28th November 2016
To get to Budapest, we had to change in Sibiu. We decided to head to the centre to kill a little time.
The taxi driver didn’t understand “centre” so I pointed at a random street in the middle of the map and off we went. It was bitterly cold and we planned to walk until we found a nice bar and wait out the next few hours there.
But when the first bar didn’t appeal, we turned the corner to find a surprise: a giant Christmas market. A canopy of fairy lights covered the square. A small train carried children from ride to ride. Evergreens and falling snow flakes were projected on the buildings. Music mingled with the mulled wine.
It was while we were enjoying a glass (for warmth, you understand..) and marvelling the scene that it started snowing. And then from nowhere, a German appeared (I don’t remember his name but there’s a selfie he somehow took on my phone).
He was pleasant enough (if a little disparaging of the non-German Christmas market) and we talked until we couldn’t handle the cold anymore (perhaps ten minutes). The first couple of bars we looked in were duds so we asked two locals for a recommendation. They had a good laugh pointing out that it was Monday but as we walked away one came running after us having remembered a place that would be fun, even at the beginning of the week. He wasn’t wrong.
We went through a dark corridor and down a silent stairwell before opening a soundproof door and discovering an abundance of music and voices. We had a couple of steins in honour of our new friend before realising we had to catch our train.
We rushed out and in a direction we thought might lead to the station, searching in vain for a taxi. We asked a group where we could catch a taxi and they offered to phone one. Then, having second thoughts, they headed for a car and waved us in. We raced up to the station and were there with time enough to buy a bottle for the journey with our remaining lei. It was well needed; the last leg of our journey in Romania was an uncomfortable overnight train. But what a heartening way to end our visit!