The Romanian Roadtrip – Part 3

The Citadel, Alba Iulia

We headed to the romantically titled Citadel of Alba Iulia. We parked and discovered a little local market adjacent, so thought we would stock up on some fresh items…corn on the cob, peaches, tomatoes and the like. Gypsy types were stationed at the entrance selling what I initially thought were blueberries, but were in fact blackcurrants. Blackcurrants by the bucket load. They are sour little devils, as I sampled some before we ended up buying blackberries. Do you remember as a child picking and gorging on blackberries? They are all sprayed now in Australia and very expensive to buy a little punnet. Those babies evaporated as we drove along.

The Citadel – a star shaped fortress on the hill – was very pretty and held a welcoming parade held in our honour. Not really, it was actually the Changing of the Guard ceremony, and wandered about some beautiful buildings. We had an incredibly crappy lunch and then headed off.

Enroute we stopped to investigate another of the fortified churches, (apparently worship was hazardous back in the day) at Aiud. The Church was undergoing some renovation works, where the old deteriorating mortar was being removed to expose the original (and beautiful) brickwork. As is the case in any caravan park in Australia, and possibly the world over, when blokes are working, other blokes will come to watch and discuss said works. Steve in this case was the watcher, and after some good natured banter about who was actually working and who was slacking off, spoke to the boss. The works had been ongoing for one year, with another three to go. We admired the electrical wire gymnastics, especially where a flower pot had been placed in an effort to beautify the snarly mess.

Enroute we took a detour to the Dumbrava Monastery, and its magnificent garden. The peaceful and quiet atmosphere, along with the wonderful floral displays instilled a sense of calm….

So, it was on to Turda. Staying at an Airbnb, newly set up, in an apartment building in Turda. Checking in is always a fun experience, especially if your phone refuses to connect. As all the buildings were the same style and have a unique but incomprehensible numbering system, we flagged down a passing cab driver who helpfully called the owner to say we were there. Free parking onsite (which means – park at your own risk on the street if you can find a spot), was concerning,but without incident. The flat was actually very comfortable. We did have a balcony of sorts and a washing machine, which was instantly put to use. Three floors down the local mens club was in full cry, playing cards until the early hours.

Time to put our feet up and watch Johnny Depp, playing a vampire.

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Is it too late to have a gap year in your late 50s? To take back some time from our day to day working life to travel - unplanned, unescorted, unfettered? To take that leap? It was a defining year - liberating, challenging, humbling, scary. It was many things, but it wasn't a holiday.

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