Storks at Dusk

Day 3. 16 July 2005

Saturday. I might be on holiday in Romania, but I still remember that today is still the day when Harry Potter Book Six is released. I know that I won’t have much time for reading over the next week or so, but what if one of the other’s brings a copy with them? I wonder if I can find a copy in Timisoara…?

Following breakfast in the hotel I take myself for a walk along the river through some nice parks and gardens. Then to the bank to replenish my funds before I leave later for the mountains. I find a cafe in the square and do a spot of postcard writing when Tom texts me to find out if I want to meet up with him and Jennifer  and show them the town? That sounds like a plan and we arrange a time.

Returning to my hotel I check out and stow my bags at reception until later, then retrace my steps to the English bookshop I had scouted out earlier. Yes, they do have the new Harry Potter albeit only with the adult cover which annoys my OCD of completeness. I also deliberate as I try to work through pretty complex mathematics of exchange rates from old to new Romanian currency to British pounds … and decides it’s actually no more expensive. I buy it.

I then wanderred back to the pata Henrich and sit and read and write and watch the world goes by until I return to the hotel  for 1.30 and settle myself in a leather arm chair in the reception area. I puzzle for a moment over the three hour time difference between Timisoara and the ‘London’ clock on the wall until I realise that it is still set to GMT. I am suddenly aware that Tom and Jenniver have crept up.

The sightseeing tour is hot. It also involves food at a burger place before retreating across town to the cathedral and a chance to bask in the coolness within. We wander through the park and along by the river before heading back up past the opera house to the Piata Unrigh for ice cream – 48,000 leu for four scoops topped with cream and sauce! As we are thinking of getting drinks, Adrian turns up and joins us.

At 5 o’clock we head back to the hotel and collect my bags before heading down to th station to collect Neil. I take the ‘opportunity’ to take a trip down into the bowels of the station cellar (no pun intended) to pay 10,000 leu to e given a measured amount of toilet paper, have a bar pulled back and allowed through into the toilet.

Waiting on the steps at the front of the station for Neil we drink water from mineral water bottles that inspire me for the ‘blue’ photography challenge that I have been set. Neil finds us eventually and we set off ofor the airport. Police are swarming around the terminal building as they await the arrival of the Brazillian football team of 1984 to arrive for that night’s game.

Joe finds us almost immediately  and we wait for Jessica and Kathryn to be allowed off their plane – apparently they are on the same flight as the Brazillian football team. Whilst we wait, Adrian tells us about the “reconstruction” ofthe the first ever aeroplane that graces the entrance to the terminal. It’s a wicker chair on a scaffold construction with engine and fuel tank and a lattice work of wires: Traian Vuia out did the Wright Brothers.

Jess and Kathryn come and find us eventually after waiting outside the wrong arrival gate. Without further ado, we head off out of the city, driving straight into the mountains on cracked and rutted roads. It seems that in Romanian all cars have massive cracks in their windscreens. There are storks nests on telegraph poles and on almost every chimney stacks.

We have an unscheduled break for a flat tyre and have to resort to borrowing a jack from a passing lorry driver. Then we are on our way again. The roads, as ever, are at times good, at times under bumpy, and at times simply under construction and impossibly narrow.

At around 10.30pm we arrive at our motel. Slinging our bags in our rooms we head back down to the outdoor dining area for a late supper of cold meats and cheese and chat into the night before retiring to our rooms for our first night’s sleep in the Retzat mountains.

Day 4: Thunderstorms, leisurely walks, and hawks and pigeons…