Student Blogs/Jasmine in Germany

…continued from An Adventurous Semester Break Part 1

The bus journey to Sibiu lasted around four hours, and we stopped at almost every little village and town, all through the Transylvanian countryside! It was a culture shock to say the least—probably one of the biggest culture shocks I had experienced on my exchange thus far.

The bus was full of both young and old locals, and we were able to witness everyday Romanian country life, which is much different to our own! A huge difference I found was not only the standard of living, but also the countryside itself. Just the landscape was something I found very intriguing, as it was not typically as colourful and green as other places. The bus we were on travelled through all sorts of terrain, ranging from marshes, grey fields, and even a few dry mountains. It was a huge change to the lush green nature of Munich’s English Garden! As my friend took the time to catch up on some much-needed sleep, I spent the journey silently studying the people who got on and off the bus, to which I did a lot of comparing to what I know. I must say it was very refreshing to see so many different things, and it forced me to open my eyes and realize that there are many differences in living all around the world.

Jasmine in an old alley in Sibiu old town.

A picture of me in one of the allies in Sibiu’s old town!

We arrived in Sibiu around noon and decided to first head to our Airbnb to drop off our things before going to explore the city and then picking up our other friend who was arriving later that afternoon.

We arrived at the Airbnb and met the very nice lady who owns it, who was able to tell us all the must visit locations in the small old town. After a few minor issues, mainly me accidentally locking myself in the small bathroom, we were out and about enjoying the beautiful city.

The main square of Sibiu with the sun shining on the ornate buildings.

The main square of Sibiu!

We met our friend late afternoon, who was equally excited as us about being in Romania and ended up going for the most cultural meal experience I think I’ve ever had. It was in an underground little alcove, with a live traditional band and very traditional food. Trip Advisor did us well with this one!

The next morning, we rose early to catch one of the first trains to Brasov, the city of Count Dracula! After experiencing a local Romania bus, we thought that we had witnessed it all, but we were very wrong, as our train experience was a very confusing one! The fact that everything was in Romanian, and that neither of the three of us could understand nor speak Romanian, made it just a little difficult to figure out exactly what platform the train was supposed to arrive on! We ended up running from platform to platform, trying to find anyone who could speak English and help us find where we need to go. We ended up finding a lady who happened to be taking the same train as us, but this was after 15 minutes of frantically running across, not below, but across the train tracks trying to find this train. We made it in the end, and then we had a three-hour ride to our next destination.

the rooftops of the city as seen from the top of the church tower.

The old church we went in had a tower which we were able to climb and get a lovely view of the entire city! The climb up was a bit scary, as we had to use a lamp to be able to see where we were going, but for a view like this it was definitely worth it!

We arrived in the pouring rain, and immediately ran to the taxi station, as we were desperate for food, and taxis in Romania were unbelievably cheap. After some food, we decided to head straight to Bran Castle, the famous Transylvanian Count Dracula castle.

We headed back into centre town after our castle visit and decided to explore the big city a bit more. In my opinion it was one of my least favourite cities, just because of how loud and noticeably dirty it was compared to the previous city, Sibiu. It also might have been because of the continuously rainy weather but who knows! We ended up finding another hill with a viewpoint, which gave us a nice view of the city!

Jasmine and 2 friends in front of Bran Castle

Cold and wet and our entire travel packs on our backs but we made it to Bran Castle, or Castelul Bran and were able to go inside to see where the legends all started!

Due to our unfortunate timing we were not able to see the famous black church, maybe this was because of the spooky stray black cat we came across at the top of the hill? We will never know! We headed to our Airbnb and decided to take a break from the rain.

Jasmine and her friend at a lookout on top of the mountain.

The rain and fog didn’t stop us from scaling this mountain! Also found a very friendly stray black cat on the way up.

Later than night we found another traditional restaurant to go to, and we spent a very long time there. We didn’t realise the time, and it was now pitch-black outside. Luckily, we were walking distance to our Airbnb, so we were in no rush to catch any busses, but we completely forgot about the wild dog issue.

We started to walk up the steep hill to our Airbnb, and came across a small pack of wild dogs, who were not very happy to see us. There were only four of them, but it was enough to set us all on edge. Unsure of what to do, we stopped in our tracks to keep the dogs calm. I tried a step forward to so I can see their reaction, and see if they would let us pass, but they took this as a threat and suddenly began to come closer to us! I grabbed one of my friends, as she was about to take off running, and I knew that that would just make the situation worse, and I instructed my other friend to turn around and start walking back down the hill slowly and calmly. The dogs followed us all the way down, growling and barking, and once we were far enough away, they turned and went back. By now it was past midnight, and we were all very shaken up. We ended up finding another way back, but we were all very nervous as we didn’t know if the dogs would be back. We made it back to our Airbnb and learned our lesson about being out past dark in Romania. I think it makes for a great story though, and even though at the time it was terrifying, it was also the most cultural experience I’ve had so far on my exchange.

We had one day left in Romania, which we decided to spend in a nearby town to Braşov called Sinaia. Sinaia is home to Peles Castle, a very large and very intricately designed castle. We ended up walking up the mountain to the castle, as it was once again a lovely day. We came across a few wild dogs, which made us just a bit anxious due to the previous pack of dogs! Thankfully, they were no threat to us this time. We made it to the castle eventually and had what I believe was one of the best tours I ever had.

Jasmine and her friend wearing blue shoe covers inside the very ornate castle.

We had to wear special shoe covers in the castle, as they wanted to preserve the carpet! As you can see, it is a very intricate castle, and it was a very fascinating tour!

We finished up at the castle and went back down to the main town to look around a bit more. One lost bank card later, we were back at the train station waiting to get back to Braşov! We had found yet another stray cat that I made friends with, and the next day we were on another back to our first stop on our journey. The whole situation with stray cats and dogs is for me a very odd thing, as I am an animal lover and all I want to do when I see a cat or dog come up to me is pet it. Now since these animals were strays, and we don’t know what they may carry, I had to restrain myself from petting them, even though all of the stray cats we came across wanted some love and attention.

Jasmine and her 2 friends outside the Castle grounds.

We found someone to take a group photo of us outside on the castle grounds!

We left to head back to Munich the next day, with all these new experiences fresh in our minds. We didn’t have much time back home though, as we were due to depart on our next journey the following day, heading off to explore Krakow, Poland!

Reflecting back on this journey, I have to say that it really opened my eyes to other ways of living around the world. It was also interesting trying to get around in a completely foreign language, considering that here in Germany I can easily understand everything that is going on! Overall, I loved every part of the trip, and I found that it really made me realize differences in culture and lifestyle!

The next stop in my journey is in Krakow, but I that will come in the next part of my journey!

I hop you are enjoying so far! Till next time 😊

Wednesday, June 12, 2019 in , ,
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