cluj around 1:30pm local time where I found Teo waiting for me. We headed straight for Singeorz-Bai and after a quick pitstop in Bistrita, arrived to Lore and Teo’s apartment around 4pm.  After hanging out for a little bit, catching up, and snuggling the baby, Lore and I got read to head to the Freshman Ball that was taking place that night.  We arrived shortly after the competition had started and after being greeted and hugged by every former student and friend that we passed while walking in, we finally made it to our seats. We spent the rest of the night  hanging out with the professors and students and catching up with friends that I hadn’t seen in several months.

Most of my day Saturday was spent at the some sort of cafe drinking tea, coffee, lemonade, you name it. I spent the greater part of the day hanging out and catching up with friends and even got to see some of them that came home from college for the weekend. Sunday morning we all woke  up and imediately started getting ready for the christening. At about 11am, all of Lore and Teo’s family started arriving into the small apartment. A little after noon we all headed towards the church for the wonderful event of turning little Andrei into an Orthodox Christian. The christening in and of itself was fairly short, about half an hour and was very similar to what a Serbian Orthodox christening is like. Following the church we all headed across the street to the restaurant where we had our meal ready and waiting for us.

Monday I spent the greater part of the morning and early afternoon at school disrupting classes and substituting for a sick teacher. I visited every class that I taught last year and made it a point to hang out a little more with the 12th graders. After school, I headed out to lunch with my friend Paul where we finally got to have a nice conversation and catch up in private and not be bothered by random loud music like we were at the ball. Monday night Vasi and Dana invited us over to their house for dinner where we spent most of the evening eating, drinking, and just having a great time. These random little get togethers that I had throughout my visit only amplified the amount I miss Romania and Singeorz-Bai.

Tuesday was my last day in Romania as well as my travel day in Cluj. Lore insisted that they would drive me to Cluj we so bundled up the little one and headed out on Andrei’s first road trip. They dropped me off in Cluj around 4pm where I headed off to my hostel to settle in. Shortly after I called up Ioana and headed over to her apartment to meet up with her and her roommates (all my former students). That night I took Ioana, Popishor, and Tudor out to dinner at none other than Klausen Burger. It was what I consider the best restaurant in Romania with the best beer as well.

This trip could not have come at a better time. Before Romania I was beyond stressed out with school work and there didn’t seem to be an end in sight. As soon as I landed, all my problems faded and I barely thought about school during the week I was there. I enjoyed chatting and catching up with everyone even though there are still many people that I wish I could have seen. I’m back in Ireland ready to face the second half of the semester. I just turned in one major paper and have 5 more to write by the time the semester is over. Hopefully I can manage my time well enough to get it all done and leave for my Christmas vacation back home in 6 weeks.

 

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Rompin in Romania

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This past weekend I met up with a group of my fellow PCVs to cheer on 4 members from our group in the Cluj Marathon. They ran as a team so each runner took one leg which was 10k. We had a great time at the race and were very proud of our team “Rompin in Romania” when the last runner crossed the finish line with a total time of 4:17. We followed it up by divulging in none other than American style hamburgers, fries, onion rings, and liter sized beers at a local brewery.

This was the last time that I am going to see several of my closest friends in Romania which means that my waterworks were flowing quite hard. It was difficult saying bye to these people that I have such a bond with and that are the only ones that know exactly what I have been through during my service. I was even emotional most of the 4 hour ride back to site just thinking of how much has happened in the past two years and some of the crazy memories that we have made. I know that I will consider every person from my group as a lifelong friend. I’m also very jealous that many of them will be close to Washington D.C. and will still have each other while I’ll be across the ocean but I know that our paths will cross again sometime.

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New Year’s Eve

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After Maramures, Robert, Whitley, and I took a 6 hour train ride down to Cluj to ultimately meet up with what felt like half of the PCVs. That day we just relaxed and hung out while Megan and Kaitlyn made their way into Cluj.

The following day we took Robert and Kaitlyn around the city since it was their first time visiting. We went ice skating, walked around and saw the churches, and headed to the mall. We also met two volunteers serving in Albania that were also staying at the hostel. We all went out together and met up with Kevin, Anthony, and four more pcvs at a bar in Piata Unirii that played nothing bus 50s-80s music which we rocked out to all night long. It was a great new years celebration and so relaxing to speak English with everyone. I also really enjoyed talking to Eric and Garret, the Albania pcvs, about their experiences at their sites and sectors.

This NYE marked year 4 that Kaitlyn and I have spent together and we have already started  planning next year’s. We are currently in Budapest staying with Kait and I’ll be sure to update about yet another trip to the land of the Magyars.

My Birthday, Moj Rodjendan, Ziua Mea

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So this post is a TAD late, considering my birthday was two weeks ago but I have been fairly busy so blame it on that if you like. My birthday tale starts on the eve of said day, November 4th. I had quite the PCRO moment when my mom and I were in the middle of baking what ended up being over 100 brownies, 50 cookies, and 50 other random food…things, my propane tank went out. It was around 1pm on a Sunday so all the normal places I would have gone to to get a new tank were closed. After about half an hour of calling around, I finally found a place that was open and a friend of mine to drive me to said place since a full tank weighs about 50lbs.

The actual day of was fun. I received lots of kisses, flowers, chocolates, and “la multi ani”s from my students and I treated them to the plethora of cookies that I had made the day prior. That night my mom, Mary, and I went out for a birthday dinner at one of the restaurants in town.

That week didn’t really entail anything else that exciting. My mom and I hung out in town and in school until Friday. Friday morning we caught the 5:30 am bus to Cluj to meet up with Meg, Megan, Nick, and Kevin to see my mom off and celebrate my birthday with my friends. The weather was pretty dreary and rainy so we didn’t get to do everything we had wanted. I had an interview with the International School in Cluj which went pretty well and that will hopefully be an option after Peace Corps. We spent the day hanging around the city center, going to the craft market and relaxing in a cafe over some vin fiert, hot chocolate and cheese plates. After the entire gang had arrived, we headed to dinner where my mom got to know some of my favorite volunteers.

Saturday morning, after seeing my mom off at the airport, the 5 of us headed out to the salt mine in Turda. If you recall from a post around this time last year, the cit of Turda, which is about 20km outside of Cluj, houses an enormous old salt mine that has been resurrected as a tourist attraction. We spent a few hours there walking around, riding the Ferris Wheel, and rowing the boats.

After getting back to Cluj, Nick told us of a microbrewery in the center that serves liter sized beers so naturally we headed there. The beer was great but what we didn’t know is that they make an amazing burger as well. As mentioned in many previous posts, beef is very hard to come by in this country, especially good quality beef, so when we bit into those burgers it was like heaven! We spent quite a time there enjoying each others’ company and finishing up our gigantic but very delicious beers.

After heading back to the hostel, we got ready, and headed to one of the many college bars in the center. To say the night was fun is an understatement. I even ended up getting to see Ioana, one of my very good friends and ex- students that is now at university in Cluj.

I’m so happy that I got to celebrate my birthday weekend with such an amazing group of people and I could not have asked for a better time. Oh, I forgot to mention, I was talked into wearing a hot pink tutu the night we went out since I was the birthday girl. It was absolutely ridiculous and all thanks to the one and only Megan.

P.S. I ended up getting ICED 4 times that weekend. For those of you who don’t know what that is, you did not attend a college in the states in the recent past. For those of you that do, this is how it happened.

1. Nick saying “LOOK! Some one shit in the plant!”…..ice

2. Found it in my purse at 10am after a shower…ice

3. Found it in Megan’s boot…ice

4. It was in the back pocket of a random traveler that was staying in our hostel…ice

Enjoy the pictures:

Darcy and Joanna Take On Eastern Europe: Part 1

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The day before I was to pick up Joanna and Darcy from the airport in Budapest Joanna informed me that their flight was departing 45 minutes late and that there was a chance that they would not make it to their connection in Helsinki.

I got to the airport just as their plane was supposed to land and after waiting and nervously pacing the arrivals gate for over an hour I decided to try to contact someone that had information. Since i couldn’t get ahold of the girls on their phones, I picked up the information phone only to find out that they could not tell me anything about specific passengers and that I was also at the wrong gate. Apparently there are two arrival gates that aren’t that close to each other and the arrivals board had the flight from Helsinki incorrectly labeled. GREAT! I rushed over to the other side and found the two of them looking distraught and tired as ever.

After getting to the hostel we rested a little and then headed out into the city for some lunch and site seeing. We had an amazing Hungarian lunch and spent the rest of the day walking around and were exhausted by 8pm.

The following day was another big site-seeing day. We went on a 2.5 hour free walking tour of the city which was pretty cool and extremely informational and that was followed by another 2.5 hour communist history tour which I found extremely interesting. It is remarkable how Romania, Yugoslavia, and Hungary all had very different experiences with what was supposed to be the exact same government.

This was my second time to Budapest and there will definitely be a third. There are so many things that I have yet to get a chance to experience.

The following day was spent back in Romania at my go-to city, Cluj. We walked around and saw the sites, visited the churches and the botanical gardens, and had a great meal together with some authentic Romanian wine. Our night was capped off by a stroll through the city park where Darcy discovered the workout equipment and Joanna found a very comfy bench to nap on.

So We Meet Again…

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Cluj, the closest big(ger) city to my site and the place where I find myself very often. I got talked into coming into town for the weekend to hang out with some fellow volunteers that I don’t get to see very often. After spending most of Friday night attempting to pack for a 10 day trip, I headed to bed around midnight only to be woken up far too early at 4:30 by my alarm. I set out to catch the direct bus to Cluj that leaves at 5:30 and ran into some of my students. This was a pleasant surprise being that I wouldn’t be bored during the 3.5 hour ride. Other than just hanging out in the old center and enjoying each other’s company, Saturday was spent visiting the Turda Salt Mines about 45 minutes outside of the city. I had already been to one salt mine in Ploiesti during PST with my host family and assumed this was going to be the same thing. Large, cavernous rooms filled with random signs explaining the history of the mine and some form of half-assed, overpriced amusement. Boy was I wrong. This mine not only had a put put course, bowling alley, and pool tables. It also had an amphitheater, lake, and full sized Merry-Go-Round! When we got back from Turda, our main goal was dinner and warming up. We found Chinese restaurant which was a pleasant surprise and then headed out for some cheesecake and vin fiert. Have I mentioned how much I love cities and the fact that you can find Chinese food and cheesecake in them!?!?!

Today(Sunday) was the designated “American Day”. We headed to the large mall where we ate at Pizza Hut, drank Mountain Dew, and watched an American movie. We walked around the city center a little bit and enjoyed the lights along with the holiday fairs that are going on and made it back to the hostel fairly early. Tomorrow Jeremy, Matt, and myself have an 8 hour train ride to Sinaia (The city where we will be attending our In-Service-Training conference for the next week) awaiting us that we are not looking forward to enduring.

 

Birthday Weekend

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The festivities started off Friday afternoon around 1pm. As I was getting out of the shower, I heard the patter of what sounded like dozens of feet going up the stairwell along with many various teenage voices. I knew that there aren’t many kids that live in my building, and I somewhat assumed they were heading up to my apartment, but I honestly hadn’t the faintest idea as to why. I hurried up and tried to make myself look presentable and then came the knock on the door. When I opened the door, to my surprise, stood the entire class of 10B -all 32 of them- with a cake and flowers in hand bellowing out happy birthday dear teacher in their best English accents they could muster. I stood there for a few minutes in shock because I had no idea how the hell we were all going to fit into my apartment. nonetheless, I invited them in and after about a 2 minute parade, everyone finally managed to squeeze themselves into my living room for a photo op. I now know what it feels like to be in a clown car. After seeing them out, I finished up my packing and headed to Cluj (a nearby large college town) for the weekend for the country wide Peace Corps EAP training.

EAP stands for Emergency Action Plan. Basically, every PC post is required to have one just in case something happens within the country and all of the PCVs need to be evacuated. How the EAP works is, if we receive news that we have to leave the country for some safety reason, we are to go to our designated consolodation point and wait for further instructions. The points are chosen based on size of city and how close they are to an international airport. For the volunteers that live in northern and northwest Romania, Cluj is our meeting point. We were required to arrive by noon on Saturday but since that would mean I would have to get up at 4am on Saturday morning to make it, I just decided to get in Friday night. I got into my hostel around 9pm where I put down my stuff and met the rest of the fellow travelers that were staying at the hostel. Another PCV, Kevin, made it into the hostel around 10 where we hung out for a little bit before we hit the town with the rest of the group.

Saturday morning, we woke up around 10 and headed to our consolidation point. Since the hotel where we are supposed to meet had no idea that we were coming, we decided to just have our actual EAP meeting in the lobby of our hostel since most of the volunteers knew where it was anyways. after about 2 hours, our meeting, along with the EAP test was over and we were free to do whatever we wanted. We decided to grab some lunch at a very tasty restaurant that a 3rd year PCV suggested. After our meal, Chip and Ester surprised me with homemade apple cake with buttercream frosting, American flag posters, stickers, a small mouthwash bottled filled with Maramures Tuica along with many other goodies. We dealt out the cake and the glasses for the tuica with which we cheered to my birthday and sang La Multi Ani.

Following lunch, we went in search of the Ursus Beer Factory that we had heard was in Cluj. After about a half hour of walking with a map that ended 1/2 a km short of where we needed to be, we saw the 6 enormous beer silos of the factory peeking out over the buildings. We went inside and were told that we would not be able to go on a tour but we could patron the restaurant. We hung out at the restaurant for a little while and then the girls headed out to the mall to do some much needed grocery shopping for Megan, and turtle home shopping for me. I got back to the hostel around 9pm where I met the boys up for dinner and by 11pm, after thanking everyone for the birthday wishes via facebook and talking to one of my students, Traian, that built me my own personalized blog for my birthday (details soon to come), I headed to bed to rest up for the trip back today. I got back into site around noon where I immediately started making some apple pie that I plan to bring to school with me tomorrow as a treat to all the teachers for my birthday. I am very self aware. I know what I am, I know what I am not, and I know I am NOT a baker, yet there is a part of me that wishes I could be and constantly tries to bake concoctions. I finally finished the pie after making such a mess in my kitchen that it took me twice as long to clean it up than it did to make the pie, I am ready for the school day tomorrow.

I’m looking forward to this week since I get to travel again next weekend to Suceava for a PC sponsored language refresher weekend that Melissa has planned.

Until next time, Va pup!

 

 

Moon overlooking Sangeorz-Bai