Goodbye Romania!

Florian D., Dorothee M., Michaela B. and Magdalena M., four volunteers at the end of their project, planning one final trip together, across their ”second home” , spanning several countries and a large number of days. Hitchiking, sleeping outside, couchsurfing, swimming, meeting people, adventures that they decided to share. Read more in the following.

Jumping off a cliff in Dubrovnik. Walking across the beautiful promenade of Split. Sunbathing close to a waterfall in Mostar. Looking down on Sarajevo. Hitchhiking 1500 km in 5 days. Probably what you expect volunteers to do – except the last thing of course. But for the last 3 weeks before my departure to Germany my life looked exactly like this. After finishing my volunteer service – still hypnotized and trying to realize what just happened – I decided to travel three weeks with two other (no sadly ex-) volunteers through Croatia, Bosnia and our new second home Romania. Our roundtrip started with a 24h travel to Dubrovnik with train, bus and plane. Romania: You guys should really work on your trains. There are people who walk faster. But anyway:

After an exhausting trip and even more exhausting night that we spent on a bridge because we had no hostel booked, we finally could enjoy the beauty of Dubrovnik. Placed directly next to the sea with its huge and intact defense wall it is really worth a visit although the prices seem like they were set for winners of the lottery. Like I mentioned before – we mentioned to jump off a cliff in a totally non- touristic area where we were surrounded only by Croatians- who seemed a little confused by our presence, probably they fear the coming invasion of tourists in that part. Next stop: Split, second biggest city in Croatia. By the way: Did you know that in Croatia you have to pay in order to use the bus station- What the hell?! We were lucky enough to find a couchsurfer who lived like 17 footsteps from the city center with its amazing promenade.

[quote]The temperatures were still close to those of the Sun and we used 249 liters of sunscreen every day [/quote]
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The price level was still scary but the beautiful beach with its club right next to it made it worth it. Best part: The club was for free. Unbelievable! But still I was a little scared that all these drunken people would drown in the sea. But anyway: A little weird for me was the basement of a former palace. Several empty dark room without any explanation. Impressing! Also we were lucky enough to watch a live concert in the beautiful surrounding of the palace (not the dark basement, the upper part is really nice). Bad part was the singer waited one hour to start his show – I mean, c’mon you are not Robbie Williams.

Next stop at our trip was Mostar – I admit before my volunteering I didn’t even know it exists. But after we had seen the old bridge (in pictures) we knew we had to go. Funny fact: The bridge was the least impressive part in the end. We rather enjoyed the nice old town with its bazaar with a lot of local stuff and the mountain surrounding. We spent two days there. The people talked a lot about the war in former Yugoslavia and how it still affects life today.

[quote]Looking at totally destroyed buildings in which families are still living despite the damage, was really shocking for us[/quote]

We even managed to visit a bunker and a mountain where Croats and Bosnians were fighting. In the context of this ”tour” we also went to a huge waterfall resort – swimming there was a great experience although you had to be careful.  Sure, we only heard the Bosnian side of the war story but still I found it sad how little I knew about this conflict that still is a huge topic in this country. Compared to Croatia people lived in totally different conditions, poverty can be seen everywhere when walking through the city but still it was one of the most impressive trips during my volunteering.

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Last non-Romanian stop was Sarajevo. The temperatures there finally went down to a human level but it was still the city we liked the least. The old town with its bazaar I found really nice. Close to there we found a really nice tea shop that you should definitely try out when you go there. But my favorite part of the city was high up on a hill – I forgot the name, as an excuse I think it was in Bosnian- where we had an awesome view over mountains, forests and nevertheless the whole city. From above it looked actually much better than inside, how mean of me to say. Worst part was that a wasp following/attacking me for minutes until I gave up and left the place. I will come back and continue fighting with you, wasp! In Sarajevo we also had a great couch-surfer who hosted us for three days.

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Then we finally got back to Romania: first stop was Timisoara. I had already missed to talk in my horrible Romanian. Due to the fact we arrived late in the evening we only managed to see a bit. After a short stay with a couchsurfer – in Romania you always find one – we started hitchhiking to a small village close to the Pitești. Some people could almost walk this distance in that period.

[quote]Driving with a priest who was sort of thinking to kidnapping us was truly an experience[/quote]

After our long expected arrival we stayed in a house surrounded by complete silence and a great landscape but again we arrived too late to see stuff. This changed in Constanța, our next stop. Our couchsurfer even gave us the car so we managed to go to the seaside and see most of the city centre and old town. Driving in Romania was really fun, only in roundabouts there seem to be no rules at all!


[quote]The hospitality that we experienced throughout the whole stay in Romania was unique and every time we felt thankful. I wish Germans were like that[/quote]

Last stop was Tulcea: for those of you who don’t know it it’s next to the Danube Delta and the home of several millions of mosquito who try to kill German tourists. Our temporary hosts there accepted us half an hour before the arrival and booked a boat tour and barbecued for us! That’s why I love Romania. We were there only for two days but there is enough to see for a week! Actually it was pretty sad to see that this impressive part of nature is so non-touristic. It deserves a lot more publicity- like the whole Romania!

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During our travel through Romania I often thought: Why do people rather go to Italy for the 12th time instead of visiting this amazing country? After a short stop in Brașov, which we had already seen in November we reached the final destination: Cluj Napoca, where, as a final act, we went to Electric Castle festival (they play electric music at a castle – surprise!).  I have never ever seen this much mud in one place in my entire life. They should change the festival name to “Electric Mud”.  The guys who sold the gumboots never made this much money in their life. And then after three days in the wilderness: ”gata EVS” ( my favorite word in Romanian), ”gata Romania” and back to Germany after I had picked up my suitcase in Baia Mare, my new second home.

Although I’m only home, it already feels like long ago. Like it happened in dream… I miss this country and my EVS every day and I’m extremely thankful that Team for Youth gave me this unique opportunity – and I’m not saying this because they suggested me to write this entry. I enjoyed this period so much and I can’t put into words how grateful I am that I was given this opportunity. Baia Mare, and Romania itself, will always be my second home. And if I know one thing for sure: I will come back!!

Dora, Flo, Magda and Micha were part of the Carnaval Plus project, Rural Urban Activity, an eight month European Voluntary Service project, financed by the European Union within the Erasmus Plus framework. As part of their project they were assisting language teachers in rural areas around Baia Mare and organizing different educational workshops with children and youngsters in the city. At the time this article was posted all four ex-EVS were safely home, reconnecting with their friends and relatives and starting their summer jobs. And (very likely) missing their life in Romania!