I didn’t have the balls to answer Romanian people honestly when I was asked, what made you travel to Romania? My answer, still honest, “I’ve heard it is a beautiful country!” but it wasn’t the whole story.
Traveling to Morocco and Romania came out of a necessity to leave the Schengen EU region to extend my time on this side of the Atlantic Ocean. I was able to pause my tourist visa that allows me 90 days to be in the EU. My deadline was to be back in the US for a friend’s wedding at the end of May, so essentially I am over here for 4 months rather than only 3 months in Portugal.
I found cheap, direct flights from Lisbon to Marrakesh and Bucharest, and so, Morocco and Romania were the spots.
I don’t have a bucket list of travel spots, there are too many and I am the type of person that is open to travel anywhere. In someway, it felt like these places chose me, each so special for me to further learn about traveling and myself.
Romania is an outdoor enthusiasts dream. There is the Black Sea, bird watching in the Danube Delta, the snow capped Carpathian Mountains, and the rolling green hills of Transylvania. Upon researching where I would travel in Romania, there was a clear line of small mountain towns that led me to the Transylvania region. But traveling solo, I found it a little unrealistic to be able to get further out of the little train stop towns to see the areas I really wanted to experience.
So I joined the website, workaway.info, and I sent an email to a man and his wife offering a place to live and work in the region I was most interested in experiencing, near Sibiu, Romania. He responded that he didn’t have room for me, but his friend was having an event the week I needed accommodations and he may need extra help.
Two quick emails later, I had agreed to spend 8 days working at Villa Abbatis Equestrian Center in Apos, Romania.
Two weeks later, I arrived in Bucharest, and with no follow-up contact with my Romanian contact, I sent him an email confirming my arrival the next day to the Sibiu Train Station at 4pm. I hadn’t heard back from him, and boarded the train.
On a six-hour train ride, one of two options would happen at the end of the ride. One, I would be picked up by my contact, or two, I would be in a region I wanted to explore anyways and would just carry on with a new plan.
I arrived to Sibiu, and there, at the bottom of the train station steps was a man I saw with a similar look of recognition I had seen on blind dates in NYC bars and coffee shops, “Laura?”
Gabriel stood there with two Romanian pastries and a bottle of water.
We hopped in his truck and he drove me to a farm.