Saying goodbye to the town of Sighisoara was not so easy. Despite barely surviving my wander around a graveyard on Halloween night, this is the kind of town that really appeals to me. It’s small, it’s peaceful, laid-back and as far as medieval, fortified towns are concerned, Sighisoara is as perfectly preserved (and renovated) as they come.
What more does a traveler need than a hilltop citadel, complete with Clock Tower, pastel colored homes and 500 year old cellars that produce award-winning local tuica (plum alcohol similar to palinka)?
But even with such an ideal setting, there are always new adventures ahead and so the traveler must pack up his or her bag eventually and move on. So that is what I did, with my next destination being the town of Sibiu.
And, opting to travel by train of course, I was quite happy to learn that this would actually be my shortest train ride so far, with only a mere two hours and twenty minutes needed to cover the 97 kilometer distance between Sighisoara and Sibiu. I know, I know, 140 minutes to cover 97 kilometers? As crazy as it may sound, that’s actually quite the norm for trains in Romania.
With that said, and despite the average speed barely exceeding 40 kilometers per hour (24 mph) on many routes, there are still some great benefits to train travel in this country. The main benefit is that there really aren’t many buses here and so quite often, the train is your only option. So if you want to get around Romania, use of the train system will most likely be required.
But hey, just because a train is slow doesn’t mean that you won’t enjoy the experience.
And when I boarded the train to Sibiu, I literally threw my hands up in celebration because this local train was not only spotless but it was almost completely empty as well, with only two other people, a mother and her baby, in the same car. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a somewhat social individual but due to the reasons that I talked about in my last post, I wasn’t feeling too social at this particular time. Hence the reason why I was so happy to have a train car practically to myself.
The train left Sighisoara right on time and as we chugged along, there I sat, staring out the window, listening to some music and occasionally making faces at the baby that kept looking at me from four rows away. And between the silly faces and watching the Transylvanian countryside pass by, a countryside full of medieval villages that often appear not to have changed for many a century, the two hours and twenty minutes disappeared almost too quickly.
It seemed that the journey ended only a few minutes after it began.
When we pulled into the Sibiu station, I took my time gathering my stuff and putting on my extra layers to face the cold outside. I then took a deep breath, slung my backpack onto my back, jumped down onto the platform and adjusted my winter hat. And then I wandered off into the city of Sibiu…