Sibiu1 is a small town sitting at one of the entrances in the region of Ardeal, Transylvania, current-day Romania.
I had wanted to do the same write-up
exactly almost two years ago -- in fact I did one, but never published it. Rereading it, I don't think it was ever worth showing to the public, especially given that back then I hadn't the inspiration to immortalize bits and pieces of the town through a camera. Well! the photos say more about it than I ever could.
It so happens that during my visit there was a rock festival going on, which I used as a pretext for meeting meatfriends from around the country. Assuming that the reader is some kind of alien anthropologist who's never seen a rock festival, let's describe how this works: a herd of cattle, known to us as "rockers" or something like that, is attracted into some kind of stable, known to us as a "concert area". This concert area then stands as a place for socialization, listening to (sometimes horrible) live music, eating, drinking and so on2.
Leaving all the venom aside, below we can notice some rockers getting their groove on:
Above, what do rockers do when they don't rock? I guess they sleep? Anyway, later on Steven Wilson was doing soundchecks, which sounded great, by the way.
Laterer on, the same Steven Wilson delivered an extraordinary blend of sound, visuals and stage arrangement that I haven't seen since Pink Floyd's old concerts3. This still leaves me yearning for more, and I can't have more, because the man is busy playing his music somewhere other than where I am. So what am I gonna do now, resort to flacs? Vinyl? What? Life's a bitch, what can I say.
Moving on from musings about musics, let's take a look at Sibiu. Below, a photo of the Liar's Bridge, followed by one taken from said bridge. The bridge is surrounded with various legends involving more or less lovey romantic stuff, I won't get into that.
And while I could insist on various touristic attractions such as this one:
or this one:
or even this interesting piece of architecture:
I'll rather look at Sibiu through my own curious eye, wondering what the town has to offer, not what some "cultural authorities" want me to see. Like say, this gate where someone wrote "rog închide-mă"4:
Also, what do you make of this:
Nothing? No? I think it's rather nice. Also, don't you wonder where this leads to:
Y'know, one thing leads to another, and for all we know we may find a Leyla Black at the end of the tunnel!
Above, a street where many people were gathered in groups of twenty-ish, doing wedding photo shoots. Yes, precisely like in that other one, only this time behind the old fortress walls. Anyway, the street led to the following (more interesting, IMHO) item:
About ten years ago I had visited this communist-style cofetărie, i.e. place where they serve cakes, whose name and exact location I'd meanwhile forgotten, but have now found again. This is where ten years ago I ate the best éclair in my life, where now I ate the second best éclair in my life. Which brings me to the following unresolvable question: was my experience ten years ago genuine? Was that indeed the best éclair I ever had, or am I just idealizing it? It certainly was the most memorable, since I don't remember eating a better one ever since, and this second best piece that I had was still orders of magnitude shittier than the one I had before it. So, pray tell5, have the sweets produced by Cofetăria Aroma really gotten shittier this decade, or have I just become harder to please? Or maybe both?
And now I can't even say whether this was by coincidence or not, but on the train to Sibiu I started rereading bits and pieces of the old blog, which reminded me of the magical powers of blogging and got me thinking about my old self, and ways in which he was very different from the me I know now. So you see, I'm not just idly derping on the "scientific" subject of éclair-based psychoanalysis, this is an honest question: what the fuck have I become this decade6?
To sum this up, the rock festival ended at some point and the cattle7 got back to their own insignificant lives. The Large Square remains there, however, with its Brukenthal museum, the cafes and all those other fancy places that you should probably see sometime.
The town's Romanian name comes from the Latin Cibinium, also given to the river Cibin flowing through and down south into the Olt. Now, what is a cibinium, the reader might ask? Unfortunately I've only a small (quite possibly wrong) idea that Cibinium/Cibiniensis draws from the Latin cibus (food), but other than that, nothing at all.
The German name can be directly found in historical documents as Hermannstadt, or Villa Hermanni, so no mystery there. Who was Hermann, then? I don't know, but he must have something to do with the so-called Transylvanian Saxons (sași) who colonized the region in 1100 or so.↩
Which reminds me: food and drinks are not purchased with money, you see, but with, wait for it -- beer tokens! a tradition that's been otherwise dead since what, the 19th century? This isn't a fucking casino, yet I have to buy tokens and use them as a currency for getting things, because... why not? I suppose I'm thick like that, so I can't figure why they do this, other than to justify their overly expensive shitbeer and crapfoods. They're the sovereign nation of Artmania now, what.
So we're pretty clear now that the whole space was designed for cattle, aren't we?↩
And just to be clear, I've only seen those as recordings through some piece of glass, because I'm too young to have lived through the '70s. Unlucky me, I guess.↩
The translation is not straightforward. Well, it may be in this particular context, where it means "please to shut the fucking door bearing this text" -- notice its self-referential nature, by the way? -- but in general "a închide" may mean many things, such as closing, clasping, occluding, sealing and so on and so forth.
Now then, just so you know, that's what she said.↩
Though if I can't answer this myself, I'm afraid no one else really can.↩
Also while on the train, I realized that this is a subject worthy of further exploration, which might make this an interesting future blog post... or maybe just a blog post. Who knows.
Wait, what do you mean "does Romania have any trains left"? Yes, it still does, at least for the time being. And mind you, if we disregard the fact that each trip took over five hours, which means that circa ten hours and a half of my "stay" were spent travelling... anyway, if we disregard that, the train was always on time. Yes, there are flights over Europe that take less than five hours, including security checks, boarding and other poor-people stuff. Really, take a map and measure the distance from Bucharest to Sibiu by train, via Brașov -- ten hours, you get me? That's just fucking nuts, and the fact that no one in the ministry of transport from 1990 to present day got beheaded (and one of them even became president) is outrageous.
Bottom line, Romania had multiple windows of opportunity to become a decent country, with infrastructure and all; of which opportunities, most were squandered -- knowingly, one might be inclined to think. Now then, let's all hear the cries of inept #rezist derps in the public square, because that's all they're able to do. So do me a favour: if you ever meet one of these guys, who think that Romania is that little country that could but was always hindered by powers higher than it, give them a vigorous kick in the nads, one that counts, just to make sure they're not able to reproduce. I'll owe you one.↩
Speaking of which, let me recount a short, sad story from Sibiu.
I was walking through the large square when I was approached by a small, darker fellow riding a bicycle. Now, I'm born and raised in one of the less pleasant neighbourhoods in Bucharest, so I immediately thought to myself, what, am I gonna have a brawl -- what in Romanian slang might be dubbed a "smardoială" -- on my day off?
But no, in fact the dude came to tell me that he's looking for a job, and asked me whether I'm willing to hire someone for work in the garden or anything of the sorts. I told him that I'm not from around, so he got back on his bicycle and said plainly: "scuză-mă te rog, îs năcăjit rău", then left immediately, no other words left to be spoken. No-no, you go translate that, because I simply can't.
So now, look at the dwindling demographics of the Sas ethnicity in Romania and tell me, what else do you think could have happened? You can call it Hermannstadt for however long you like, but the fact is, today's Sibiu isn't the same town they had in 1918, is it? Or why else would people go on the streets asking for work, of all places? Do you happen to know the story of the dog tirelessly searching for its master, until its death? Now then, are you going to stop talking to me about equality, please? Because if you aren't, then you and your entitlement to human rights and whatnot are all not worth even half of that poor man's entire existence.↩