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July 2012

Romania bound...   (published in Romania)

July 30, 2012 by   Comments(1)

I now have 2 days till take off - Brisbane to Brasov.... it sounds like a stage of Tour De France... but much much longer without bicycles and France for that matter...

I can't imagine what it will be like in Romania. Although I've read books, watched films, talked with Romanian people and read my Lonely Planet it's still surreal that in a few days I'll be living it. 

What a challenging and amazing month ahead. I'm really looking forward to getting to know local people and learning so much more about Romanian history and lifestyle. I have to admit that until only months ago I had no idea of the depth of the atrocities that happened in the country.

I know that I am going to Brasov to share my skills in theatre and festival management but I cannot wait to learn new skills from the young people I'm working with and share conversation (sometimes broken) with as many local people as possible... I really can't wait to be emersed in a new culture. What an incredible opportunity... and it's finally days away.

Eek! Here I come. Romaniaaaaaa!

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Romania bound...https://www.mytripblog.org/pg/blog/bnewall/read/227938/romania-bound
Romania bound...
 

End of the first week   (published in Romania)

July 27, 2012 by   Comments(8)

Well... i can't say its been easy as such. Let's start with the positives.  My host family are lovely, extremely welcoming and friendly and are feeding me up, just like Emma and Karl!!  I have got a bus pass now so it's easier in theory for me in travel about, however it doesn't account for the fact that i still haven't got the foggyest idea where i'm actually going...not helped by the fact that there are hundreds of little roads which all look the same!!! I have in under good authority though that the 'number 5' will pretty much get me home...

Work is good, the centre is how i imagined it would be but that hasn't made it any less challenging particularly emotionally.  The comparisons between expections and faciities here and the UK is endless which is probably what i'm finding the hardest.  I hoping that staff will see good practice from me once they know and trust me better.

I being very brave and trying all manner of new foods...partly becase i can't read Romanian and have been shocked to discover i can now tolerate tomatoes!! I know!!!!!!!!  I also now appreciate drinking tap water SOOO much more, i drove my host family to get water on the second day, but due to a language barrier misunderstood that i would actually be driving up a mountain to get water from a fresh water spring pipe! And driving in generally is a whole other issue....

Anyway, i will update next week, please keep praying for me and thinking of you all xxxxxxx

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End of the first weekhttps://www.mytripblog.org/pg/blog/kburgis/read/227347/end-of-the-first-week
End of the first week
 

I'm off!!   (published in Romania)

July 23, 2012 by   Comments(1)

  Bye guys, see you in a month!!  Have dragged Emma's butt out of bed, looking rather be-dragled and now going to airport!!

Will try to update this as much as possible with photos etc when i can.   Please keep praying....  I know He is with me 

K xxxx

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I'm off!!https://www.mytripblog.org/pg/blog/kburgis/read/226404/im-off
I'm off!!
 

Little bit of Cardio: A Trip to Romania's Real Dracula Castle (written by Andrew Jones, Current journalism volunteer)   (published in Romania)

July 12, 2012 by   Comments(0)

Around stair 1,000, I seriously consider giving up, if only for a brief moment. I’ve been climbing for what seems like an eternity. I try to think back; how long have I been climbing? 20 minutes? 30? No, surely longer than that. Not that it matters; my legs are rapidly turning to jelly, I can no longer see the ground, and there is no end in sight. Sighing, I shoulder my too-heavy backpack and decide the only way to go is up. I’ve made it this far, there’s no sense in going back now.

                I am visiting (or at least attempting to visit) Poenari Castle, and to reach it one must climb 1,480 steps. Located on a looming cliff next to the Transfagarasan road in Arges County, Poenari is the authentic cousin of the more famous Bran Castle, commonly marketed as the “Dracula castle”. It is Poenari, however, not Bran, that can be considered the authentic “Dracula castle”. Poenari was the fortress of the real historical figure VladTepes, Voivode of Wallachia and the historical basis for the fictional character in Bram Stoker’s novel. Known as “the Impaler” for his notorious cruelty towards his foes, Vlad used Poenari as one of his main citadels while fighting off the Turkish invaders of the Ottoman Empire.

                As I continue my climb, a thought occurs to me. If it is so difficult for me, with my moderately uncomfortable backpack, to reach this summit, how did the original builders manage to drag massive stones and building equipment up this steep mountainside hundreds of years ago? While the stairs are not ideal (there are gaps in a couple of places and the wobbly handrails leave something to be desired), at least they are there. The original builders would have had no stairs assisting them up the mountainside, and certainly no handrails to hold on to. Of course the medieval Wallachians were most likely in much better physical shape than I, used to my modern comforts, but as some of my companions jokingly suggest the castle must have been built with vampire magic, I can’t help but be puzzled and even a little disconcerted at how this impressive fortress came to be at the top of this mountain.

                Well, perhaps not that impressive anymore. As I finally reach the summit, I discover the reason that Bran Castle is by far the more popular tourist attraction, despite its lack of authenticity. Poenari has been in ruins for centuries, first bombarded by the cannons of Ottoman Sultan Mehmet II Fatih, abandoned soon after, and then further damaged by a landslide in 1888. The citadel itself is a shadow of what it once must have been, a pile of rocks where once stood a mighty fortress. A little bit of medieval Wallachian kitsch awaits us at the top: two mannequins impaled on spikes, complete with fake blood, as well as a collection of replica torture and execution devices. Although I try to laugh it off, one can’t help but be a little concerned by the presence of the impaled “corpses”, a grisly reminder of what this place once must have been like.

                Any disappointment at the state of the fortress itself is quickly wiped out when one takes a look at the view from the precipice. Located in the foothills of the Fagaras Mountains, wild Wallachia stretches out before you as you look out from the parapet of the citadel. Far below, the thin grey ribbon of the Transfagarasan road and the adjacent hydroelectric plant seem like distant reminders of the modern age, as the romantic but forbidding medieval land of Wallachia seems much closer at hand. Forested hills and mountains, some even capped with a bit of snow during this hot summer, stretch for as far as the eye can see. Bram Stoker’s mysterious count seems closer than ever.

                Of course, Stoker himself had no idea Poenari even existed. He had imagined an entirely different location for his Dracula’s castle, hundreds of kilometers away in northern Transylvania. Poenari holds much more for those interested in VladTepes and the history of the region than for those interested in vampires. The latter would be better off visiting the much more romantic Bran. As I explore the castle, however, I find the grisly mood of the place only enhanced by its authenticity. I discover a deep pit, once used as a dungeon for holding prisoners, though now filled with coins instead of captives. I can’t imagine tossing a coin for good luck into a pit once occupied by men waiting to be tortured and impaled. As one of my companions scrambles up the wall to get a better view, I can’t help but be reminded of the legend of VladTepes’s wife, who supposedly threw herself from the castle in despair during a siege by the Turkish army.

                As I begin my descent back down the many steps, with one last nervous look back at those bloody mannequins, I am honestly a little relieved. Those interested in history, ghost stories, or the macabre, and not afraid of a little bit of cardio, would do well to pay Poenari Castle a visit. If there is any such thing as a haunted castle, this one is it.

               

               

 

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Little bit of Cardio: A Trip to Romania's Real Dracula Castle (written by Andrew Jones, Current journalism volunteer)https://www.mytripblog.org/pg/blog/romania-social-manager/read/224251/little-bit-of-cardio-a-trip-to-romanias-real-dracula-castle-written-by-andrew-jones-current-journalism-volunteer
Little bit of Cardio: A Trip to Romania's Real Dracula Castle (written by Andrew Jones, Current journalism volunteer)
 

What I Found Along the Way (written by Brooke Murray, current drama volunteer)   (published in Romania)

July 12, 2012 by   Comments(0)

 

Dear reader, I’m going to be honest with you: I get lost a lot. All the time. In Australia, we say “heaps.” I get lost heaps. I’ve gotten lost in small towns with two streets and on really straight beaches. Once, I got lost at a music festival and my friends found me three hours later in a first aid tent, asleep. So, you would probably think that nineteen years into life I am quite able to cope with getting lost, and that in a small city like Brasov, I would be absolutely fine. Not exactly.

It’s Monday and I’ve been in Brasov for almost two weeks. I have to teach a class at eleven so I leave early to make sure I get there on time.  The sun is shining and I try to smile at everyone I pass on the street, because life is good and I am on my way to the best job in the world. I smile as I get on the bus, and I smile at the man sitting across from me. Unfortunately, when I get off the bus I realize I’ve been smiling too much. Nothing looks familiar and it dawns on me that I have gotten off at the wrong stop and I am lost. Again. fortunately for me, a very nice man at the bus shelter speaks English. He points out to me that I have gotten off at the wrong stop and gives me directions, so I make to class on time. 

I did get lost many other times that day, and on many other occasions since then, but I have always found someone to help me. And that’s what impresses me about Brasov – even though I continue to make a mess of very simple commutes, both the locals and the staff here are always very patient, very friendly and very helpful.  I think when you’re in a foreign country, it pays to go off the beaten track a little. On a weekend with some other volunteers in Bucharest, we got lost in an industrial area in torrential rain. I’m sure the others concede that that was a bad experience, however, I do not. Sometimes, as a visitor, you don’t always see the everyday and the mundane in your city, which is a shame, because those things are often the most important and most interesting. What’s more, I feel like getting lost has taught me to rely on myself more, because I usually manage to make it home relatively on time and reasonably in one piece.

So, my advice to you if you’re in Romania now, or in the not too distant future: Get lost! Actually, I shouldn’t say that. But my advice to you would be to explore. The sights and sounds of the old centre are lovely, but take a little time to know your own neighbourhood: it’s people, it’s streets, it’s grocery stores, small things that make it home for so many people. I guarantee, what you find along the way will be interesting, heart-warming and beautiful. 

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What I Found Along the Way (written by Brooke Murray, current drama volunteer)https://www.mytripblog.org/pg/blog/romania-social-manager/read/224197/what-i-found-along-the-way-written-by-brooke-murray-current-drama-volunteer
What I Found Along the Way (written by Brooke Murray, current drama volunteer)