Nice sunset view as we pass over London, England, on our way to Albania.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Shkodra, Albania.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Hiking the Peaks of the Balkans, June 13-24!

Friday, November 18, 2016

So, maybe things were meant to happen this way...

Spent much of yesterday morning on the phone and the internet trying to organize a car rental. Lots of thanks to our couchsurfing host Valentina for all of her translation efforts! Some of the car rental websites have English, but not all.

We ended up with a pretty good deal...162 euros ($233 CAD, $173 USD) for 10 days, but we were going to have to go 100 kms north of here to the city of Cluj by bus to pick up the car. So we made plans to do that this morning.

And then, it turned out all of that effort was for nothing.

Ruth and I went into town after lunch, planning on going back to the citadel to finish seeing some things we had missed. We took the local bus, and then had a bit of a walk along a main street to get to where we wanted to go.

As we're walking along, I saw a sign in a window advertising a car rental. So we walked in, but they didn't have an actual office, and nobody there spoke any English. We took down a number and figured we would ask Valentina or Gaby to call them later. It would sure be a lot easier to get a local rental than to have to take the bus.

We carried on to the citadel. As we were getting to the window where you buy tickets to the Three Fortifications Tour, a guy in period costume waved us over.

He didn't speak any English, but we got the point that we were supposed to pose for pictures with him.

Okay, why not...

I hope it's not loaded!

Ruth, with the sword.

Then, the guy puts his hand out for money, asking for a euro. Oh, I pulled out five lei ($1.60 CAD, $1.20 USD) and he was happy.

We went to the ticket booth and paid 15 lei ($4.80 CAD, $3.60 USD) each for the tour. The place is really quiet at this time of year, and we were the only ones. It turns out that the only reason a guide is needed is for the part that takes you through the Medieval Hotel which is an operating hotel partly located in the old structure.

The guide seemed in a bit of a rush, and it wasn't really worth it. But, we did get some photos of the interior...

This old room in the fort has been turned into a lounge for the five star hotel.

Dinner at the knights table?

The swords weigh 8 kilos (18 lbs) each!

The rest of the "tour" if you could call it that was self guided. Again, not really worth the extra money...unless you really wanted to see the dungeon and torture chamber...

At this time of year we really think that the tour should be free, in the summer it may be a different story as they have lots of activities going in that section and people are dressed in period costumes so it may well be worth the extra change then.

Apparently this room really was a torture chamber.

After we were done, we called Valentina and went to meet her her and Gaby, and two friends of theirs. We went to a cafeteria style restaurant where Gaby had said the food is really good, and really good value. He said that because so many people eat there, the food is always fresh.

It was mid afternoon, so Ruth and I each had a bowl of soup.

Ruth's soup.

Ruth had a meatball soup made with some kind of sour milk. Had a kind of an odd flavor, but it was good. I had vegetable soup. For our two soups, it cost 9 lei ($2.90 CAD, $2.15 USD).

We will keep our eyes open for this type of restaurant in the future. Apparently most small cities have them.

While we were having our soup, Gaby used the phone to call the car rental phone number that I had written down. Sure enough, they have a car for us. I wanted the 10 day rate of 15 euros per day, but they don't have that car available for us the first day. So they said they would give us a more expensive car the first day if we promise to come back and exchange it for the cheaper car on the second day...and at no extra charge.

They are actually located in another town, but are going to bring the car to us. Good service! And, even cheaper than the other place and we don't have to take the bus to Cluj. Hopefully it all goes as planned. As Valentina says, in Romania you never count on something until it has actually happened!

Meanwhile, the other rental we had booked in Cluj had called to cancel, saying that the car we were getting had to go into service. So...maybe things were meant to happen this way. I guess we'll see!

Oh, and the weather has changed! We woke up to sunshine this morning, and they're calling for a high of 11C (52F) today..and sunny and 13C (56F) tomorrow!

Big selection of hiking shoes and boots on Deal of the Day at Amazon. Includes quite a few of our favorite Merrell brand...

Also in Canada!


  1. Looks like a weapons day:) That ia a long barrel on that rifle.

    1. Certainly felt like it for a few minutes! :-) There was also a bayonet attached to the end of the barrel which would make it appear even longer than it really is.

  2. LOL! I couldn't help but laugh when you said calling for 52F. - 56F. and were thankful for it; remember the days in Mexico when those temperatures would not be acceptable? I think you two have adapted well in a couple of weeks and are thankful for God's small gifts of warmth. It follows that, except for the language barrier, you've become true Europeans.


    1. After the weather we had been having we probably would have been happy even if it was at the freezing mark as long as the sun was out. We are sorta missing the lovely warm weather in Mexico but we were expecting this type of weather here so it wasn't a surprise.

  3. Looks like a very interesting place. My husband would love all the historical sites and info. Good luck on the car rental and safe traveling!

    1. If your husband loves historical sites than you would need lots of time to visit Romania. Every village/town seems to have an old church, castle or citadel in it. We want to stop at all the places we pass through but know that we just don't have the time. I think we should have planned a longer visit here! ;-)

  4. In Ottawa,the temp. this week has been between 10 - 13C everyday - very unusual. However, that will change next week!

    1. That's about what the temperatures are here now, hopefully that will last for a week or so, even longer would be better. ;-)

  5. Your header picture looks colder than 56! We get fog all the time and it's so cold...brrr. I think you got a great deal on the tour...less than $4.00 a don't see that too often! Meals seem to be very reasonable there, also. Hope your car rental works out and you'll be off to new adventures.

    1. It was quite foggy and damp that day but the temperature was better and there was no wind which really helps.

      The tour would have been a great deal had it been in the summer when they have people dressed in period costume and had lots of activities going on when there are lots of tourists around but at this time of year there was nothing happening and it was no different than walking around the rest of the citadel which we did the other day for free. I understand the need for a "guide" in the hotel but that took all of 10 minutes if that, all you see are a couple of rooms! Meals here in general are very reasonable, but they are à la carte so when you order your main dish you need to remember to also order sides, like potatoes, vegetables and rice etc. still a good deal.

      More details about the car rental will be in the next post, things worked out but not without some more issues.

    2. It's good that you guys research before hand to know if you are being charged more than you should be. They really shouldn't be charging when they don't have all the activities going on and a self guided tour would work just fine. It sounds like a great deal compared to what tours cost in the states, for example, but I totally understand what you are saying.

  6. I had to smile at your car rental story. You guys seem to come out smelling like a rose whenever something goes sour. I love it.

    1. I won't say we came out smelling like a rose this time, maybe more like a daisy!


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