Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Oradea, Day 2.

Cluj-Napoca, my next Romanian destination, is 153 kms away. Assuming the terrain allows me to pedal at 15-20 kms/hr, I need to wake up at 7 a.m. in order to make it there before dark.

So this morning I woke up, to see it was very dark and rainy outside. I hadn't listened to the weather reports, but as I waited 1 hour, and then 2, for the skies to clear it became obvious (clear! ha ha!) that it wouldn't happen.

It really sucks to bike in the rain, so I decided to take another day off. For only 17 Euros a day (Youth Hostel prices!) I get satellite TV (and wow, by the way, remember those protesters I told you I simply avoided by taking a side street on the morning I left Budapest? Turns out, by Monday the protest had moved in front of Parliament, where they burned up some cars and clashed with police, and then they headed over to the TV station nearby, where they went ahead and stormed it. 150 people injured. The reason the mob was so angry? Because Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany publically admitted to lying "morning, afternoon, and night" about the state of the Hungarian economy. Yikes! This all not 2 blocks from where my Youth Hostel was! I guess I left Budapest right on time, then...), a single, very spacious bedroom with a queen size bed in a hotel that looks rinky-dink outside but with sparkling, look at myself in the mirror white and green marble floors, and very well kept antique furniture. The luxury! So it wasn't that hard to stay, in spite of there not being much to do in the city.

The rain throws things into chaos here. They are repairing the street in front of the hotel (which is the main downtown pedestrian-only street) which is now muddy and dirty. The more I think about Nadia Comaneci and the Olympics and those athletes who made it out of the country and saw the world the more I think how lucky they must've felt. Given that this was the only opportunity for most people to leave, the competition to get in and remain in these kinds of programs, not just for gymnastics, but for any kind of talent or ability: music, mathematics, science, arts, whatever (and note it is just kids, who joined as young as 10 years old or even less) must've been terrifyingly intense. Now I have a much greater respect (as if that were even necessary, because even without knowing and seeing where they came from they were already remarkable)....for some friends I made in college.

Funny, the coins are so worthless here, merchants simply round the prices off and don't even bother giving you exact change...

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