Tag Archives: Sibiu

Temporarily homeless

Well, I’ve left the flat and said goodbye to the (frankly utterly bonkers) dog for the last time. And as there’s still 3 hours before the bus to Cluj, where else could I go but the internet cafe? (I reckon I’ll have about an hour and a half left, which I’ll try to use in October when I briefly come back). I did, eventually, just about, get my life into my bags. But will have to do some creative repacking before Saturday. Sigh.

I’ve looked at everyone’s blogs, I’ve looked at facebook, I’ve looked at the ship, I’ve checked bloglines. I’m bored now.

Stuck record

I know I sound like a stuck record, but it really is boiling here. Fortunately lower temperatures are forecast for later this week, though I’m not sure I like the sound of the (and I quote, translated obviously) “violent storms, gales and even hail” that are set to accompany the drop in temperature. It’s just one extreme or the other. I’m madly handwashing everything at the moment and hopefully it will all dry before the violent storms arrive.

The fireworks last night were a bit odd. I only caught the last 10 minutes of them, they were part of a stage show which featured dancers climbing ladders and men with no shirts posturing and looking anguished, to a soundtrack that was a cross between Jean Michel Jarre and expansive classical film music if you know what I mean. And then when it finished they started clearing the stage while playing excessively loud German heavy metal. Which made a bit of a change I suppose.

Tomorrow is my last full day here. I’ve finished all my Sibiu interviews, and have a couple at the end of the week once I’ve (temporarily) moved. I’ll be back in Cluj for a couple of days, staying at the school, and have one interview there and one in the town where I used to live years ago when I was an English teacher (in an office which is in the same street as where I lived, so that will be a real trip down memory lane, I’ve not been there for 11 years!). Then on Saturday I get up at stupid o’clock to fly to Bucharest, then have an all-day wait there before flying to Moldova in the evening. After tomorrow I’m not sure what internet access will be like – I doubt I’ll be lucky enough to have a good internet cafe like this 2 minutes from my flat any more, sadly. Depending on when the new people turn up to take over my little flat (they arrive the day I move out) I may have time to kill in the internet cafe on Wednesday before getting the bus, but I don’t know. I wonder if I’ll get twitchy if I can’t use the internet so much.

Groan. It’s *so* hot.


As it’s my last weekend in Sibiu, I thought I’d better do something a bit cultural. Fortunately the contemporary art gallery (part of the main Brukenthal Museum) is in my street, so I thought I’d call in there. It didn’t take long – one room with one exhibition (which was OK, but nothing amazing) and another room where they were installing something or other. The staircase was quite pretty though. I was a bit disappointed – I went to the main Brukenthal Museum, which is on Piata Mare, several weeks ago and thought it was a bit dull (lots of portraits of men with wigs), so was hoping this one would be better.

There are fireworks tonight. It’s the opening day of another festival here (now is it the Lyrical Art Festival, or the Free Theatre Festival? I forget, they’re both on and starting around about today). So I shall go to see them, though it’ll be my bedtime – I really like fireworks. And as I have been organised and have my two remaining Sibiu interviews scheduled for tomorrow (when museums are closed) I shall try to pop into the History Museum (which HD and I never did manage to go to) on Tuesday (my last full day here).

Anything to avoid packing. Argh.

Vampires and, er, topiary

So, here are the Sighisoara views for your delight and delectation. Mostly they are of the Clock Tower. Sighisoara is an ancient fortified city, and has 9 surviving towers (of the original I think 13), all except the Clock Tower being named after particular trade guilds (the Tailors’ Tower, the Ironmongers’ Tower, etc etc) who were expected to defend their particular bit of the fortifications in the event of an attack (which appeared to happen rather a lot in the olden days, mainly those pesky Turks). The Clock Tower though is the most decorative and photographed, for rather obvious reasons, and it really adds to the whole gothic Dracula-esque atmosphere. First though is a picture of your actual Dracula’s birthplace, which obviously, being the most famous bit of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, is now a tacky restaurant and bar:

Sighisoara - Dracula's birthplace

Next up lots of pictures of the Clock Tower from various angles (plus one which is a view from the top of the Clock Tower, one of a random orange wall that I thought was pretty, and one of some rather nice wine we imbibed, oopsie):

Sighisoara - the Clock TowerSighisoara - view from the top of the Clock Tower
Sighisoara - the Clock Tower againSighisoara dining

This next one is the least shaky one I managed of the Clock Tower at night (after half a bottle of wine and with no tripod, this is actually more impressive than you’d think) – honestly, how could Dracula not have been born here?!

Sighisoara - the Clock Tower

And finally back to Sibiu, and from the sublime to the frankly ridiculous. Sibiu has just entered into a “fraternal relationship” (which as I understand it is sort of like twinning, but not as full on) with the town of Lucon in France. In recognition of this fact, Lucon donated a very, er, interesting addition to Sibiu’s culture – well, honestly, if you entered a fraternal relationship with the European Capital of Culture, I’m sure you’d donate a bizarre piece of topiary and plonk it in front of the Town Hall as well. Here it is – 2 bears, a heron and lots of water features, not looking out of place in the slightest:

Bizarre topiary


Thank you Ian, I am definitely not undead. At least, I wasn’t last time I looked.

Dracula’s birthplace (aka Sighisoara) was fantastic, it hadn’t been McDonaldised (being a UNESCO World Heritage Site probably helped in that regard) though it had been somewhat taken over by cheap souvenir sellers all over the place. I got some good photos, but forgot to bring my memory stick to the internet cafe tonight, so I’ll have to put them on the blog tomorrow.

After getting back on Sunday HD was going to cook, but most of the veg was either uninspiring, mouldy or both, so we ate out instead at my favourite restaurant here. Oh well, such is life – it’s tough but someone has to do it.

Then Monday we got the bus to Bucharest, where it was very very very hot. Bleurgh. I did say to him I’m really looking forward to Greenbelt, I’m not expecting temperatures in the high 30s there so it means we will be able to have a cuddle without sticking to each other (I know, it’s a lovely image – probably best not to dwell on it). When there we went to a wonderful Lebanese restaurant not far from the hotel – I really don’t like Bucharest much, but one thing it really has got much more sussed than anywhere else in Romania is eating out. Apart from this Lebanese meal, we’ve basically had either pizza or pasta (but mostly pizza) every time we’ve eaten out anywhere else, and I’d say that was pretty typical for just about every town and city I know here.

Yesterday we had a quick walk round Herastrau Park (probably my favourite place in Bucharest – much calmer and greener than the rest of it), including an amusing incident near the Arc de Triomf (yes Bucharest has one too – it’s smaller than Paris’s but bigger than Chisinau’s) where some passing Roma tried to ask HD about his camera. We’d had a bit of attention from Roma in Sighisoara too, and I think it was mainly because of his hat (which is somewhat like the hats that Roma men wear, and nothing like the hats Romanian men wear), plus as he pointed out pretty much the only men with any facial hair here are Roma, most men are clean-shaven, so I’m pretty sure they thought he was Roma. The Roma in Sighisoara looked at us as we passed and made a comment about “gadji” which I’m pretty sure is the Roma word for “non-gypsy” – I think they were commenting on me (far too blonde to be Roma) holding hands with this hairy hatted guy (I mean he’s hairy and had a hat, not that he had a hairy hat).

Anyway, after that, we got on a (very very very very very hot) bus and went to the airport, where I only cried a little bit (unlike when I left in May when I howled), and then he flew off to Wales (which according to the TV was 20 degrees cooler than Bucharest yesterday) and I caught the bus (with less than 10 minutes to spare!) back to Sibiu. It feels very strange not having him here – I did often go out to do interviews or observations or whatnot and leave him in the flat (he had work with him too, he wasn’t just twiddling his thumbs), and it was great that he was here to come back to. Fortunately I’ve had a very very busy day today, including a good interview with an even Bigger Cheese than the last Big Cheese, so at least I’ve had things to distract me. And it’s still boiling here. Tomorrow, according to the paper, temperatures in Transylvania will be hitting 39. Oh joy (but at least the washing will dry).

Photos to follow (of Sighisoara, not of washing!).

I can’t believe I only have a week left in Sibiu! It’s gone so quickly. After that I have 3 nights back in Cluj, and then I’m off to Moldova for 2 months (with a Greenbelt break in the middle). The adventure continues. Eek.

Still here!

So, HD is here, and life is very good 😀 Lots of wine, talking (possibly those are related), and general wonderfulness. The culture I have to say has been a bit disappointing since he got to Sibiu – after last month’s lots-of-cool-things, at the weekend there was a fashion show in Piata Mare, we stayed for a few minutes but left when a woman started singing a Eurovision-style power ballad. And then yesterday when we walked past the stage there were a lot of Germans in lederhosen slapping their thighs, as is their wont. Today we tried to go to the History Museum (I’ve not been there yet, and thought I’d save it for when he came) but got there just as it was closing for the day. Doh! On his first day, as we were in Bucharest heading from the hotel to the bus station, I took him to see Casa Poporului (the big wedding cake, ugly govt building with humungous boulevard etc), as you can’t go to Bucharest and not see it. Amazingly, and I’ve no idea why, all the fountains in the boulevard contained coloured water – as if Bucharest isn’t ugly enough, there was a humungous pink fountain, plus smaller green, blue, yellow and purple ones. The town that taste forgot, for sure (I haven’t put the photos on flickr yet, but will show you when I do!).

So far then, since being in Sibiu HD has mainly accompanied me to the laundrette, tried to fix my leaking toilet (fortunately leaking clean water and not, er, not clean water), and cooked me a lovely meal. So I’m getting my money’s worth, and I’m sure he’s having a great time too. 😀

Yesterday I had my Big Cheese interview, which went really really well, and she is going to contact some other people (1 Big Cheese and a few Medium Sized Cheeses, hopefully) on my behalf so that I can then talk to them too. So I’m very happy, and currently not walking round declaiming that my research is doomed. So that’s good 🙂

1 sleep to go

Not that I’m counting or anything. Yes, tomorrow I head down to Satan’s Armpit (aka Bucharest) to get HD from the airport. It’s been so so long, I know this has always been a long-distance relationship but 2000 miles (or so) and nearly 2 months is just too long-distance. Thankfully we had a storm in the early hours this morning which has (unlike the last couple of storms) done a great job of clearing the air and making it cooler, so hopefully the bus journey tomorrow won’t be too sweltering. I was seriously wilting yesterday.

In other news, I was really pleased today to find the synagogue open. Today is the last day of the EuroJudaica 2007 festival, I’ve not been to any of the events (mainly because the posters were rubbish and proclaimed that lots of events were happening but didn’t actually say what or where), but as I was dropping some stuff off at the laundrette I noticed that the synagogue (which is opposite the laundrette) had its doors open, something I’ve not seen before. So I crossed over to take a look, and found a very friendly man who was happy to show me round and let me take pictures. There was an exhibition on synagogues in Romania, and a brief history of the Jewish community in Sibiu. There are now, apparently, only 65 members of the Jewish community left in Sibiu and Medias (a nearby biggish town), around half of whom are ethnic Jews and the others non-Jewish spouses who keep the Jewish traditions. The community is mostly rather elderly (I was interested to see that the community actually increased just after WW2, to around 2,000 (from 1,708 in 1940), due to many refugees and survivors from the extermination camps settling here, but it dwindled dramatically in the 1970s and 1980s with large-scale emigration to Israel). Now, although the synagogue doesn’t seem to be used for regular services (I don’t think there is a rabbi here), the community works hard to maintain the two synagogues and 10 Jewish cemeteries in the judet (county) and still keep the various holy days of their faith. And, despite the fact that it is so small, I still had a tangible sense of “community” as I looked round, and as I was greeted with “Shalom, Shalom” by one of the older men who came in while I was there. I thought back to when I went to the Klezmatics gig at Celtic Connections (see early Feb entries) where I had felt so excluded – today I felt welcomed by the community and was glad to experience a little of their culture.

Top tips for researchers in Eastern Europe (#2 of an occasional series)

Don’t despair when things go pear-shaped. The section in your methodology chapter on “Barriers to Research” will be so much fuller and more interesting this way.

(The way things are going it will be the only bit of the thesis worth reading).

(Another interview cancelled by the respondent, followed by a visit to an office which doesn’t exist any more. Gah. Today’s main achievement will be collecting my washing from the laundrette).


Cal’s text did eventually get through, and as a result I learnt about a landslide in Glasgow due to the rain (story and pictures here). I have to say, this has left me feeling like I’m living in a parallel universe. It doesn’t sound like the flooding on the south side is round the Stately Pile (thank goodness!) but it isn’t that far away (the Victoria Infirmary is walking distance away, and is at the bottom of a hill so flooding of that area isn’t all that surprising) – and yet I continue to be exhausted by the heat, and the news here today is of Romania facing its most serious drought (and possible food shortages) since 1946 because of the lack of rain. One of the women I met today said rain is forecast on Thursday, but according to yahoo weather it’s just light showers, and doesn’t sound like enough to sort out the dwindling water supplies. According to an email I got last week from friends in Moldova they’re already having water shortages and supplies being cut off in the villages, and it’s 37 degrees in the shade. Parts of Romania aren’t far off that either (I’m actually lucky in Sibiu, although I moan about the heat it’s cooler here than many places as the mountains protect us from the worst of the weather). And yet not that far away, in my other home, there’s chaos due to flooding. The world’s gone mad.

Big Cheese part deux

As promised, the Big Cheese (whom I had put off calling last week, and eventually emailed) called me as promised today and we have arranged a meeting for next week. This is quite a result, not least because most people here seem to take no notice of emails or say they’ll call and then don’t. So that’s good. She did interrupt a very intellectual game of hearts though, which I then went on to lose spectacularly.

Cal, I didn’t get your text, but I have a feeling I may have given you the UK international dialling code rather than the Romanian one. If you preface the number 0040 rather than 0044 maybe that will work.

In other news, I forgot to blog yesterday that following last Sunday’s rather lovely 10 minutes outside the Orthodox Cathedral listening to the choir and the chanting, I thought I’d do the same yesterday. Unfortunately I got there about 15 minutes later than last Sunday, and got there for the sermon instead. Which sadly wasn’t the same at all. Oh well. That’ll teach me.