Day: 136

Cities / Towns Visited: 71

Countries Visited: 19

Steps Taken Today: 16,744

Steps Taken Around the World: 2,368,414

It was unfortunate that our previous cruisy day was to be undone by an early morning. The train gods are not always the most understanding of beasts, and thus we found ourselves having to rise early in order to catch the only direct train to our next destination, Deva, else be left to take a slower train which would add an extra 90 minutes to our already three hour long journey, or take a direct train in the afternoon which would have us arriving too late for our purposes. Sucking it up, we begrudgingly slid out of bed and made our way to the station, dragging our bags behind us. While bundling into our seats it took everything within me to keep my short morning temper from snapping when a rudely impatient lady shoved past me down the aisle as we were trying to lift our suitcases up onto the racks. It gained her little distance as my partner simply stood in her way and kept putting the bags up before letting her pass. If she’d simply waited a moment she would have passed just as quickly with a lot less animosity. In the only stroke of luck regarding the situation, our Airbnb host was happy for us to check in a little early, and even offered to pick us up from the station.

With the long journey over we found ourselves in our next temporary home, to soon realise that there was no internet connection here, a small fact that we somehow missed when booking, and slightly annoying seeing as we would actually find ourselves with some spare time today which could have been used to finish off some travel planning and accommodation booking. The only solution, despite ourselves, was going to be to stop in at McDonald’s after our adventures for the day, and try and get a little work done on their free WiFi, whilst buying enough of their questionable food to not be asked to leave.

We had a tour lined up the next day, which was the main reason we had made the journey this far out into regional Romania, but, as our streak of poor weather spoiling our planned tours continued, we had found out that due to the rain this country seemed to be having every afternoon almost like clockwork had caused a massive landslip on the road into the forest where the old Dacian Ruins were nestled that we had so hoped to see. My partner in particular was rather devastated by the news, especially after the fact we hadn’t been able to see the Blue Cave in Croatia, or anything from the top of Matterhorn, because of the weather as well. There was nothing for it, and no one to blame, obviously except for every single human contributing to global warming which is most likely the cause of, or at least a contributor to, this unseasonable and almost tropical style daily rain. The tour would go ahead and involve Roman ruins instead, but it was little substitute for our desired location.

Trying our best not to let the news dampen today’s fun, we headed out, stopping at the supermarket and buying a couple of sausages for lunch from the grill our front. From here we made our way to our singular sight, Deva Fortress. This medieval fortification, like so many in this part of the world, and seemingly fashionably for the time, is perched precariously at the top of a rocky cliff, overlooking the town it was built to defend. With dark clouds looming in the distance, and with the aforementioned certainty of afternoon rain, we decided to forgo the hike up the hill and joined the line to catch the tiny funicular which delivers you effortlessly to the summit. Despite the clouds edging nearer, the afternoon was still scorchingly hot, and this became acutely obvious when we were smooshed into the tiny car of the funicular, shoulder to shoulder with a good dozen or so others. Luckily the journey up was brief, and we were soon released back into the now seemingly much cooler air.

The fortress is just as impressive close up, and after admiring its advantageous view over its surrounds, we headed up to enter the walls. This old fort was built in the 1200's, but was added to and improved over the centuries as this area was ruled by different parties; the Hungarians, the Austrians, and the Transylvanians alike. Unluckily it was almost completely destroyed in 1849 when a store of munitions exploded. It lay in ruins for quite some time until they began restoring it relatively recently. The very inner section is still closed off, as it is not safe for visitors yet, but you are able to go into the space between the inner and outer walls. It’s easy to see from the stunning view, why this was such a formidable fortress, with its solid bedrock foundation making it impossible to tunnel into, and its sheer precipice making it almost as difficult to scale up. As we wandered, it was mildly unsettling to see signs warning people not to clamber up the scrub covered areas beside the inner wall as there is apparently a risk of encountering vipers. We kept our distance, but did joke that perhaps the inner courtyard wasn’t shut because of structural issues, but rather because it was teeming with snakes; an amusing but horrifying thought.

There was a chill in the air at this point as the storm drew nearer, but we still took the time pass by the replica bread oven and take the stairs down to the lower curtain wall and watchtowers which dot along the singular road that provides access to the medieval building. After a quick inspection of them we arrived back at the funicular just in time to hop on as it started to drizzle a little.

Alighting the car, it seemed as though perhaps the storm would just miss us, but by the time we made it to McDonald’s, bought a few small snacks, and settled into uploading photos using their free WiFi, it wasn’t long before I looked up to see torrential rain pelting down outside as the unfortunate souls stuck in it ducked under any sparse shelter they could make it to, to avoid the deluge. The rain didn’t let up for some time, so we ended up getting more done than we had expected before the clouds finally ran out of water to douse the town in and drifted off innocently.

Grabbing a few groceries from the supermarket next door, we made our way back to our disconnected apartment, and settled in for an almost alien situation in this day and age; a night without contact with the outside world. Settling in with a home cooked meal and a movie, it was a surprisingly delightful change of pace from our usual frantic rush to try and get things done before we needed to sleep. In a world that is so reliant on its connection to the internet, it leaves us feeling somewhat isolated and lost when we can’t reach everyone we know in a millisecond with a simple click. When that connection is broken it is easy to find yourself wondering what to do to fill the time. We are so unused to sitting quietly anymore, like being alone with our thoughts is a truly terrifying option; so much so that it seemingly only takes a mere blip of time before everyone sitting in a waiting room, or on a train, or in any other idle situation, is reaching for their phones.

Yet, it wasn’t that long ago that we were tetherless. I remember only 15 years ago the most exciting thing you could do on your phone was play Snake, and that hopping on a train or a flight involved packing a novel or a puzzle book to while away the hours. That’s not to say that people aren’t reading or solving puzzles in these situations, even if we have swapped pages for a screen, but let’s be honest, for the most part we’re mindlessly scrolling through social media; we’re not challenging our minds, but instead silently judging people we’ve never met, or situations we’ve never been in; were faking friendships and swapping half-hearted pleasantries with people we haven’t seen in person in years. We’ve become such a vapid society of people, made doubly as depressing when you see two people who have obviously got together to catch up, or go out on a date, and they’re both sitting there on their separate devices, mind a million miles away from the person two feet ahead. In connecting to the wider world, we have inadvertently disconnected from those in front of us. We seem more interested in people we’ve never met, than the people we claim to love. We take our finite time and we squander it. Maybe this oversight in booking was a blessing in disguise, and perhaps it’s something we should all actively do on a regular basis, for it gave us a chance to do something we have been struggling with despite being together every day; being present.

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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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