Probably when we will leave, we will be remembered as “volunteers, who did a lot of challenges”. But really there were so many – book challenge (sorry that there were no follow up on that…let’s just say reading ebooks is not as fun, as physical books), no drinking challenge, hitchhiking challenge, learning to juggle challenge…you get the picture. So, no surprise, that when I was half-jokingly telling Lenka that I wouldn’t survive a week being vegan, she replied “let’s make a challenge!”. And who am I to say no… So, welcome to my experience after being VEGAN FOR A MONTH.

I will split my experience into three parts – before, during and after, so it would be easier for you to follow how my attitude towards veganism changed. Brace yourselves, it’s going to be a loooooong post, so if you’re lazy to read about my ups and downs, just scroll down to read the conclusions.

BEFORE

First of all, let me tell you that I am very open minded about vegan diet. I’ve been vegetarian for a couple of years, then went back to eating meat, but never felt great, so I was planning to go back vegetarian again. I saw some movies about veganism, though they didn’t convert me to vegan overnight. Let’s say I am somewhere in the middle grounds – I don’t believe that we all are lions, our teeth are meant to rip animals flesh apart and our stomachs are the same as other meat-eating carnivores. On the other hand, plant based diet for me always seemed a bit extreme from the health point of view – I mean, I always agreed that it is a way for more ecological life, leaving a smaller negative impact on Earth than other diets, but I thought that being vegetarian is the best balance between being eco-friendly and healthy at the same time.

Talking about my eating habits prior this challenge (or, should I call it an experiment?), they weren’t the worst, but weren’t great either. I was having some problems with my stomach, weird pains, bloating, so I tried to have balanced diet to make it better. While in Romania I was drinking milk only on very rare occasions, maybe once in a couple of months (back in Lithuania I also don’t drink it), wasn’t eating cheese (honestly, no offense, but Lithuanian cheese is so much better than Romanian, that I didn’t even want to buy any…), never cooking meat and eating it only when I am out somewhere.

To be honest, my biggest dietary problem was sweets.

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Yup, this photo represents me quite well…if it has chocolate in it, I love it!

So, I wasn’t quite ready to say “bye” so all amazing non-vegan sweets, but I was trusting Lenka and hoping, that I will survive the challenge…

DURING

1st week – I AM HUNGRY

Let’s start with the fact, that my challenge started when we had a training. So, imagine coffee breaks – everyone is eating waffers and cookies, and here I am, chewing on an apple…hard life! But the hardest part was when we had intercultural night and there were fancy foods from all over the Europe, which I couldn’t eat! Good that I prepared some vegan sweets, in the training there were a couple of vegans as well and they brought vegan chocolate, some foods were “accidentaly vegan”, for example amazing peach jam with bread. So, in the end I wasn’t so sad and hungry as I thought I will be, still I was secretly thinking about that Portuguese cheese on the table…

The week of the training we were being outdoors quite a lot, and in general days and nights were busy. This week probably was the hardest for me – we didn’t have so much time to prepare food, I didn’t knew so many recipes to start with, and I was constantly feeling hungry. Really, I was always nagging “Lenkaaaa, I feel hungry! What should I do?” And, the fact that my friend sent me one of my favorite milk chocolates and I couldn’t eat it didn’t help at all.

Another thing that I noticed on the first week was that I always needed to ask “is this vegan?” and most of the times I had to rephrase it to “does this contain any milk products, meat or eggs?”, because for some people being vegan equals not eating meat. I felt better that I was not the only one asking that, but in everyday life I think that would be quite a hassle (but maybe that would be a good exercise for my social skills?)

2nd week – PLEASE, BE SUPPORTIVE

The second week I realised, how important is to have a good support system when you are trying to change your diet, either it’s going vegan or just trying to eat healthier (imagine your friend munching on a pizza while everything you have is only a salad). If it wasn’t enought that on the first week we had training, second week Tusványos was happening in Baile Tusnad! Imagine, big festival, full of amazing food: pancakes, ice cream, langos, milkshakes… But my heart skipped a beat when I saw my absolutely favorite dessert – kurtos kalacs, filled with Nutella and ice cream, topped with whipped cream and strawberries… “Lenka, I am not sure if I can do it! It’s NUTELLA!” But Lenka was super suportive and was saying that we will make something at home. Lisa, on the other hand… “Oh, you know what I will buy tomorrow in the evening? Kurtos kalacs…” It wasn’t just want time joke, next day it was repeated with “Do you know what will happen today? I will eat it in the evening… You will be sooo jealous…” So, it was just evil! Probably I would have given up then, but Lenka was really motivating and we came up with some ideas how to make our own “festival food” (and to sneak it in the festival, of course!)

Vegn burgers with chickpeas and mushrooms were amazing, I also made some sweets (energy bards from oats, dates and peanut butter), and we found out that even in the festival there is a possibility to find some vegan things – cotton candy and sweet corn. I survived! In the beginning we agreed that challenge will be only for two weeks, but I decided, that it wasn’t THAT hard (ok, only saying no to that kurtos kalacs), and that I should try at least a month before making conclusions if I like it or not.

3rd week – BRING YOUR OWN SNACKS

One of my goals for doing this challenge was to learn some new recipes from Lenka. Some of them she cooked for me (cabbage and peanut butter stew…sounds incredibly weird, but actually was pretty good!), some we cooked together (coconut and chickpeas curry, banana ice cream with peanut butter, vegan pancakes and many more). I was also trying to read about vegan diet on the internet, google some recipes myself, discover new ways to cook (who knew that beans can be a base of an amazing burger!).

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On 3rd week we were travelling to Vama Veche, but now when I think of it, I don’t remeber any problems about being vegan on a trip, and probably because I prepared well – I had at least three different dishes packed for the trip, so I never felt hungry or found myself in a moment where I want to eat but I can’t find anything vegan. So, bringing my own snacks made being vegan so much easier.

One of the funny things that happened on the 3rd week – when we arrived to Constata, me and Lenka went to shop for food. I was waiting outside with Smiley while Lenka was shopping and then we planned to change. When she came out of the shop, expression on her face was telling, that she found something good. “I bought vegan chocolate! For 3 lei!!!” That really sounds amazing, because usually vegan chocolates are aroud 15-20lei (ok, the only exception is black chocolate but…who likes it anyway?) When I asked how many of them she bought, the answer surprised nme (and remember, I told you, I am obsessed with chocolate!) Lenka had 5 big chocolates in her bag! So, we spent that weekend enjoying vegan chocolate with rice milk. Honestly, even though the ingredients were way better than the ones of chocolate I usually prefer (Milk is the best…and yes, I know there is more sugar than the actual chocolate!), the taste was just ok. It wasn’t bad, but nothing even close to what I would call “great”.

4th week – THERE’S OTHER FOODS THAN TOFU

In the 4th week I was falling into a routine – oat porridge or cereal with oat milk for the breakfast, pasta or rice with some protein for the lunch, a lot of fruits for the dinner… And, the problem is, that the biggest part of my protein intake was from soya. Grilled tofu, fried tofu, marinated tofu… It tastes amazing, fills me up well and I feel good and not too “heavy” afterwards. But all of us know, that the best way to have a healthy diet is to have more variety. So, i tried exploring different dishes, added more legumes to my diet, but I can’t say that I found the perfect balance just yet.

AFTER

What did I do on the first day after my vegan challenge ended? You guessed it right, ate a chocolate. All of it. 100 grams of sugar, fat and a tiny bit of actual cocoa. Was it nice? Yes. Did I want to repeat it? To my surprise, not so much. It’s been 4 days after my challenge ended and since then I ate 1 pizza (after it my stomach was super upset and it hurt all evening), 1 chocolate, 1 langos (actually, before my challenge ended Lenka made me a vegan version…surprisingly, I liked it more than the original!) and a pack of Belgian waffles.

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(Just showing off vegan langos. Ain’t it pretty?)

Everything else I ate was still vegan. Am I going to stay vegan? Most likely, not. Did this challenge showed me that vegan life doesn’t have to be sad and boring? Definitely yes.

CONCLUSIONS

I don’t want to make a list of pros and cons – after all, I am not a dietary specialist, so I can speak only from my experience. That’s why I want to share the main points I discovered during this month.

  • It’s easier to vegan when others are supporting you.
  • It’s important to always have snacks – when you know that you have tasty and healthy bar in your bag it’s easier to say no to this tempting discount for Snickers.
  • Cooking at home is the key. This way food is always tasty, you know what you are eating, and you’re spending less.
  • Meeting other vegans feels great. Especially when you can share food with each other.
  • Eating too many fruits can be a thing. Lenka doesn’t agree with me on that, but I noticed that I am eating SO MANY fruits to compensate the craving for something sweet. If I would be staying vegan, I would definitely try to use more vegetables than fruits.
  • Grains+greens+protein is a perfect combination. This way you can create endless simple dishes and eat more or less balanced meal.
  • It’s important to pay attention to what you’re eating, if needed – use some supplements. Again, if I were to go vegan for long term, I would probably consult my doctor or go to dietitian – just to make sure that I am getting everything that I need with my food.
  • Best thing about being vegan – no worries about the cake being not baked well – it doesn’t have any eggs, so no problem! Also you can taste everything before cooking, when it doesn’t have any meat products or eggs, there are no problems about eating it raw.
  • If in the party there are normal snacks and vegan snacks, everyone (including meat eaters) will eat vegan ones!

It’s been an interesting journey, huge thanks for Lenka for guiding me through this, I am really happy I learned a lot of things that will be useful for me even though if in the end I will choose a different lifestyle.

When me and Lenka were in Dakini, everyone kept telling us, that we should visit Vama Veche and that is one of the nicest places in Romania’s seaside – everyone seemed to have some nostalgic memories about it – going there as a child with the family, later in teenage years going with friends, finding first love or having first heartbreak, later after some years coming back with their own kids… So it seems to be a pretty special place for a lot of Romanians! When we got a chance, me, Lenka and Lisa decided to travel to the seaside, together with our friend Mihai (I told you, friendships from the training do last!). Instead of taking the train we decided to hitchhike, as usual. Our plan was to get to Bucharest, meet Mihai and next day go together to the seaside. To make things more difficult, we were carrying a tent, our bags and Smiley. So, not so many chances that a car would stop for us, but defying all the odds we had a great trip – some wonderful people stopped for us and it took only 2 cars to get to Bucharest!

In Bucharest we planned to meet Mihai, but accidentaly got lost in a biiig park, and the storm started…we were lucky because some lovely people from a fancy restaurant invited us, although we couldn’t enter inside with a dog, they took chairs for us outside, let us sit under the roof where there is no rain, offered us drinks and even water for Smiley…I can’t tell you how much I appreciate Romanian hospitality!

And we got to experience more of that, because when we finally met Mihai and reached his home, we were greeting by his grandmother who offered us food, and Mihai made us feel like at home. And, he has two cutest cats in the world, so I felt like in cat heaven!

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I have to add, that Smiley also enjoyed the company of cats…though I don’t know if the feelings were mutual.

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So, we spent one night in Bucharest and in the morning we were ready to continue our journey to the seaside. Of course, us being us, we can’t do anything just like that, we need to create crazy challenges and funny things… So, we decided to split into two teams – me with Lenka (+Smiley) and Lisa with Mihai, and have a challenge – whoever first reaches seaside wins, and the loosers have to build the tent and prepare dinner… So, the night before trip we spent creating our team names and strategies. Me, Lenka and Smiley were Freedom Shamans and our plan was to go to a really good hitchhiking place, but far away from where we were staying, Lisa and Mihai called themselves Kookaburras and decided to sleep longer and choose hitchiking spot closer to home.

I won’t go too much into the details, but basically, me and Lenka won! We thought that having Smiley will be a disadvantage, but we met some fun people, who like dogs, so we got very lucky! And we enjoyed an interesting conversation, in which we learned some crazy facts that you could hear only from locals (for example, than in a cemetery in Ploiesti there is a gravestone which looks like a huge dick…apparently, some man wasn’t happy with his wife sleeping around when she was alive, and he decided to give her that gravestone after she died…weird!), and the best places in Vama Veche to buy hippie pants… So, the trip was lovely! Although, Lisa and Mihai arrived so late, that they didn’t get their “punishment” and me and Lenka build the tent…though, I am still hoping for dinner someday!

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The seaside was absolutely lovely, we embraced hippie atmoshpere, slept in the tent, went to party, swam, danced… So, it was amazing 🙂 And on the way home we got incredibly lucky and it took us only one car to get straight to Bucharest (the driver was a great guy who travels a lot, so again, nice conversations, and he even let me to pick the music 🙂 hitchhiking in Romania is awesome, I am going to miss that!). In Bucharest we stayed with couchsurfing, we split and Lenka together with Smiley went to some nice lady, and me and Lisa went to Lithuanian guy, who is doing his internship in Romania, so I even got to speak my mother tongue a bit!

Way home was a little less succesful, we got to Brasov and from there…we just waited, waited and waited. My tip – never hitchhike from Brasov to Baile Tusnad, it’s just a waste of time! We tried that multiple times and always ended up just taking the train, no exception this time as well. So, tired but happy we reached home and now we have our Romanian seaside adventure to remember!

All photos used in this blogpost were taken by Lenka

One thing that we kept hearing since we came here – the most awesome event in Baile Tusnad is Tusványos – music festival, then streets fill with young people, music is so loud that you can’t sleep and party lasts all night long.

We sometimes are joking, that we are the most quiet volunteers in the history of EVS. Really, we don’t drink, we don’t party hard (ok, maybe Anita sometimes does :)) So even though we were waiting for the festival, we imagined it to be pretty quiet. Well, it wasn’t craaazy, but let me tell you, we did party and I have photos as a proof!

First day we went together with our couchsurfer (woohoo, we had first official couchsurfer), she’s Romanian and she was sooo surprised tht no one in the festival spoke Romanian (even at the entrance, where they sell tickets) and she had to use English to communicate (so, if you’re coming to Tusványos next year prepare and learn some Hungarian phrases).

received_323492801435123.jpegOk, so this might be not the best photo, but, strangely enough, we took almost no photos during the festival (probably because we were having great time and chose to rather enjoy it than take photos).

During the days in the festival there were a lot of different activities and workshops. Of course, most of them were in Hungarian as well, but we found some where we could join and me and Lenka spent a couple of days painting…

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Good that official photographers caught us on camera, so I can share a couple of decent pictures:

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And in the evenings we were dancing and enjoying concerts, so not so many pictures of that… Well anyways, i want to share some random moments/thoughts from this year’s festival (I really hope that’s not the last time I visited it!):

  • If you have the right attitude, everything is fun! Me and Lenka really wanted to go to the first row in some random concert. Random, because, anyways we didn’t knew the bands, nor understood the lyrics… But it was so much fun! We were joking that we must’ve seemed like the biggest fans of the group, we were dancing like crazy, clapping, shouting…It was great a time!
  • Everywhere is good, but in the Mezo is the best! Everyone who lives in Baile Tusnad knows, that Mezo is a great place. So no wonder that even in the festival, where there was a lot of different bars, every evening we still ended up in Mezo!
  • If you’re open for a chat, you can meet interesting people! I left for a second, when I came back I found Lenka talking with some random guy. He asked me where I am from, when I replied, that from Lithuania, he unbuttoned his jacket and showed that he’s wearing a tshirt with Lithuania’s flag  – apparently he has been living there for some time and we had an interesting chat about my country. Or, I met some guys that had a tent in our backyard… so, random conversations are fun!
  • It’s possible to party alone and it’s not as sad as it may sound! So it happened that one day no one was feeling like staying longer and I just wanted to dance… So I had two options – go home with everyone, or stay alone. As I mentioned, I am not super social, so staying alone in a festival sounds a little bit intimidated, but I though I might try. And it was pretty fun, I had a lot of conversations, danced and had a great time!
  • If you want to be in the center of attention, buy sugar cotton! I found out that totally by accident, I bought sugar cotton and suddenly everyone started talking to me, asked to take picture together, it was sooo funny and crazy 😀

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So this is my impression about the festival, make sure to visit it next year!

Sometimes when you don’t expect much, great things happen.

Peti told us, that there will be an Erasmus+ training in Baile Tusnad and if we are interested, we can take part in it. Of course we all were interested – meeting new people and learning something new is always great.

Maybe 5 years ago I participated in Youth in action training in Czech Republic, I have some good memories regarding the people I met, but training itself was a bit hectic, so I was expecting something similar – a bit unorganised but fun week with lots of new people. Imagine my surprise, when training turned out to be not only fun, but incredibly motivating and useful! So, let me share what we did and what are my feelings after the training.

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The training was facilitated by two amazing girls from organisation Art Fusion, and there were participants from Italy, Spain, Portugal, Croatia, Romania, Lithuania and Germany. So, me and Lisa got the chance to speak in our mother tongues, Lenka and Anita were the only ones representing Slovakia and Hungary, so they had to continue speaking in English…:)

All the days of the training had different topics, we started with meeting each other, having teambuilding in the nature.

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We continued to discovering our surroundings (well, me and the girls were already familiar with Baile Tusnad, obviously, so we had some different tasks to help others to see different parts of our beautiful town).

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We learned about some practical tools – how to plan activities, how to use earning through experience, etc.

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Later on we used this information in creating our own mini-workshops in the topic of nature.

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The days of the training went by incredibly fast and it was time to part our ways, but I am sure that each of us has learned something. I want to share with you the things that I am taking away from this project.

Practical things

  • Experiential learning cycle: Experience -> Reflection -> Generalisation -> Application. In my opinion this is one of the most useful methods that could be applied to a lot of situations.
  • Teambuilding is a crucial part of working with groups. In this training there was a lot of time and attention for teambuilding and later on group of people from different parts of Europe, with different attitudes and experiences, who met just a couple of days ago, managed to work together and achieve great results (and, not only work, but build friendships, who, hopefully will also last after training). I am sure these great results were partly due to teambuilding acivities.
  • Facilitator is not a lecturer. Of course, I knew that before, but in this training I felt it very strongly – facilitators weren’t “teaching” us about nature, ecology, etc – they were using different methods to create a platform for us, where we can feel free to share our different experiences and learn from each other. I have educational background and I feel that sometimes I fall into this “trap” of wanting to “teach” too actively, so this was a great reminder that sometimes instead of providing all the information for pupils we should challenge them, create such tasks that will motivate them to discover new things by themselves and that will make them more immersed in the subject, than just being passive listeners.

Emotions

  • I was incredibly happy to meet all people who were participating in a project and I felt that I have so much to learn from each and every of them. I hope that our paths will cross again someday.
  • Socializing in free time is as importnt as the training itself. I know I am a teeny tiny bit socially awkward, my perfect evening is watching movies with friends, not going out to a pub with strangers… But, the thing is, that sometimes if you do go out with people that you don’t know that well and genuinely try to get to know them, they might become friends…so, worth the risk! 🙂

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The Training for Nature project is organized by A.R.T. Fusion Associatio Romania and made possible by involvement of the partners as well:
IDA Croatia, Asociacion Prorise partners as Spain, Förderverein Offene Bildung Umwelt Kultur e.V. Germany, Nous Italy, Instituto Politécnico de Viseu Portugal, Asociacija Apkabink Europa Lithuania.

The Training for Nature project is organized with the support of the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union.

Photos used in the blog post were taken by Anita Demeter & girls from Art Fusion.

 

This July in Baile Tusnad there was an annual event – triathlon. We had a chance to see it, be useful by giving water and snacks to participants and enjoy the day! I won’t talk much – I am the opposite of “sporty” person, so the only thing I can say is that I admire all those people who managed to do all three tasks, either in team, or alone! Some moments from the sunny day:

LENKA: When we stop using hair brush.

LENKA: When we use just cold water to shower.

LENKA: When I use the towel in 100 ways.

LENKA: When I used my T-shirt instead of the hat.

LENKA: When we stop using the bra (with or without T-shirt).

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ŽIVILĖ: When the only thing that stops me from joining all the naked hippie people sunbathing in the beach is the thought, that my sunburn can get worse.

LENKA: When we wear as many colors as possible.

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ŽIVILĖ: When I wake up and Lenka has glitter all over her face and she’s like ‘I danced at the psychotrance stage! And I liked it!”

ŽIVILĖ: When we fall asleep in the hammock right next to the dj, who’s blasting chill music. Sleep is chill, right?

LENKA: When the sun rises at 5.25, I don’t hear my alarm clock and wake up at 5.32 and I take a picture of aaaalmost sunrise. And when I do wake up on the time, it’s fog everywhere!

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BOTH: When both are so little money that we have shared budget. (Don´t take it. 2 lei is too expensive!)

LENKA: When we accept everyone.

LENKA: When we eat our watermelon next the toilet shop.

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LENKA: When we cook pasta in the middle of the park in Bucharest.

BOTH: When we find our hippie dog, she follows us around for a bit and we’re seriously considering calling her Dakini (at least for a surname) and adopting her.

ŽIVILĖ: When we meet other hitchhikers, going the same direction and we exchange friendly waves and drivers that are passing us are showing thumbs up. 

BOTH: When hitchhiking got boring, we started playing ukulele and some nice people stopped, apparently they had a guitar, so music connected us!

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ŽIVILĖ: When we drag 5l of water for 3 km because it’s a couple of lei cheaper.

LENKA: When we go to buy the lemonade, spend half an hour choosing the best and cheapest and on the end we don`t buy any, because it is too luxurious.

ŽIVILĖ: When we look so poor that lovely people who stops to give us a lift offers us food and to buy us tickets home.

BOTH: When we try to organise EVS volunteers party at the festival and make nice colorful poster, but end up just having a normal conversation.

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ŽIVILĖ: When I am so chill, that I fall asleep in the middle of yoga lesson and keep sleeping there. Basically, when I can fall asleep anytime and anywhere.

ŽIVILĖ: When clean socks are the most valued thing of all. When oat flakes, jam and water is officially classified as breakfast.

ŽIVILĖ: When the questions is not “do I smell?” but “how bad do I smell?”

LENKA: When we are running barefoot on the beach.

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ŽIVILĖ: When I am collecting beautiful stones and plan to make jewelry from them. 

LENKA: When we live in the moment.

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Everyday of EVS life

EVS life is unique experience and sometimes crazy things happen… So I wanted to capture those funny moments that we had (and we had A LOT!), so you could laugh with us (or from us…) So, first dose of our weirdness!

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‘Let’s go hiking tomorrow’, said Lenka.

‘At 5am’, she added, and my motivation suddenly went 10 feet down. Still, not low enough, because when Lenka woke me up in the morning, I managed to roll out of bed, throw random stuff into my backpack and pretend I am ready.

This is where the troubles started.

We had 10 minutes to run from home to train station, and in the end Lisa didn’t made it to the train and me and Lenka had to leave without her 😦 so it was very sad!

The second part of the troubles, from where we arrived with a train we had to hitchhike a couple of kilometers to the place where we could start our hiking. We stopped a car quite fast, it took maybe 5 mins to get to the place where we needed to go. Driver wasn’t talking to us, but it didn’t seem strange, when we arrived we said thank you and stepped out of the car. Driver immediatly started shouting and showing money sign. We said our lovely phrase “we are volunteers, we have no money”, the driver was shouting at us even more and calling us idiots, so it really wasn’t nice. Of course we gave him a little bit of money and left, but it really wasn’t nice that he didn’t say anything in the begining about the money (after all, we hitchhike so it would be cheaper and also we could meet nice people, and to pay for a couple of km and get shouted at…then it’s better to take the train!)

So after this not very lucky experience (which, fortunately, doesn’t happen often) we finally arrived. Now I will speak less and show more, because view was really amazing!

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It was so nice to just walk in the mountains and fields, without meeting other people for hours, only cows, horses, even one goat… So it was so peaceful! Also I am vey proud of myself (and Lenka, but for Lenka it probably wasn’t hard, because she aways hikes and runs, so she is way more sporty than I am :D) because we walked more than 20km, did yoga on top of teh mountains and in the end still had enough energy to hitchike, go shopping for food…

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ATTENTION – If you want to do yoga as well, come to the youth center, every Thursday at 6 pm Lenka has yoga activity!

So, in the end we arrived to Lacul Rosu (which, in my opinion, wasn’t as impressive as mountains, but I was still excited)!

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So, this was our one day trip, the weather and the view was lovely and I feel like I have more muscles! 😀 I am sure I will miss Romania’s mountains when I wil go home!

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Pre-trip

Evening before the trip.

What normal people would do? Go to sleep, so they would get enough rest and ready for looong travel.

What do we do?

  • Have a fashion show.

Lenkaaaa, but tell me that I should take this scarf? It’s really useful, look, I can wear it on my head! And goes well with my blue lipstick…

Lisa, are you taking only short pants? You think we won’t freeze???

No no, don’t take two pairs of jeans, it’s not minimalist!

  • Decide to record ukulele songs. One for Muška, because she’s lazy to go outside to pee (so the song features words ‘poop’ and ‘pee’…masterpiece), and other about…palinka.
  • Go to sleep at 3am when the train is at 8am.

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Let’s talks numbers:

  • How many people: 2 (me and Lisa)
  • How long: 13hrs (in a lovely train)
  • How long it took for me to fall asleep: 3mins (Lisa’s statistics. I can’t confirm or deny, since, you know, I was sleeping…)
  • How many movies did I watch: 3 (I hope no one saw that I got a bit teary while watching Lion. I strongly recommend it!)
  • How many new people we met: 1 (a lovely girl who invited us to visit her!)
  • How much food I consumed: 2 sandwitches (mmm, grilled eggplant) and 1 pack of waffers.

So, maybe the train trip wasn’t the most exciting part, but it wasn’t all boring as well!

So, we finally arrive to Budapest, happy and excited, first thing that we do – go to shop for food, to bring something to our host for breakfast. In the shop we meet a nice guy from Spain, who was traveling, came to Budapest and decided to stay, because he fell in love with the city. After a nice chat and short shopping we start looking for our host’s house. Two hours later (yes, we weren’t great with navigating the city…but who would be, after 13hrs in the train!) we finally met our lovely host (we found him though couchsurfing, if you don’t know what that is – stay tuned, there will definitely be a blog post about that). It was quite late and he had to work the next day, but stilll we managed to have a nice conversation about his travels before me and Lisa fell asleep.

2 day

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We woke up early, said thanks to our Hungarian host and went to meet Lenka. We decided that we should do something ‘touristic’ and use the short time we have to see as much as possible, so we went to city tour.

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It was great, honestly I am terrible in remembering historical facts (so maybe more about that in Lisa’s or Lenka’s blog post?), so I’ll mention only the things that were the most interesting for me and stuck in my head the most:

  • Apparently, ball-point pen, Rubik’s cube and safety matches are all invetions of Hungarians!
  • Statues of horses have interesting meaning – depending on the horse’s pose you can tell how his owner died. So if the horse is standing with all four legs firmly on the ground, his rider died a natural death. If one of his legs is in the air, it means his owner died from battle-related injuries, if both front legs of the horse are in the air, his rider died in the battle.
  • In Budapest there is a tree with a lot of locks. It’s not an unusual thing, a lot of European countries have bridges full of locks that lovers put on there and threw away the key, hoping that their love will be ‘locked’ forever. However, this particular tree in Budapest, whose fence is full of locks is different – apparently only couples that met through certain dating site put a lock there. Funny thing! And, a good advertisement for the dating website, because there are a lot of locks, so, it’s probably possible to find love even on the internet…

So, after sightseeing – the mandatory selfie (see, Lenka, I am wearing the scarf!)

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After the city tour, vegan lunch and unexpected meeting (in Budapest we ran into girls from Guyana that we first met in Romania…what a small world!) me and Lisa were prepared for our hitchike to Bratislava. We got to the perfect point for hitchiking, prepared our sign, smiled at the people and…nothing. Not even one car going to Slovakia! We decided to catch a car that would at least bring us further from the city. Guess who stopped – Romanian guy and Estonian girl! They said they are going to Zagreb and if we’re spontanious, we should join them, but this time we weren’t THAT spontanious…so we waited and waited, and it got dark, so we had to call Lenka and ask her to check if there is a bus to Bratislava.

‘Were you hitchiking on the right side? The one, that leads to Romania?’

Well duuuh, we were on the right side, but we got only offers to go to Balaton (tempting!), not to Bratislava. So, Lenka and her friend came to save us! We still had some time until the bus, so we had cucumber throwing competition (Lenka won!), night picnic in the park and I ate at least 6 different types of TuruRudi… So evening spent well. We got in our bus and I slept all the way, we got out at 2am, luckily my friend gave great directions to his place so this time we didn’t get lost and reached him succesfully. Me and Lisa had a tiny tiny matress and 3 hours to sleep, so we tried to rest as much as possible in such a short time…

3 day

We woke up and followed great directions of other friend, Gabriel, (maybe all Slovak people are good with directions?) on how to meet him and get in the part of the city from where we all can catch a ride to Vienna. It took us exactly 2mins (personal record!) to get a car, and after a short ride we arrived.

Again, we planned to start with touristic stuff, so we went for the city tour. Oh, I regreted it soooo much. There were maybe 50 people, tour guide was constantly advertising things (‘So, this museum is only 30 euros, with our card is only 29, and if you want to eat you should go to this restaurant…‘) I was looking for ways to escape and when I saw my friend is also not too interested in the tour, we left Lisa (sorry!) to enjoy the tour and skipped it… And went to the flea market. Too bad I didn’t take pictures, flea market was amazing, full of weirdest things you can possibly imagine: old letters, paintings, jewelry, creepy dolls and statues, there even was one huge box full of door knobs… Connected with flea market there also was a food market (hummus, grilled eggplants and falafels, you were beutiful, I won’t forget you).

But, talking about food I need to mention THE ice cream. Vegan ice cream which feels like pure happiness (or, as Gabriel said, boobs of an angel). I tried levander, lemon & melisa, poppy seeds, peanut butter, orange & safran and (my personal favorite) carrot cake… Yes, in this trip I ate a lot. But it was so worth it.

Of course, in Vienna there were more things to see, not only food. For example, this beautiful rose garden:

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But in general, I had this strange feeling about Vienna, that it is like huge museum, it can be admired, but not ‘touched’ – it felt like very touristic city, but lacking of life. So I am glad I had a good company and some fun things to do, but I can’t imagine living in Vienna!

After the long day exploring the city we hitchhiked back to Bratislava (this time it wasn’t so easy and took some time to get a car back, but apparently we drove with some local celebrity – the guy who stopped for us was some radio person).

Ach, and again about food…but I have to mention it. Imagine: kürtöskalács, inside it is nutella and strawberries, on top – ice cream and more strawberries… Heaven.

So after this lovely meal we needed to move a bit, so we went to a hill from where we could see the lights of Bratislava at night… What a nice view. And we even did some yoga on the top of the mountain (this was always on my bucket list)!

After this longlongong day me and Lisa just wanted to sleep, but my friend with who we were staying had plans for partying… So Gabriel offered to host us instead, shower, bed and  clean socks were pure heaven.

Day 4

Another morning starts with hitchhiking, this time waiting was less boring, because we had ukulele! So some weird random hitchhiking songs and we stopped a car, again – Romanians! And one of the sweetest moments from hitchhiking – radio started playing Ed Sheeran’s “Galway girl” (my personal favorite from his new album!) and we all in the back of the car started humming quietly, tapping our fingers/hands/feet in the rhytm, and the girl who was sitting next to driver laughed at us and turned music louder 🙂

Driver let us out maybe 5km before Vienna’s city center, but it was good because we discovered the weirdest thing – pet cemetery. So a lot of tiny (and not so tiny) gravestones for all the Fluffies, Luckies, Sparkles and other beloved animals… It was both sweet and weird, what an interesting place to visit.

After one more car we finally ended up in Vienna and split again – Lisa went to see the castle, me and my friend went to museums. Vienna for sure is THE city for museums – everyone should find something that they like, I enjoyed interesting photos, some great contemporary art and some “must-see” paintings.

We headed back to Bratislava a bit earlier, since Lisa wanted to explore the city. And what a nice person stopped for us, he told us that he was also a hitchhiker when he was younger (and had dreadlocks…:)), so now he feels that he has to “give back the favour” and take other hitchikers.

Unfortunately, when we reached Bratislava, the weather was terrible, so instead of walking around the city we bought stuff for my favorite lazy cake and headed home. We were so tired and cold after the rain, that we fell asleep and the cake never happened…

Day 5

The fun trip home. Me and Lisa said bye to my friend at around 8am and we headed for hitchhiking spot. The task was simple – to go through the fields to the petrol station.

We went…

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And  went…

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And realised, we chose the wrong way, so instead of 15mins of walking it was more than hour. Finally we reached the petrol station and we started hitchhiking, people were super friendly, smiling and waving at us, a lot of truck drivers were saying that they’re leaving to Budapest in the afternoon, so if no one stops they can take us there. BUT – Lenka was waiting for us in Budapest. And our bus back to Romania… So we couldn’t wait for the afternoon, we needed to get to Hungary as fast as possible.

After a couple of hours of waiting, a Bulgarian man stopped, he was going to Sofia and he took us. It was so funny, his first sentence was:

‘I hope you are not going to kill me’

So, we were his first hitchhikers! And he said, he was in the petrol station, then remembered he left something at his friend’s place, then he went back to Bratislava, then to the petrol station again, and we were still standing there… So he felt sorry for us, lucky us! And he was so nice, he wasn’t planning to go into Budapest, but for us he adjusted his route and took us exactly where we needed, it was so nice of him 🙂

In Budapest we met Lenka and her friend, we went to the park and Hungarian beach, so it felt like the official beginning of the summer. And a bit later we even met Muška’s baby and her owner!

After I filled my bag with Slovak sweets and Hungarian alcohol-free beer, we went to the bus, where I slept all the way until Miercurea Ciuc… And there – not such good news, our bus was veeery late, and we still neded to hitchhike back to Baile Tusnad… But in the end everything worked out well!

After the trip we were talking with Lisa and Lenka, what were the high-points of the trip, so my top three:

  1. Doing yoga late in the evening, staring at beautiful view of Bratislava;
  2. Getting lost in crop fields while trying to find our way to Budapest;
  3. Ice cream.

Also, we had a little challenge, to learn 5 phrases – Lenka in Hungarian, Lisa in Slovak and me in German. I learned only 3, but here they are:

Ist deine Zeit heilig für dich? / Is your time sacred for you?

Besser essen, besser leben. / Better eating, better living.

Wie man zusammenlebt / How to live together

I hope you are not sleeping after my post, and hopefully it was fun to read about our (tiny bit crazy) journey!