And I say Romania is my country: Plains to mountains – 305 km (total: 3.911 km)

And I say Romania is my country: Plains to mountains – 305 km (total: 3.911 km)

The latest from The World Photo Tour is here with Romanian stuff, covering the walk from crossing into Romania from Hungary, then to Cenad, Arad, Timișoara, Caransebeș, Oțelu Roșu and Râu de Mori. Either look it up on the map or just imagine it’s from plains to mountains. Or just look at the pictures. ;)

So, back in the country I was born in, having fiddled my way to a new beginning in the UK. Back here after just short of two years. Bună ziua, România! Mixed feelings here. Daydreaming about the glorious mountains already, but having to go through boring plains until. So I chose the country-side option first. An uncle, brother of my father, lives immediately after the border. Check-in arranged. Don’t mind the poverty, mind the people. Pretty diverse, by the way, with Romanians, Serbians and Hungarians sharing villages and life together. So tune yourself in, feast yourself out, catch up with everything. Funny trying to reconnect and actually go through the process of finding out how your country really is after seeing quite a few.

The relatives were great! And upon leaving, Iad to cross Mureș River by some kind of rudimentary ferry-boat. The guy didn’t even want my money. Later, arriving in Arad, I finally got the chance to buy a Romanian phone SIM card. And whadja know, Sorin, the Orange Shop guy, paid the 10 euros. Thank you guys! Thank you, karma! With that kind of boost it was then time for Timișoara, seeing a friend, filling in some blanks. You know, that kind of friend you could not see or even talk to for years but when you see each other again, you just jump into a conversation like you were picking it up from where you left it at the phone minutes earlier. Well, at least I wish. The ultimate bad-ass good guy. :) And meeting with Sile and seeing his way and a bit of his life made my longing after bits from different possible futures even worse. Shake it out or swallow it in, but keep walking then!

Leaving Timișoara for Caransebeș and from there on up to Retezat Mountains, with a stop in Oțelu Roșu. Other relatives here. :) Parents of Eduard and Amalia Popa. Nice folks, really nice. With their help I decided the route to choose so I could find myself atop the mountains. And I could not have chosen better, to be seen in the next episode. The reason why this was of great importance back then is the fact that I just entered Romania amidst intense debate on all media channels about the bears situation. A week prior to my arrival two people were killed in bear attacks. Even thinking the mountains I was about to enter were more wild and hoping the bears would not be that ‘bold’ as the ones that fear people no more, I still chose the safest route, going to enter Retezat National Park from Râu de Mori instead of choosing a direct route from Poiana Mărului onwards. But until then, rest time it was!

Aunt Rozmarin made the best cakes I had on this road so far, while uncle Ion ensured there was enough for me to drink. For it is like that when being a guest in Romania. ‘All you can eat’ gets along really well with ‘all you can drink’ and, of course, everything to talk about. Remembered that all over again at the other family meeting in Oțelu Roșu, courtesy of aunt Ani, uncle Ghiță and their daughter Lissette. Chop-chop & noroc!

After such fine treatment it was time to loose some weight. Actually gained a couple of pounds in three days there! So back on the road with the very last bit until the mountains. Had my ‘bear defence’, including a secret guardian angel not shown here, had my spirit up, had my backpack on – I must say, when I stop for longer, as in days, I even have trouble walking without it and actually feel more in equilibrium having the 25 kilos with me. I don’t know, I just step stronger like that. :)

So all that plus a wonderful day in Hațeg ensured for a fine walking experience. No more crazy heat, no more money problems (the family was beyond generosity!), everything should have been fine. And when finally in Sarmizegetusa, I drank as the Romanians should do around these places, paying my humble tribute both to the local name and my thirst. And it was there and then when fear came in big time. Not that I am not thinking about stopping every single day, but still go on regardless of what people think or say and even regardless of me at points, regardless physical pain gets intense or the one in the soul gets crazy, but something else, having to do with gaining a lot while loosing a lot. At points it feels like gaining the world and loosing my soul. Fragile equilibrium there, but strapping the backpack on again, after finishing that beer, gave me stone strong confidence. And the proud feeling of knowing that I walked so much, being supported by a handful of people at points, knowing I came so far with so little, that is goddamn amazing. Enjoy this ride. To the mountains, I say!

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