On Sunday our Swiss friends went back home again, so we're travelling alone now (both, travelling in a group and alone has its good and bad aspects, of course!) ... Actually, as you are constantly meeting new people while traveling, you're never alone if you don't want to be.
Unfortunately, due to a nasty virus that hit the four of us, we did not go to Clopotiva (south of Hateg in Romania) and did not find Jacob the American. Fellow travellers told us that in Clopotiva, you can ask for Jacob who is planning to set up a campsite and helps travelers to find a nice spot to stay for one or two nights on a mountain meadow or so. So, if by any chance you go there, ask for Jacob (maybe his campsite will have been opened by then) and send us an email with your story.
The Route: As we enjoyed Hungary pretty much when travelling to Romania, we wanted to spend some more time there as well, so, on the 4th August, we went westwards to the small Hungarian city of Csengrad. As we needed a proper laundry machine and hot showers (due to "Montezuma's Revenge"), we did not stay at the campsite there, but drove another 50 km or so to Kiskunmajsa where a nice Dutch couple own a small campsite ("Ons Dorpke", we'll soon update the accomodation and camping section). Yesterday evening the landlady invited all the guests to a dinner of Dutch Fries (just because there are so many children on the campsite, she decided that it was time for a children's party). Tomorrow, we're going to leave this wonderful place and travel through the Puszta backroads ...
Some Thoughts on Travelling
Slow travel sometimes can be difficult to reach when you want to go to a country as far away from your homecountry as it is the case with Romania or Hungary and Germany. To have some time in your "final destination", you have to rush through some countries that might also be interesting. This can be difficult, especially if you have only two to three weeks to travel or when travelling with children (in our case, though, they are really resilient).
What's interesting in foreign contries? Some people complain about spending too much time "on the road". This doesn't mean that you are covering large distances while on the road ... in some countries, such as Romania, the road conditions on backcountry roads simply don't enable people to travel fast and that's why sometimes it'll take a lot of time behind the wheel. Still, while driving, you can see and experience a lot: give the villagers a wave, stop for asking the way and have a small chat about the weather, stop at a roadside vendor and buy some mushrooms or a melon, ... So many things that can be much more interesting than touristy sights just lie next to the backroads. What's more: these experiences are your own personal ones, the touristy sights are interpreted and you have to share them with other tourists. Experiencing a country only works when trying to mingle with the locals.
This leads me to Shopping! We try to buy local produce in small local shops instead of going to big (often Western-European) supermarkets or other international companies. Of course, if you've got the Vegimite, Marmite, Peanut Butter, Schwarzbrot, Lemon Curd munchies, it's fine to go there and buy the stuff you miss so dearly. In most other cases, local shops will be more interesting because people talk to you and are interested in you and not only in your shopping habits. Also, they might be considerably cheaper, have really fresh local fruits and vegetables and, what's the most important thing to us: the money you spend will go directly to the "small", local people and not filling the pockets of businessmen and "entrepreneurs" from western Europe or The States. We have nothing against these guys personally, but simply like to leave our money in the country we visit! Often, we buy things we don't have a clue about what they are, just because! Also, locals are the best "guidebooks" existing! Guidebooks can be a great help sometimes and can help in getting a good overview over a country, but you'll have to realize that all that "secret information" they provide is a "secret" shared between you and all the readers of that special guidebook!
Campsites: Most often you will not find a European standard campsite. For us teaching our children life skills, it is important to show them that other people are not able to enjoy the standards we enjoy at home ... this makes one humble! Anway, don't rush through the country trying to find "the best campsite" ... sometimes the most interesting encounters happen at exactly the "worst campsites" imaginable!