Romanian countryside
I have made a decision. From now on, I will be spending more time in the middle of nowhere. Cities and towns have their benefits, and Bucharest has certainly treated me well this year, but something happened last weekend that made me realize how much I prefer to be somewhere remote, somewhere like the middle of nowhere.

During that weekend, a friend and I visited a section of the Carpathian Mountains located between the Romanian towns of Buzau and Brasov. We arrived by car and early Saturday morning we took off into the countryside, quickly finding ourselves having to navigate an endless collection of dirt roads, few of which existed on any map. As I drove, I turned left and I turned right whenever I had the urge, never knowing or caring where such a decision would lead.

Dirt road in Romania

We passed through and stopped at endless villages throughout the day, such isolated villages where life has apparently not changed much over the past one hundred or so years. Cars were rare, very rare, with horse- and bull-drawn carts the most common form of transport. Simple wooden homes appeared in the most surprising of places, small gardens of cabbage, of grape vines and of tomatoes sprang up from time to time and gaggles of geese and gangs of turkeys waddled around as if they ruled the land. The mountain scenery remained inspiring in every direction as we crossed narrow, rickety bridges, as we drove through narrow valleys, as we stopped for a rest or a quick chat with a local villager we happened to come across.

Perhaps it was that fresh air or those glorious mountains or the dirt roads or the infinite forests that led me to undergo such a transformation that day, or perhaps it was the quietness that surrounded me, that unbelievable stillness, or the refreshingly slow pace of life in the communities we came upon. Maybe it was the complete lack of advertisements, of shops, of restaurants, or the complete absence of just about every other possible link back to the life that I am more familiar with. Most likely, it was a combination of all of the above.

Trovant Rocks, Ulmet

An outer shell crumbled that day, a shell around me that had contained the noise, the heavy air, the restless mind, the constant need to check my emails, the inner battles and the false satisfactions of a modern life, a life that is dictated by money, by status, by placing importance on things that really aren’t so important at all.

Out there in the middle of nowhere Romania, all I thought about was having more nature in my life, more peace and more quiet, more simplicity, more friendly people to wave to and more friendly people who will wave back at me. I wanted to continue buying fruit every day from a roadside fruit stand and I wanted to continue walking around on streets with no traffic in sight. I wanted to trade in my laptop for an axe and partake in some manual labor and I wanted to find a small house in a small village and call it my home.

Ulmet, Romania

Turkeys in Romania

Being in that remote region, to put it simply, just felt right. And not only did the calmness exist all around me, it was soon within me as well, leading me to experience an unforgettable level of relaxation that I wanted to hold onto for as long as possible.

Again, a shell crumbled that day. It crumbled as I bounced along those unmarked roads. It crumbled as I observed the changing colors of the leaves and it crumbled as I inhaled the sweet-scented ‘middle of nowhere’ air. It crumbled as I climbed a mountain behind the village of Ulmet in search of the mysterious Trovant rocks. It crumbled as I was staring out at Lake Siriu at sunset.

In fact, that shell crumbled a little more with every single blink of my eyes, and as a result, I’ve been contemplating running off, back into the middle of nowhere, ever since I returned to Bucharest. Okay, I’m sure I won’t disappear, but I certainly plan on spending more time in remote regions of the world during my future travels.

(This weekend in the countryside even gave me an idea for a new video series that I hope to start during my upcoming trip to India!)

Rocks near Ulmet, Romania

Do you have any ‘middle of nowhere’ recommendations, either overseas or in your own country? Any amazing places to visit that allows one to be quite far from civilization?