Rambling Robert's Travels

This blog chronicals the travels of myself, Rambling Robert, on my next adventure to South America.

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I am a world traveller. I do not work as such. I have been homeless and unemployed since 1October 2003. I worked as a chef for 30 years in America.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Greetings from Transylvania

Sighisoara Transylvania
So After three weeks in Transylvania I am now going to the Danube Delta.
Sighisoara is a great city to visit. It has a walled Medieval center which was home to Vlad Dracul Tepes. Vlad was not a vampire. We all know there are no such thing as Vampires. Dont we? This guy was, however the inspiration for Bram Stoker who wrote the book Dracula. Vlad was a very cruel leader who used to Impale people who irritated him. He would stick them on a big stake in such a way that the stake wouldnt kill them and leave them hanging like a giant shish kebab out in the weather for a few days till they finally died. Nice guy huh?
We found a great little apartment to rent in the old mideaval center of the town and rented the place for only 20 euros per night for two peopls so 10 euro each. a Nice little kitchen spacious bedroom privat bathroom and dining area. Very nice indeed. at 35 leu (1US dollar= 2.75leu ) per night not only was it the nicest place I have stayed but the cheapest too!
The old town is walled in with many churches and turrets and fortifications. All the streets are of old cobblestone. It is way cool. It is like being in a real medieval village.
This country has more gypsies than any other. The gypsies are easy to recognize by their distinctive dress and their facial characteristics. The men often wear black pinstriped pleated baggy pants and big hats similar in appearance to an American Cowboy hat but different. They have big bushy mustaches and in general are not too tall, I am not shorter than any |I have seen, and have a dark complexion. The woman often wear long colorful dresses and peasant blouses and colorful scarves on their heads. They are sexy looking in a Sophia Loren or Bridget Bardot kind of way but are dark complected and often the men and the women seem to be in need of a bath.
Many of them work as beggars. I am starting to think that there is a law that If a Gypsie has a baby and is out in public he/she is required to beg!! If they dont have a baby they are only begging about 25 or 30% of the time, which is a lot but not chronic. If with a baby who is too small to walk it is more like 90%. There have been decades of social programs to integrate and assimilate Gypsies into the culture under the present government, the communists and the monarchists before them, but to no avail.
They DO NOT want to assimilate. It is harder to have a casual conversation with them than with the other Roman people, who are easy to approach and love to speak to foreigners and to practice their second languages when they know one. Not so the Gypsies, who always want to scam you and they are paranoid that you want to scam them.
They were meant to be annihilated by the Nazis who hated them passionately, but it was not so. The Jews were anihilated here, unlike their neighbor to the south, Bulagaria, where the people protected their Jewish brothers and sisters the Romanians actively aided and abetted the Nazi death machine where the Jews were concerned but the Gypsies have survived. There are said to be about 2,000,000 out of a population of 22,000,000. Less than 1% of the Jews survived the Nazis here.
Tomorrow We journey back to Brasov. The only possibillity to get to the Danube Delta from here is to leave here at 6 am (0600)go through Bucharest and arrive in Tulcea at 11:30 at night (23.30). Alternately we can get to Brasov on the slow train stay the night and leave from Brasov at 9:30 on Monday and arrive Tulcea 1700 (5pm) the same day, by taking a bus.From Tulcea we will go to smaller villages on Danube Delta by boats. We expect to be there for a week or maybe two before heading to Bucovina, but as you know my plans often change!!
So I will write again from the Danube Delta.
I will be going to Egypt soon and appreciate any travel advice from any of you who have been there...

"A wise traveller never despises his own country." Carlo Goldoni
Peace to all who read these words...
Rambling Robert the travelling Man

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Travel update from Sibiu

Hi From Romania,
I am in a little city called Sibiu. It is in the heart of Transylvania. I arrived in Romania on the second of September and have been having a pretty darn good time here. I stayed two nights in the Funky chicken Hostel in Bucharest. What a dive. I mean I am a guy who stays in 5 or 10 euro a night places all over the world. I aint expecting no Hiltons for 8 euros a night...but what a dive this place is!! If you ever go to Bucharest just pass this place by unless you are really desperate. Crowded noisy rooms. Bored
un-attentive staff, gross shower room. You get the picture.
Besides the crummy accomodations,Bucharest just didnt move me at all. I dont know exactly why. Some cities I really dont get anything from but a neutral vibe.
After coming from Bulgaria, I just had to compare it to Sofia and Sofia is 10 times nicer. I did go to the National Art Museum and saw the modern art pavillion which was very nice...I stayed two nights and split for Brasov on a very clean modern new train.
I guess i will give Bucharest another chance. I fly out of there to go to Alexandria Egypt on October 12 so I guess i will get to Bucharest a few days before my flight and check the city out a little more.
(Breathe in...) Brasov waws a way cool iittle town. I stayed in a really nice Hostel called Kismet Dao. (Breathe Out) It cost 10 euros a night but you get free breakfast (just toast jam coffee and tea, but all you want from 6 to 12), Free Internet, Free Laundry, and Free Beer or soda every night. Good location and a very good and friendly, well informed staff.
I met a lot of REALLY cool people in this Hostel and felt very good about this town and myself. I did a lot of meditative walking, climbed a mountain and went touring the local environs and checked out three castels...Well only one was really a castel, Bram Castel. It seems that many people think this is where Dracula lived...WRONG he never lived there. It is just a castel that was built as a fort and then the local Duke lived there for a couple of Generations. No Vampire history here...
Peles (Pay-laysh) Palace was just magnificent. No kidding this place was FANTASTIC Unbelievable beauty and decadent lifestyle of the rich and greedy fuedal lords. These people had an uncanny ability to spend other peoples money!! it took 40 years to build the place and the workmanship and attention to detail is just splendid. If you ever go to Romania be sure and here!!! Ir is in a ski resort town called Sinia...
So after 6 days in Brasov I took the train to Sibiu, which is where I am writing from. The train in Brasov was a trip. I misunderstood which line the train was leaving from and had to run to catch my train on another platform. I got to the platform as the train just began to move and had to jump onto the moving train by holding onto the hand rail and running and then timing my leap to catch the bottom rung of the ladder/steps. All these Romanian guys were all yelling at me from the train and holding out their hands to help with big grins on their faces and they were all congratulating me and laughing as i boarded!! Fun but not so fun...
So I have been in Sibiu for a week. high lights were the outdoor Folklorico Museum which is on about 10 acres of land with a little lake. They have gathered all these old buildings like blacksmith shops grist-mills and fire house and farmers huts and shepherds huts and all kinds of structures from the 1400s through the 1800s and transported them and reconstructed them in this outdoor museum/park. It was a great way to spend an afternoon strolling through history. I met an American ex-pat in Sibiu at the train ticket office and she be-friended me and took me to this little village just out of the city about 15 kilometers called Rasinari which is like seeing the folklorico museum alive and operating!!! All cobblestone steets with horse shit on them. People walking around dressid in traditional clothing and the most gorgeous mountain setting. This is what transylvania was like 100 years ago. We found a house which is owned by a shepherd and his family and I bought half a kilo of "telemea" cheese for 5 leu which is about US$2.00. It is a brine cure cheese like feta made from sheeps milk. Very tasty yet mild and not over powering, and unlike many similar cheeses i have tried, it is not too salty.
So...yesterday Angela arrived from Austria and we will travel around the rest of Romania for another month. Then we part as she goes to South America and I go to North Africa.

We bought train tickets today to go to Sighisoara, and leave tomorrow, again in search of Dracula and adventures as yet unforseen. We expect to be in Sighisoara for about a week and then head to the Danube Delta and see where the mighty Danube River emptys into the Black Sea. We hope to get there in time to see the migratory birds before they leave for their winter homes in Africa... Thats all for now.
here are a couple of quotes from people I admire...
"My favourite thing is to go where I've never been." Diane Arbus
"Men who travel should leave their prejudices at home." Frederick Douglass
"The world is a book, and those who do not travel, read only a page."
Saint Augustine
Peace and love to all of you!!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Greetings from Romania

In Bulgaria, when people say yes (das) they shake their head from side to side.
No (nay) and they move their head up and down. For an American, that is soooo weird!! I really have a hard time getting used to this.
Varna is a beach side resort city on the Black Sea. I am staying in a tiny little village called Zvezditsa. It is about 8km out of the city in the mountains. Very quaint and quiet. There are 3 little one room shops the largest, about 15sq meters and no bars or cafes or restaurants. Absolutely no night life at all. No police station no fire station. Every house has a garden and fruit trees and you can walk up to the house and whistle and the people come out and sell you tomatoes and peppers (chilis, capsicum) and peaches, plums, grapes, cabbage, green or yellow beans... Nice place to hide out for a week. The bus costs 50cents to get to Varna and takes 15 minutes. ]

Varna is full of almost naked beautiful young slavic women sunbathing all day at the beach in thongs and no tops and dancing all night in the discos. Many of the seaside cafes have lound techno style music playing and all these almost naked nymphs dancing together on the sand. I love my life.

Varna has a nice train station and a beautiful cathedral (Bulgarian Orthodox). There are a lot of wonderful pedestrian plazas near the sea and surrounding the cathedral. A very ugly opera house which has no opera until mid September (bummer, I will already be in Romania, tough break ).

The place I am staying is called Gregorys Backpackers and it is run by a nice young english couple, Terry and Georgie. They are most exceptional innkeepers and they have made what would be a very ordinary hostel into a wonderful oasis of hospitality by their charm character and wit. They are da kine.

"For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move." Robert Louis Stevenson

Ah yes mayber old RLS was the original Rambling Robert eh? I will soon be leaving on the night train to Moscow, but I will be getting off in Bucharest Romania.

On October 1, 2006 I will begin my fourth year of being "unemployed and homeless". I am still just loving it. Doing nothing suits me just fine! I remember in the beginning I was afraid I might get bored. Hahh What a laugh! Work was boring, I was never bored on my days off!!
"Does the rose have to do something? No, the purpose of a rose is to be a rose. Your purpose is to be yourself." Thich Nhat Hanh

I never seem to grow weary of new places and never feel like I dont belong. I have become quite content to be a stranger on a train. I make new aquaintences all the time. I am friends with strangers for a few days and then we say good-bye usually forever. Almost everyone who is getting this e-mail is one of those people. I wish you all were here. But wherever you are, I hope you are as happy with what you are doing as I am.

I am reading all the time. Dharma books about buddhism and novels about all kinds of stuff. I am 200 pages into Alexander Dumas' masterpeiced "The Count of Monte Cristo". Simultaaneously I am about 200 pages into Thich Nhat Hahn's masterpiece "The heart of the Buddhas teaching" Both books are brilliant.

Dumas was the john grisham, the stephen king, of his time. the book is a total page turner. you stay up late with it you cant stop reading!! Thich is my hero. He is the living buddha. I am learning so much from him and from his example of a peaceful life. I believe this is the 8th book of his I am reading and each one is more moving than the one before.

I take refuge in the buddha, the one who shows the way in this lifetime
I take refuge in the dharma, the way of understanding and love
I take refuge in the sangha, the community that lives in harmony and understanding
Say that three times fast (or not so fast) and guess what? you are a budhist!!! Its that easy and no fees to pay!! No holy water to sprinkle on your head.

So soon I will go to Bucharest and from there I will explore the wilds of Romania. I want to go to Transylvania. I want to see Ceaucescus palace I just want to be in Romania. From there the plan is to go to Jordan (during Ramazan) and then to Egypt with my old travelling mate Peta. We travelled in Turkey together during Ramazan also. We are getting experienced at this.

"Human beings are more alike than unalike, and what is true anywhere is true everywhere, yet I encourage travel to as many destinations as possible for the sake of education as well as pleasure". Maya Angelou

Well I am furthering my education as a travelling scholar. I am reading more now than I ever did when I was in School and learning new things everyday!! My mind is one step ahead of my body and I am already begining to think of my upcoming journey to the Middle east and to Africa. As I travel for longer and longer i go to more places that are like off the beaten track. I am starting to go to the places that most people can not point ot on a map without doing some research. This suits me fine. The longer one travels the more one feels comfortable in this lifestyle.

So now it is a week later and I am in Transylvania (central Romania) Tomorrow I will go to Bram Castel and see where the real Dracula used to live. I spent two un eventful days in Bucharest and decided to do the boogaloo and head here to Transylvania. I will be in Romania for another 3 weeks or so and then to Jordan or maybe Cairo. Either way, my next three countrys will be Egypt Israel and Jordan so if any of you gets this e-mail and lives in or plans to be travelling in these countries let me know. I hope we can meet up again. I hope some of my Israeli buddies will remember me and help to show me around their country.
Next update in two weeks. Here as always is a little quote to munch on as food for thought...
You don't stop laughing because you grow old, you grow old because you stop laughing.-Michael Pritchard