I recently traveled to Budapest, which is the capital of Hungary.
Braşov, which is my point of departure, is in the very East of the Transylvanian region and Hungary is the next country on the left, in the West.
So, basically, if you want to travel from Braşov to Hungary, you have to cross all of Transylvania.
Crossing it by train can be quite an experience. Of course, you will not get to see many things on the North-South line, but I saw these things another time and the region is pretty much all the same. The same beauty.
I left very early in the morning, so a small part of my way was in the dark. After a while, it started to get brighter and the landscape became visible as the spring night ended.
Traveling by train is one of the most practical way to get around in Romania. If you travel by car, it is better of course, in terms of comfort, but you have to be patient on the bumpy roads and the complicated ways in and between small villages. We are just building highways , so if you are driving by car, there is no way to avoid driving through villages and encount many sheep or cows crossing the road.
Then, there is of course the plane, but there is no airport in Braşov, so I would have to buy a ticket for a bus or a train to another city and fly from there. And for a traveler like myself, planes are expensive, as I don’t plan my trips one year in advance.
The trains are quite clean and safe, even thought I wouldn’t travel by night. Transylvanian trains are the nicest trains of Romania, trains from other regions are older and dirtier.
Transylvania is well-known world-wide for being a inspiration for Bram Stroker’s “Dracula”.
If you travel through these places, you can’t help but notice the landscape. The air is heavy yet thin, like an unseen presence. There are many dark trees and hundreds of hills bordered by strong mountains covered with snow.
People in the countryside still have old mentalities; for example, once when I was in a village and left at sundown with someone I had went there earlier, a woman asked if we go out of the house after it gets dark. She then said, she knew people in the cities go out when the night falls too, but she thinks it’s weird.
A thing that is interesting yet really annoying is that in Transylvania there are animals everywhere. Bears, dogs, wolf and other animals make it an unpleasant place to hike or explore.
The predominant colors of the region are green and brown. Everything is either green or brown. When it’s sunny, the colors are brighter. The ride across Transylvania is made with a slow train: it lasts almost nine hours to get from Braşov to the border, which is almost 500 kilometers. It makes me think about the fact that in the past people used to travel for days to cross this region, which was a country in itself. And I imagine the roads were bumpier and the means of transport not comfortable at all. Fifteen years ago, train tickets were a small piece of brown cardboard that had a few words and numbers on it. Now, it’s this big ticket, wrapped up in an envelope with many words on it. Mine is number 1400142191 and it has many other numbers on it as well. I don’t know what that means. However, the tickets are clearer to read, you know when you leave and when you arrive.
The scenery is beautiful. The green and brown hills, the occasional mud puddles and very few people are present here. Where are all the people? In the train, the ride is quiet, sometime someone talks, and we can hear the engine running.
Dark, leaf-less trees, haystacks, yes, old type haystacks and old churches can be seen out the window, which kind of looks like a cinema screen. Occasionally, you see an abandoned factory, a grand construction that is a trace of communism.
I realize that the various hill sizes, the different types of villages and cities and the overall scenery make a sensitive yet strong unheard symphony of Transylvania.
Approaching the border, the the hills have ended and the Pannonian Plain opens up like an explosion, the Big Bang.
Now, there’s just grass, but little by little a town, a church, a store will be built, worlds will be built and they will transform into something else. I like the old song they play in train stations when announcing a train. I am in Arad, the most Western big city of Romania, and as far as I know, the border is the next stop.
At the border called Curtici, my ID is checked and I am good to go. In a few minutes we will be in another country.
Funny thing how a man-made border has such a big importance.