Roaming Around Romania

I realize that I have only had two weeks of school so far, but I can’t help but look forward to the weekends. Usually the highlight of my weekend would be binge watching the office or getting ice cream, but this past weekend was one for the books. Last Thursday my study abroad group hopped on a train at 5:00am and went to Transylvania, Romania for four days. My knowledge about Romania before the trip was limited to the topic of vampires. But growing up in vampire territory (Washington State) I managed to survive the trip to tell the tale.

The first night we stayed at a bed breakfast, I like to call it a bread and breadfast. I think I ate a record number of carbs while in Romania. The first night we had an amazing three course dinner with matzo ball soup and pork with rice (bread with every course), but the dessert was life changing. The waitress brought a plate of these little fried dough balls covered in rosehip sauce to our table. We had no clue what we were getting into, but with one bite it was clear that these little donuts were actually nectar of the gods.


The next day we ventured over to Salina Turda, a Romanian salt mine. This was by far one of the coolest salt mines I have seen (definitely in my top five)! Walking through a dark narrow salt corridor for what seemed like a mile, I was expecting it to be a boring historical tour through the mine. I couldn’t be more wrong. Inside the mine was a bowling alley, playground, ferris wheel, pool tables, and an underground lake of water that we got to paddle around in! I realize that this is hard to picture, so I suggest googling “Romanian Salt Mine”. There was also an echo chamber that you could yell into and hear your voice repeated 16 times! The echo chamber was also where batman’s lair was set in The Dark Knight Rises. Romania is too cool!

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After a long day of exploring salt mines and whatnot, we all settled into the next bed and breakfast, where we stayed the second and third night. Walking up to the bed and breakfast entrance, I thought I was walking into a dream. It was the cutest home, with a huge yard, surrounded by mountains. And once again, the food was killer! We had stuffed cabbage with bread (I tried to limit myself to one slice of per course..). I also experienced Palinka for the first time! What is Palinka, you ask? Palinka is an Eastern European brandy (originated in Hungary). It is very strong, and the taste is foul. However the locals consider it rude to decline a shot before every meal. So cheers or as they say, egészségedre.


The highlight of my Romanian adventure was on the last full day. Back home during the few sunny days in Washington State there is only one thing that I want to do, and that is hike! Therefore, when we took a group hike in the Transylvanian country side, I was real happy. The weather was beautiful, the company was constantly laughing, and we were hiking up to castle ruins- doesn’t get much better than that. From the castle, the view was incredible, rolling hills left and right, a mountain across the way, farms everywhere! (check out this rad virtual tour)

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This whole trip to Romania felt like I was on a different planet. Life there is so much simpler than the busyness of Seattle and Budapest. It was so nice to take a break from go go go and take a look around at this beautiful world that we live in. I am also especially thankful for such cool people to travel with and share this crazy cool experience with! I can’t believe I have already been gone for over a month, time is sure flyin’ by!


Amy Brandt is a student at Western Washington University currently studying abroad with API in Budapest, Hungary

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