Brasov, Romania


Beer, Elevator that I was assured, unsolicited, is safe, it really is, it’s safe, and then the early morning view from this apartment.





More mixed and matches images from a couple of Romanian castles.


Price of a beer in a bar: US$1.60 got me 500ml of domestic strong dark ale, bottled

Song currently stuck in my head: Your Gold Teeth II (Steely Dan)

The matron of the house here in Brasov in which I’ve rented a room for a few days poured exactly the right amount of homemade ‘Romanian whiskey’ (rajika) to level me up into an ideal neurological range, euphoric enough to Bliss out in headphones and ignore how aggressively asinine Gavin Rossdale’s lyrics are; to fall back into the nostalgia of being too inexperienced to know whether I got burned on that ball of hash my friends and I bought at X-fest in ’93. Even live he was immediately unlikable. Distilled apple/pear/fig, perhaps some barrel aging, stored in and poured from a plastic water bottle along with a story of higher education, mechanical engineering and revolution induced joblessness, then an offer of some soup.

The psuedoephedrine doesn’t hurt. I’ve never had the psuedo stuff before; more nostalgia of the 90s when ephedrine wasn’t just available over the counter, it was tacitly recommended by its impulse placement, next to the roadies and needlessly ornate bics. I’m not one to wax poetic about glory days, but I feel like I’m on thick ice when I suggest that OTC trucker speed was better in the 90s.

My bag has slimmed down considerably, but I am carrying some low lying Bulgarian infection or Bulgaria derived condition and the psuedo is 1/4 of a stack of sprays, drips and pills the private hospital internist recommended. He said I might be straightened out in a few days, might hit Asian ground firing on all cylinders. Given what’s waiting for me, it might be healthier to arrive unhealthy; allow the malady induced humility, the heightened salience of mortality, to establish a pattern of restraint early on.

Oh well. ‘Buy the ticket’ and all.

I visited Peles Castle earlier today, a ‘must-see’ that’s been on my radar since well before we booked flights to this continent. It surpassed all expectation; so much so that I won’t bother to try to convey it.

I met a European Train Guy on the ride to Bucharest; these travelers are their own breed. This guy had a job as a railway traffic controller in Western Europe and a lot of opinions about each countries current investment (or lack thereof) in their rail lines, particularly the ongoing disappearance of night trains. It’s an interesting way to travel, though; he targeted train stations the way other tourists target towns; the routes were his attractions, his equivalent of ‘the local sites’, and he would just arrive at a station, consult his printed train guides and choose a route he wanted to see from among the practical options left at that station that day. It’s a spectator endeavor, to be sure, but those rides show you a huge amount of countryside and they’re far more interesting than the routes the highways take. I get it. He had particular routes he wanted to see and a lot of leeway in how to cover the miles and fill the time in between.

3 days until my flight to Asia.

Edit: Subsequent posts wrapped back in time and started being posted on Tuesdays beginning here.



These shots are mixed and matched from a couple of different castles.



Train from Sofia, Bulgaria to Russe, Bulgarian border town before crossing the Danube into Romania. Also, all of my possessions and a Romanian train station.


As I write this I’m winding down my time in Plovdiv and my time in Central Europe overall. Soon I’ll take a reputedly gorgeous train ride through Northern Bulgaria and Southern Romania, tour Peles and Bran Castles and then, after 5 days in Romania, board a flight to Hanoi (Vietnam) via Moscow. I’ll narrowly miss seeing Doug Stanhope in Saigon on March 14th.

I’m not sure what these posts will look like going forward. I intend for my Asian travel to move at a considerably faster clip and include far more activity, leaving scant time to maintain this. Now obviously I don’t put that much time into this to begin with, so maybe things won’t change much. This project began as a distribution group that I’d email as I was traveling, just keeping in touch and letting people know what was going on, similar to how people use Facebook, which wasn’t around then. Perhaps the content will revert to a similar form. 30 day summaries of particular towns do not fit with my current intentions, so if you’ve subscribed because of those round ups you might consider checking out for a while. Perhaps I can post overall travel cost info for each of the Asian countries I visit in spreadsheet form.

I know I’ve mentioned it, but I really, really hate using a laptop for this, even a good one. How do you people live like this? Nothing fits on these screens.

Here are a few items in my notes that never really fit in elsewhere:

Paddy from The Budgeteers put together a video with several prominent youtube travel vloggers giving their best travel advice.

Listening to podcasts on an overnight bus is a little like hearing Art Bell as a child on the Chicago AM frequencies strong enough to reach my hometown as a child. In that vein, here are hours of Ari Shaffir speaking with slow travel icon Colin Wright. Interview starts around 18:20, because Ari can’t help himself.

Take care of yourselves.

The snow that I’d unintentionally but happily avoided up until now found me. Keep in mind it’s late Feb when this is being authored. By the time you read this it will be warm in Plovdiv and I’ll probably be somewhere even warmer.

But today, which was 10 weeks ago, I’m getting buried.