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Handsomeness, ugliness and groovy tunes in Transylvania.

Written on: Friday August 17th, 2012

A journal entry from: November 2011 until...

A fair bit to say since my last entry.

I crossed the border into Romania, and thankfully I didn't have any issues with my passport not having an entry stamp into Moldova.

On my first day in Romania I witnessed some stunning beauty and ugliness.

Travelling quickly west across the country to Alba Iulia and the fantasticly cool Dark Bombastic Night festival (more on that below), I was surprised by the amount of forest that covers the country. But that wasn't the most surprising thing I saw on the bus.

Sitting just ahead of me in on the 7 hour trip from Iasi to Targu Mures was a staggeringly handsome man (no photos, sorry). I won't bother to describe how he looked, it would diminsh things somehow. Suffice to say that everyone on the bus was captivated by him. And he was charming and chatty. I couldn't understand a word he was saying, but everyone else could. Twice on the journey young ladies got on the bus and sat beside him, passing by a vacant double seat to do so. In both cases, they were at first shy, blushing even, but they soon got chatting and when they got off they waved demurely at him. Then a girl from the back of the bus left her seat to go and sit near him. Maybe he was famous. After she got off the bus an older man also went to chat and bask in his presence. It was astonishing to see - he gladly made time for each of his disciples. 

So that was nice.

What was not nice was what I saw in Targu Mures, where I spent the night en route to Alba Iulia. 

It was late when I arrived so after checking in to my hotel I went out for a bite to eat at the station. I noticed what I assumed to be an extended family group of about eight people sitting outside one of the eateries. If I had to guess I would have thought that someone had just arrived by train and everyone was catching up - they seemed in a fairly good mood.

A small boy - perhaps 7 years old - approached the group begging, not too insistently. One of the men, perhaps in his late 40s leant forward as if to give him money and spat in his face. The boy reeled away. But that wasn't the worst of it. The reaction of the group was to laugh uproariously, encouraging the man to continue spitting at the boy. There were police not 20 metres away studiously ignoring what was happening. By myself, at close to midnight, in a strange town, considering that I didn't speak the language and that I knew the police's attitude, there was little I could do.

But onto brigher note.

I found out about the event serendipitously; as I was planning out my Romanian travel in Moldova, Pete posted on facebook about Alcest and Unholy playing in Transylvania. I looked it up online, bought a tent and left at 6 the following morning.

The event itself was small, intimate and very chilled out. The bands usually sat around before/after their sets watching the other bands - and were happy to chat. The first night had the heavier bands and the second was more ambient. My favs were Alcest - who were magnificent, :Of the Wand and the Moon: (the colons are part of the band's name) and perhaps Theodor Bastard, who made me check Dead Can Dance's website once again to see if they had posted tour dates for the Australia leg of their world tour.

The campsite (less than $4 for the weekend) was within sight of the stage, the food was fantastic and there were plenty of interesting folk to talk to. Happy days.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention - the fortress that the moat was part of was enormous - one of the biggest of its type - it now hosts a university, museums and loads of reconstructed fortressy goodness.