A Tournament of Sibling Rivalry

Day: 134

Cities / Towns Visited: 70

Countries Visited: 19

Steps Taken Today: 10,602

Steps Taken Around the World: 2,343,367

After a brief sleep in, we were soon out of bed, checking out, stowing our luggage, and meeting my brother and his friend, as promised, in the foyer of the hotel. Now with a day of medieval fun to cram into just a few hours, we decided it best to find sustenance first, and what’s more medieval than pineapple crepes for breakfast. If course the answer is, literally anything is probably more medieval than that, given that only the rich back then could even afford to buy a pineapple and they usually didn’t even eat them, they just put them out as table centrepieces to show off their wealth, but anyway. Regardless, we arrived at the crepe stand just as it was opening and sat down to enjoy our less than healthy first meal for the day.

I was a little sad to discover that there wasn’t just pineapple in the crepes, but also Nutella. Now I can honestly say I’ve never understood the world’s bizarre obsession with the spread, even as a kid we never had it at our house nor did I even enjoy eating it at my friends houses. They spruik it as healthy because it had hazelnut in it, but I don’t know how any parent reconciles feeding their kid sugar filled chocolate spread for breakfast on a regular basis. I’d take praline paste over Nutella any day of the week, and to be completely truthful, I actually prefer hazelnuts in savoury dishes, but maybe that’s just me. Despite the fact, we quickly wolfed down our meal and were soon on our way.

Our first stop was the archery range, as we were eager to have a go, and as my brother and his friend are filming much of their bicycling adventure, they wanted some footage of the fun. Thus with gimbled camera at the ready my brother, his friend, and I all took our shots. As I had been talking to my brother as we waited about the archery we did whilst in Norway, the guys running the range took it upon themselves to hand me one of their proper wooden bows, not the easier plastic bows they were giving the kids and adults just coming for a try. It was the first time I’d used a bow that doesn’t have an arrow rest and it took a couple of shots to get used to that, and also the fact that the bows tensile strength was a lot more than I’ve tried before. Unsurprisingly I’m much more accurate with a less difficult bow. My brother did quite well with the plastic one, and by the end was confidently calling himself Steven Robin’hood’son, to be met with much eye rolling on my behalf.

With enough arrows flung at haystacks, we took the opportunity to move on up the hill until we reached the large collection of medieval weapons on display, and free to be handled. It was with much laughter and ridiculous poses that we spent the next half hour or so. My brother and I jokingly reminisced on the time when we were little and I yelled ‘This is my axe!’ and threw a wooden ruler at him, only for it to accidentally hit him square in the face and give him a black eye. Not quite so funny at the time with mum yelling at us obviously, but a rather amusing story as adults in Romania, holding up actual axes. We are also both avid video game enthusiasts, especially first player games where you get to wield old weapons, so this exercise was doubly as fun. We actually managed to get a decent photo of the two of us together, which given our dislike of being photographed is somewhat of a miracle, and something that probably hasn’t occurred since we were children. Spoiling the party though, the heavens decided to open, leaving the knight dressed workers scampering to gather up the weapons, and us scampering under a tiny shade above a random door nearby.

The rain didn’t seem to be letting up, and we were considering making a mad dash for it when two medieval costume clad men passed between us and through the door. We hadn’t even realised it, but we were inadvertently perched out the front of a bar. Seizing the stroke of luck, we ducked inside to discover that they also had pool tables. There was nothing else for it, the weather was preventing more medieval escapades, and thus we were left with but one choice, buy drinks and an hour worth of pool, and have an improptu tournament. Now as you already know, my partner and I have dubbed our adventures ‘Return Date Unknown’, and my brother and his friend are running their videos and other media under the alias ‘No Fixed Adventure’, thus we were about to embark on the first international annual pool competition between the two teams.

It’s at this point its important to point out the fact that I am God awful at pool, and it’s debatable whether I get better or worse with the addition of alcohol. Luckily for me, my partner is much better at it, and my brother was in the same situation with his friend claiming no skills in the endeavour. The first game ended with us winning, right up until the white ball followed the black into the pocket. Score one No Fixed Adventure, by default though. More drinks were required before we continued. The second ended with a legitimate win on our behalf, despite a tight game. With the scores even, we went into the final game, another round of drinks at the ready. Things were looking grim by the end, with No Fixed Adventure holding the advantage by a number of balls. By this point our hour was up and the light was out above the table, but we were determined to finish. That’s when it happened. They managed to accidentally pot the white whilst trying to sink the black. We won back that lost first point and came out with the win. Success for Return Date Unknown, and now they would have to wait until our next overseas encounter to try and reclaim the title.

Time was getting away from us and we had a train to catch, thus we resurfaced back into the middle ages. Our trip back to the hotel was naturally halted a few times, once to get by brother’s friend shamelessly dressed up in full chain mail armour and a helmet, and have her play fight one of the ‘knights’; and the second pause was understandably to get ice cream, and have my brothers friend’s face painted like a princess. We are all adults after all.

Frivolities complete, we bid our final farewells to the No Fixed Adventure team. It wasn’t too sad though, we would be seeing them again in another three months when they finally reach Italy at the end of their insane bicycling adventure. With that, we hurried off to the train, and before long we were stepping off in yet another medieval old town; Sibiu. Finding our Airbnb proved simple enough, and with groceries soon acquired we settled in for a quiet night.

I smiled as I lay in bed and thought about the carefree fun we had filled our day with. Life is often so serious, and so stressful, that we often forget how important it is to make time for our inner children, especially in the company of people who actually knew you when you were a child. There’s something special about reliving moments of your childhood with your siblings; the people who were there through all of the good and the bad of growing up. The people you gleefully opened your Christmas presents with and shared them like it was a joint gift; the people who ranted with you about your parents in your angsty teen years, like you were an army against a common enemy; the people who know why you are the way you are, because the same hard times shaped their personalities the very same way. I have many special childhood memories that only an older brother can bestow upon his little sister; him teaching me to ride a bike because our mum’s too much of a control freak to be an effective mentor; him constantly jumping out of dark corners in the house to scare the absolute crap out of me; us playing Barbies and Power Rangers as kids together in equal measure; way too many hours wasted playing Golden Eye on the Nintendo 64, or front yard cricket in the summer. With one weekend at mum’s and the next at dad’s, we spent more time together than with anyone else, and we weathered the storm of a broken family, and the tension of two Christmases, side by side.

As light-hearted as most of these long distant memories are, it’s many of the adult memories which mean just as much to me; like the time he came and helped me move in the spur of that moment because I was living in a toxic environment and needed to leave. Not only did he pick me up, but he then let me live in his garage for a year and a half, before I moved into the house for another year after one of his housemates left. Or the time we, and one of the house mates, went running through the sprinklers of the local sports oval in the middle of a hot summers night just because we were there when they turned on. Or when he was going through a hard time, after he left an equally toxic work environment even though it was partially his brainchild of a business, and we sat at my dining table drinking late into the night while he vented, and we talked of the future to remind him that he had a bright one. Good and bad we have continued to make comforting memories year after year, and for this I am extremely grateful. Its nice to know you always have somewhere soft to land, no matter what life throws at you; even if that place is on each others apartment floors for whatever required length of time. Now, today, I can happily add this memory to the top of the box, this time when we are finally both living our dreams, both happy, and can share that joy together. It’s difficult to find people who stay by your side through the hard times in a world full of fair-weather people, family or not, and there is something special about being able to share the good times with them too when the clouds finally clear.

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On my dream trip to travel the world, taste its foods, see its wonders, and meet all the strange and beautiful people who reside here.

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