Up the zig zag trail, through the forest, gaining elevation one step at a time. It was a beautiful sunny day and the trees provided the perfect protection and scenery. After about 1 hour, I was up at the big “Brasov” sign that towers over the city announcing to the universe the name of this beautiful town in Romania: the gateway into the Carpathian mountains and Transylvania region. After enjoying the view and taking pictures, I decided to take a different route down. I came to a fork in the road, not sure which way to go. There was no one around except for a woman in the bushes. My initial thought was not to disturb her because she could be getting ready to pee. Yet, she’s my only hope at not getting lost. Better act fast. I used very simple English to ask for directions. To my surprise, she answered in very good English and reminded me that we ran into each other earlier on the trail. Sure enough, as I was exploring some ruins, our eyes locked briefly. “Beautiful!” I thought to myself when she smiled. I never forget a pretty face! We started talking and I was thrilled to learn that she’s a local English teacher!
Ever since I landed in Romania, I hadn’t been able to befriend any locals. Apart from service personnel (whose English is very limited), I only met other travelers and foreigners living in Romania. I took the opportunity to ask her for local tips and we exchanged phone numbers.
Anamaria turned out to be an angel; beautiful inside as much as out. The next day, we toured the nearby town, Sinaia, together. She taught me which cheeses are strong enough for my taste, where to find good local food and how the transportation system works (I was paying double because I didn’t know tickets may be validated twice). We had long rich conversations about life, love, travel, relationships, politics and religion. I was finally able to ask elaborate questions and go beyond superficial small talk. We exchanged life stories. It felt like our souls knew each other for a very long time, when we met physically, it was simply an act of catching up. Anamaria gave me the gift of experiencing the local culture from within. When she invited me over to her beautiful cozy apartment for dinner, it was like visiting family. I found many similarities between growing up in socialist conservative Egypt and Communist conservative Romania. Different language and religion, yet very similar cultural patterns and conditioning. It all started by asking for directions. I’m so grateful I followed my instincts and didn’t shy away from approaching her.
Meeting people and making new friends put a human face and a human heart on the map. As much as I enjoyed Nature and scenery, Romania, for me, will always be Anamaria’s beautiful smile, her kind heart and the great time we had together.
#brasov #sinaia #romania #transylvania #easterneurope #europe #friends #mountain #carpathianmountains #hiking #forest #nature #naturephotography #travel #travelstories #travelblog #traveladventure #travellife #travelphotography #friendship #traveladdict