Journey around the world: Hungary & Romania

in TravelFeed3 years ago (edited)

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IMAGINARY LINE

While the car moved slowly, I flew away to the realm of my imagination. On the top page of the notebook, I engraved letters I.R.A.N. At that point in time, Iran was the main goal of our journey. In order to reach it, some smaller steps had to be taken. For now, it was Hungary and Romania.

The Slovak driver noticed my writings. He confessed that not long ago he traveled to some of the farthest corners of the world himself. Yet, over the years, his beloved wife and a hut full of children led to a more sedentary life.

At first, this middle-aged man intended to take us only to the next town, but once we reached it, he didn't stop. We were taken all the way to the imaginary line that separated Slovakia and Hungary.

For some reason, I recalled a story, heard many years ago. It was something about camels. The one thing that got engraved in my memory was the fact that in order to keep a camel in a certain area you don't need a fence. Digging a small groove is enough as no camel will ever cross it. Even if it is the tiniest one.

It seemed like the line between Slovakia and Hungary had force equally as powerful against us humans. Like those camels, we looked at the non-existent boundary and somehow felt that a bigger than usual step had to be taken in order to get to 'the other side'. This was how we left Slovakia behind. There was no point in turning back.

A few Hungarian words broke the silence. It was clear that the Hungarian language was unlike any other language that we have ever heard before. Little did we know how long our stay in Hungary was going to be. As it later turned out, long enough for us to get acquainted with the intricacies of the Hungarian language pretty well.

HONEY, I SHRUNK THE KIDS

'Would be great if someone stopped without asking! We wouldn't have to stand on the side of the road for hours' I thought aloud.

'Hey, guys!' We were invited by some guy with charcoal black hair. 'Jump in, I'll give you a lift!'

The man in his thirties reminded American actor Rick Moranis. The one that became famous after playing the lead role in the movie 'Honey, I shrunk the kids'. Soon it turned out he was not an actor, but a student traveling to Budapest.

The man popped out from nowhere as a mushroom after the rain. All we had to do was think about it and it happened. While some say it was a coincidence, others believe that there is no such thing as coincidences. 

LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL

We were taken a couple of hundred kilometers south of the border. According to the driver, getting to the other side of the highway was supposed to be as easy as wiping your butt, but it wasn't. The road was like a fast-flowing river with a high fence in the middle. There was no easy way to get to the other side with backpacks that big.

Suddenly, a Police officer introduced himself. Hungarian Guardian angel read our minds and warned us not to do anything stupid. According to him, even if we succeed, we would get a fine. A cozy cafe at the nearest gas station seemed like a nice place to have some tea and to think of a plan B.

The first option was to hitchhike along the highway and find a safe place to cross over. The main con was that the farther we would get, the longer it would have taken us to go back. Anyway, all cars that stopped to refuel had at least four passengers, and there was no room for two more.

The second option was to hike across the field, parallel to the highway, and look for another way to get to the other side. This was the thing that we decided to do. The sun was blazing and the sweat was flowing like a river. 90-liter backpacks were not helping either.

Backpack packing Rule No 1 states that the heaviest items should be on the top. This raises the center of gravity and one does not feel the need to bend forward that much. Something back then we knew little about. Anyway, the path got blocked by the field of corn. We decided to have some rest.

Later, @Kamile settled in the shade and started writing her diary while I dived into the boundless sea of corn. Luckily, it didn’t take long to get around. An unexpected discovery emerged in front of my eyes - a tunnel that went under the highway. Alleluia!

TO NYIREGYAHAZA WITH JASON STATHAM

'Two movie stars in one day', I thought aloud once the driver's face became visible.

This time a Frenchman stopped. In some visual respects, and perhaps even in his driving habits, the man was reminiscent of actor Jason Statham. Hollywood actor who usually plays in action movies.

He drove at the speed of about 130-140 km/h, and he kept releasing the steering wheel and putting his hands as if he was praying. Every time he did that, he also turned towards us with a facial expression as if he wanted to say, 'Oh no! No one is steering! What will happen now?'

Both of us agreed that it was best not to feed him with our attention. Without our emotions, the man lost his desire to show up and the performance ended as quickly as it began. 'Normal' conversation started and the driver explained that he was traveling to Nyíregyháza, where his mother lived.

Despite some unusual jokes, he proved to be an incredibly nice person. He kept asking if the air conditioner was adjusted well enough or if the music wasn't playing too loud. Also, he was interested in the Lithuanian language and our traditions. It was a surprise to him that Lithuania is not a part of Russia, but a separate country.

THROUGH THE EYES OF A CHILD

Nyredhaza is the seventh-largest city in Hungary, located in the northeast of the country. We stopped in the heart of the city. The driver's gaze caught Kevin, Kamile's teddy bear.

The man seemed delighted. He hurried towards the back of his car and came back with a plush koala in his hands. As they say, you must never judge a book by its cover. Maybe it's his daughters?

Soon things took an unexpected turn. A sturdy, mature-looking middle-aged man took both toys and began to imitate their romantic sounds: French kisses and so on. However, this was not the end of the act.

Suddenly, he stood up and ran towards the car once again. This time he pulled out another plush toy. This time it was a tiger.

Only now when I have a daughter myself, I do understand how a man develops the skill to make his voice 'thin' or roar like a lion. Basically, to do whatever that is needed at that point in time.

3 DAYS WITH HUNGARIANS

We spent the next night at a cozy campsite, next to the lake, located 6 kilometers away from Nyíregyháza. We spent the next day in Debrecen eating buns with acacia honey, gifted by someone that gave us a ride, and exploring the city. In the evening we had a long hike out of the city and another overnight stay in nature.

'My pocket is full of money. I have to give it to my mother because it’s not safe for those banknotes to be with me for too long. After that, I will take you to Romania,' said Dr. Zsirosh Istvan.

We met Istvan near Berettyóújfalu. Half an hour later we sat at his Mom's place eating scrambled eggs with sausage and tasting local drinks. We talked about the history, differences, and similarities of Lithuanian and Hungarian customs and other things. Istvan happened to be well educated in the fields of geography and the history of neighboring countries.

A couple of hours later, Istvan and his mother took us to Oradea - Romanian town, located only a few kilometers away from the border. Our car got stopped by Border officers. They asked Istvan if we were hitchhikers and if we asked him to transport us across the border. His answer was 'No'. According to Istvan, we were his friends.

THE CALL OF THE DUCKS

Within the few next hours in Oradea, we visited some of the most famous architectural monuments, tried some onion soup at the local pub, and tasted some Romanian ice cream. Soon Istvan's mom started switching between looking up at the sun and staring nervously at her clock. It turns out she had some chicken and ducks, which needed to be fed every few hours. Istvan called it 'The call of the ducks'.

According to our plan, after a short tour, we were supposed to continue the journey. However, both of our friends insisted not to go yet and persuaded us to stay with them for a couple more days. To be fair, it didn't take long for us to accept their invitation.

We returned to Istvan's SUV and headed back to Hungary. According to Istvan, it was not long ago that he bought the car. Before that, he drove an old Volkswagen Golf II. When I asked why he made the decision to buy a new car, Istvan replied that VW Golf was a great machine. Very economical. However, people found it incomprehensible how a farmer can live without an SUV.'

'A friend once told me that if I bought this car just to prove I was not poor, all it proved was that I am incredibly stupid!'

BEES, PARROTS, AND LONGHORN CATTLE

After crossing the Romanian-Hungarian border again, we set off for dinner. Istvan ordered some soup, which was served in a loaf of bread and a plate of sliced ​​beef stomach. The stomach was served with vegetables, sprinkled with fragrant spices.

Later we headed to his place. Istvan's home was never quiet as two dozens of noisy parrots sang loudly pretty much all day long. By the way, our host was quite a singer himself. Hungarian folk songs were something that he loved singing the most.

It was clear Dr. Zsiros Istvan had a colorful personality. It turned out that not only did he work as a vet at the Wildlife Sanctuary but also owned a farm, where he grew sunflowers and kept honey bees.

In the morning Istvan prepared so-called Hungarian 'Pork cheese'. Surprisingly, it had nothing to do with real cheese. He recalled that Pamela Anderson once visited Hungary and hated the Pork cheese so much that it even made her sick. 

Later Istvan confessed that he forgot to check his bees for a few days in a row. Before heading to do some work he said:

'I rested yesterday, but today I will see the damage done by my laziness.'

Later that day, our host took us to the Wildlife Sanctuary that he worked at. Hungarian Longhorns looked majestic, but all the other forms of life found there were lovely too.

After a short tour at the park called 'Mini Hungary', we were invited to visit his mom. This time Istvan's younger brother joined us too. This man was as big as a six-door closet. Their mother admitted that when both of her sons were at home, there was not enough room in the house even for the leanest mosquito.

Our stay was coming to an end and a long journey awaited us. That is why Istvan drew a map of Romania and marked a route that he would take. It was a longer, but way more adventure-promising route than the one we had in mind as it went across the famous region of Transilvania.

Istvan pointed out some interesting places, explained which national minorities live in each part of the country. Some good advice is something that you must never refuse. Finally, we were taken back to Oradea. It was time to say 'Farewell'.

ROMANIA

This time we were given a lift by a medical student from France. He was on his way to Cluj Napoca, also known as Cluj, to visit his girlfriend. Along the way, he kept looking at the haystack piled on the haystacks and asked if we had such 'mountains' back in Lithuania. It’s no secret that this method of drying hay, which was used for centuries, has almost disappeared in the last couple of decades.

Getting to Cluj took 3 hours. The driver listened to some tapes, trying to learn Romanian basics, and claimed that it wasn't that difficult. 3 hours passed in a blink of an eye. Views of a city also called 'the heart of Transylvania' opened up in front of us. The driver stopped at St. Michael's church where we took separate ways.

Cluj Napoca is the third-largest city in Romania, located in the north of the country. There are those who believe that the origins of the city date back to Roman times when Emperor Trajan established a base of Roman legions in this area, which he named Napoca.

After doing some random exploration and spending a night at the guest house, it was time to keep going. With a third of a million inhabitants, Cluj Napoca turned out to be big enough to get lost in. The lack of internet connection didn't help either.

Luckily, we met a friendly Hungarian man who kindly offered his help. He draw a map and showed the best way to get out of the city. What is more, he took a piece of paper and printed the letters 'HR'. It symbolized a certain region of Romania inhabited almost exclusively by Hungarians. It was supposed to help us with our hitchhiking experience.

It's important to mention, that Cluj Napoca had a very special feeling about it. Looking forward to coming back again. However, at that time we had to keep going. Next destination - Miercurea Ciuc.

The road this town, which was mostly inhabited by Hungarians, stretched through some colorful villages and towns: Turda, Tirgu Mures, and a few others. In Miercurea Ciuc we had to be hosted by our friend's friend, but at the time of our arrival, he was away. For this reason, we ended up spending the night on a hill just outside the town.

ONWARDS AND FORWARDS

The first time that we found a host at Couchsurfing.com happened in Brasov. If my memory doesn't trick me, his name was Valentine. 'I hate you!' - he confessed. 'When I was your age, the only things I cared about were parties and friends. I wish I did something similar to what you do now!'

Every city has a soul. Brasov clearly had one too. It was surrounded by some kind of ancient aura. The old town reflected those times when men fought face-to-face rather than hiding behind their keyboards.

The sign of Brasov looks similar to the one that is in Hollywood. It has all forms of cultural expressions: a colorful history, architecture, and local cuisine. What is more, in the outskirts of Brasov you may find some wild bears and if you don't mind taking a quick bus ride - The Bran Castle.

The Bran Castle, also known as Dracula's Castle is definitely known to the tourists. Mass tourism has the ability to kill the charm even of a place as mythical as this one. A few years have passed and I still think about getting to Romania by car and exploring some places lesser-known.

The last stop before heading to the next country happened to be Bucharest. After spending a day in the capital, my girlfriend @Kamile, which is now my wife, and I decided to try another form of traveling. This was why we bought two train tickets to Ruse, Bulgaria.

All in all, Romania was as hospitable as it could be. People we've been lucky to meet took good care of us and did not spare some advice. Never thought hitchhiking in Romania would be such a pleasant experience. Luckily, we still have this video clip to remind us of the good old days in Romania.

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Thanks to curators of @ocdb, @curangel, @curie, @tipu, and all the readers, that read my previous articles. 

Source of the photos: my personal blogs https://slevas.lt/kelione-aplink-pasauli and http://invisusmundi.lt


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Traveling through Hungary and Romania sounds like an incredible experience filled with unexpected encounters and stories to tell. It's fascinating how people from different places can come together and create memorable moments.And speaking of travel, I'm a travel enthusiast myself. Recently, I had the opportunity to visit Si Como, and it was a fantastic experience. If anyone here loves exploring new destinations and trying local cuisines, I highly recommend checking it out on sicomono.com. You'll find some valuable insights and travel inspiration.

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