April 9, 2016: Surprise Trip to Baia Mare

Saturday.  Luciana was the first one awake actually getting Dominica and me up today.  That is unusual.  And she had not just woken up, she had already done her morning ablutions and was looking for breakfast and YouTube videos to be set up for her.

It is cloudy today.  We have seen mostly just bright sun since getting to Romania.  This is a bit more of how I had pictured life in Transylvania.

The home owners came by this morning.  They wanted to check on us since we had had the power issues this week and they felt bad that we had to deal with that and wanted to be sure that all was well.  They stopped by in the morning and after introducing us to her husband, she went to her parents’ home to visit for the day while her husband Tony, who grew up in this house, spent the day doing lawn work, gardening, pruning the plum trees (called prune trees here), mowing, watering and such.

Since Tony was around all day outside working we think that it discouraged the village kids from coming by early on in the day.  We had no visitors but did see a few going to the well.  Tony came in at one point and had some tuica with us.  It turns out that the tuica that we have in the house is made by him personally and is made from the plums that grow in our garden and orchard!  That makes it that much cooler.

At three we decided to make a daytime run to the grocery store in the hopes of being able to hit a playground and get dinner while we were out.  We wanted some things that we knew were available at the Lidl so we went there.  We were not so rushed this time, which was very nice.  We had a relaxed, successful grocery shopping trip.

Kids at Lidl
Liesl and Luciana at the Lidl

We had such a nice dinner a week ago when we were at the Pensiune Casablanca that we decided to just return there and get much of the same food again.  Their vegetarian offerings are just delicious.  It was not so overly warm this time, either.  We had the only table in the place that was not being used for a private party so we sat in a small room on the side to ourselves.

After dinner we stopped at a gas station on the west side of Reghin that was on our way back to the village.  We had noticed before that they had a nice looking playground and outside cafe seating area and figured that we would check that out for the girls.  We wanted to get gas, so this worked out well.

The gas station is really nice and modern, offers a few sandwich made to order items like better American gas stations, pumps your gas for you and cleans all of your windows and lights while they do and has a cafe with decent coffee and a little shop with all of the mini market things you expect from a gas station.

What is amazing is that we have been in Romania for over a week now, eight days, and we drove from Bucharest all of the way up to Baita, which is most of the way across the country, and have done three trips in Reghin and in all of this time we have used only half a tank of gas!  Amazing.  This Ford Focus Eco does a great job.

Dominica and I got coffee and sat outside at the cafe while the girls hit the playground.  The playground is excellent.  It is very well made, has lots of things to do, has lots of nice safety features and is all on nice rubberized mats so extra safe.  No other kids were there, really, the whole time so we put in close to an hour just relaxing with our coffee and letting them play.  This is way better than the playground in the city square, even though it is much smaller.

Playground at the Gas Station

The area where the gas station is located is an odd suburb with amazingly large, American style houses laid out close together in a nice Romanian style.  I could see Americans or Panamanians liking this area.  There are some really amazing houses on the rise behind the gas station, one house with commanding views and is very modern that I can only guess is worth over a million.

While we were sitting out at the cafe with time to talk we suddenly decided that we were itching to go see some stuff and that we had energy and that even though it was late in the evening that we should go home, back and do a two night trip up north to see some stuff in Romania!

It was nearly eight when we headed back to the house.  Dominica set to packing and I tried to wrap up what I could so that we could get onto the road.

It actually took us until ten to actually have the kids in the car and pull out of the driveway.

The drive north took about three hours.  The weather was fine and the traffic was light but with low visibility and crazy Romanian roads (crazy because of the mountainous terrain) it is slow going.  And there are no real highways, just roads that go through towns and cities so a lot of slow speed zones.

We got into Baia Mare, which we had chosen because it was one of the few places that we knew that we wanted to see in Romania and we knew that we could get there quickly and see the area on short notice.  Dominica has been extra interested in it because the hotel owned by the family from Somewhere Different is located there and she wanted to see it.  She wanted to stay there but they had no rooms available for this weekend (because they were closed, it turns out.)  So she had researched the area.

I am most interested in seeing the famous UNESCO World Heritage wooden churches there that are a remnant of the Hungarian occupation in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.  There are eight UNESCO sites up there, we are planning a way to see four of them on this trip.

We got into Baia Mare at one thirty.  We struggled for a good half an hour to find the hotel after we had parked.  It was very hard to find and the girls all stayed in the car while I wandered around on foot trying to located them.  I finally found them, after calling them and making someone pop their head out to wave at me, right on the main Millennium Square.  A really awesome location.

The city was hopping with tons of people out on the streets and in the square.  We had been seeing long lines for clubs for a while while we were out driving.  Saturday night is a big time to go out in Romania.

The hotel turned out to be really awesome.  This has to be one of the best places in town.  The hotel has an outdoor cafe, indoor cafe, restaurant and an amazing location.  We rented out their apartment instead of one of the regular rooms and this turned out to be absolutely ideal as this gave us an entire floor to ourselves – just us and the restaurant are on the first floor and we have views in a few directions and can see our car parked on Dacia Street, too.

We were straight off to bed, we were all quite tired.  Dominica and I have the main room and the girls have a little room off to the side with a fold out bed.  They like the set up of the room as it keeps them close enough to use to feel like they are with us but lets us all have enough space.

The Hotel Diafan was a great find on Booking.com.  We are thrilled with this one.

When we got into the room and got Internet access (which is normally wide open in Romania making things much easier) Dominica found that Liesl had taken a selfie with some of her new Romanian friends at the playground yesterday while the power was off at the house and it was posted on Facebook.  Our little girl is so old that she is taking selfies all by herself.  So adorable she is…


Liesl Selfie
Liesl and Friends in Baita, Romania