After having spent a lovely weekend in the chilled Pecs – soaking in the local nightlife, drinks and highly decorated roofs with my friend who decided to come along for a short jolly – I headed into Romania.
First stop Cluj Napoca, where there happened to be a city celebration that fortnight. There were lots of folk bands and guests and markets, it was great! I intended to spend only one night there but thought it worth staying for a proper look at the city, having spend my first hours in Cluj at the festival. I went with another guy staying at the hostel and we couldn’t understand much of what was going on during the speeches given by the bands but we heard lots of blah blah Cluj (cue cheering) blah blah blah Cluj (more cheering)… and so on. So felt we knew enough to know when to cheer…
Fortunately Cluj is a fairly small city so could reach all the highlights in one day – the botanical gardens, the tailor tower (part of the old city wall), the citadel, a crazy little pharmacy museum.
I left Cluj in the direction of Sibiu. I say direction because I really didn’t know which train I was catching where because I was getting loads of conflicting information from websites and train timetables. I got shooed onto a train with an over-familiar creepy train conductor (I was so glad when I switched trains) and managed, with creepy train conductor, to figure out the route of where the hell I was meant to be going. And before you say, I did ask at the front desk but they said, um the next train is.. Oh god! now! go go go! so leapt on without a plan.
I got let off at a station in the middle of nowhere. I climbed down the train and jumped onto the gravel beneath. I walked to the ‘platform’ (some concrete slabs) and was told to get the train behind me. Again no platform to speak of so the train door started at about waist height. I lugged my bag on and clambered up after it. I felt sorry for the little old ladies I saw having to do this too… The train passed through fields, the landscape was so beautiful, really green and tumbling hills that last forever. We stopped at stations that had a sign, a rusting hut and a farm next to it. I got the feeling this was a very local train. Especially when some farm workers got on with a bucket of paint and a scythe.
Eventually made it to Sibiu and discovered festival #4 – an up and coming well respected theatre festival. I saw some street performance, some music and a one woman show about her cycling journey across the Middle East. There are performers from all over the world here to perform, how exciting! Today I’m hoping to catch some more street theatre music and a dance performance. On that note, the festivities will be starting again soon so I had better go!
So I went for my tour, I was quite taken with the Saint Elizabeth cathedral; I was told about a few legends and stories about the buildings here – one of my favourite being that there are monster gargoyles on the cathedral except one that is a woman. apparently the builder’s wife was an alcoholic so as punishment he immortalised her in an ugly stone carving with a bottle under her arm, cursed to be forever spewing water.
The floor is all paved here but there are sections of crazy paving which denotes where the old city walls were. There were some underground tunnels accessible to the public which I had a wander around whilst it looked like rain. It was ok, they were a bunch of tunnels. What was strange was that some awareness group had set up there too. The bigger rooms had big tv screens set up and you could press play and they would tell you about psychology conspiracy theories. They had slovak subtitles but the dvds were all American sensationalist episodes. Ugh, cue cynacism. It was everything i don’t like about American tv, I accept a lot of people like it but hey, whatever. For me, it was deep booming voice, thin on facts supported by fast montages, red overlays and scary music. For example, it spoke about how eugenics came from American psychologists; it inspired Hitlers plan on ethnic cleansing and then when it all went tits up and nazis were put on trial for war crimes all the American psychologists pinned it on their Nazi counterparts with ‘who, me?’ expressions. Now this I know and believe, but the dvd spoke about all of this and finished with ‘and now LOOK!! the tyranny continues today!’ Its like, what? you just missed several decades of information. Oh and psychology invented racism too or something. Suddenly the bland tunnels seemed more interesting.
I had a very very slow afternoon drinks session where I just people watched outside the cafe next to the musical fountains. It was such a great feeling. I don’t have to be anywhere, do anything at all. It was nice to just zone out, a luxury I never give myself back home. I always suffer from ‘the guilt’ that I should be doing something when I try and zone out, which is partly why I can never do a quiet lifestyle!
The musical fountain is kind of cool, the fountains spew water in time to the music, kind of like a water version of the Bristol balloon night glow. It’s nice at first but the novelty had kinda worn off quickly for me, it works to a sort of pan pipe muzak instrumental version of pop songs.
Have done some drawings when I can stand to be out in the scorching heat, even got some ol’ etch-a-sketch action.
Tomorrow, next country – Hungary!
I received an email alerting me to a craft and textiles show in Birmingham; soon thereafter I realised I had to go sample its creative delights and under the guise of it being a birthday present for my mum, we left for Birmingham. It was an inspiring place to be, there were lots of talented people exhibiting their work. We found an exhibition space for Ollivier Henry and Jean-Noel Lavesvre, artists who have a passion for costume and theatre. I was astounded by the delicate work they had achieved and took a photo of my favourite piece. My artistic representation of said work can be seen below: