Travel Diary: Hotel Hell

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The Travel Diary is a retrospective blog about our 3-month long wedding trip in 2003. We’re sharing stories about our honeymoon across 11 countries, including accommodation details, recipes, travel stories, and the story of how 2 people started a lifelong adventure together.

As mentioned in the previous entry to the Travel Diary, we were about to have our first night in Brașov, Romania at the Hotel Aero Sport (which no longer exists, as far as we can tell). Don’t misunderstand – Hotel Aero Sport wasn’t an unusually messy or poorly run hotel, apart from the cardboardy pink toilet paper in the shared bathroom with no hot water, or the massive infestation of – well, we will get to that. In fact it was downright average as far as basic budget accommodation in Romania goes. The problem with Hotel Aero Sport lies mainly in the sleep-stealing, comfort destroying, this-will-make-a-great-story-someday-ness of it’s night life.

As we settled in that night, we noticed that there was some very festive music coming from the street below our 4th floor room. It turns out that Hotel Aero Sport was located across the street from a local wedding hall. Clarinets, trumpets, drums, and cheerful voices celebrating a wedding all provided our soundtrack for the evening as we hung up some laundry to dry in our little room. We had been trying to save some money by washing whatever we could by hand in the shared bathroom sink down the hall, so in order to dry out our socks and t-shirts, we had created a clothesline across the span of our little 10 x 10 room. After all the laundry was hung, we decided to sit down to a game of cards.

Travel Romania

Since it was a fairly warm night and we had wet clothes contributing to the growing humidity in our room, we decided to open the window. The wedding across the street had only become more furiously festive, with music that seemed to get faster and louder every few minutes, and the sound of old drinking songs being sung by crowds of increasingly inebriated in-laws. The music was enjoyable though, and we couldn’t begrudge anyone their wedding celebration while we were celebrating our own honeymoon. Unfortunately, the noise wasn’t the worst of our issues, as the moment we opened the window, a cloud of ravenous mosquitoes flooded our tiny space. The rooftop about 2 storeys below our window had pools of stagnant water that bred the most vicious bloodsuckers Transylvania has ever seen. Vampires are real, folks. This is the stuff that legends are made of.

We tried our best to exterminate or flush out as many mosquitoes as we could, whacking our clothes as though they were on fire, occasionally smacking each other without much warning in order to quell the feasting beasties that swarmed us, all to the tune of the frantic (and at this point hilarious) clarinets from outside. Near 2am – about an hour later – we sat exhausted on our little bed with half our wet laundry on the floor, the other half now polka-dotted with the squished bodies of our enemies. Our room was becoming a sauna with the window now firmly sealed, but we curled up on our bed, a single cotton travel sheet pulled over our heads while the last few stubborn mosquitoes buzzed next to our ears and nibbled at us through the fabric.

The Longest Roma Wedding Ever raged on. The music had gone from enjoyable to worrisome – who were these musicians and don’t they get cramps in their hands?

A mostly sleepless hour or so later, a new player entered this already spectacular evening. We heard, loud and clear, a couple enjoying their evening together. Loud. And. Clear. It sounded like the fun was happening just a floor or so below ours. Someone was crazy enough to keep their window open, apparently. The woman seemed to add some very theatrical… enthusiasm… to her vocalizations and exclamations. It was loud enough to keep us awake for the few minutes that it went on for, but it was also memorable enough that just 30 minutes later, we heard the exact same vocalizations, the exact same exclamations, but this time the woman’s voice was coming from upstairs. We couldn’t quite believe it, and thought perhaps we were imagining things (or maybe it was the blood loss?), but sure enough, about an hour after Act I and II, we were treated to Act III and IV, which both took place on our floor, though in different rooms. By the last time we heard it, we were counting down to certain “oohs” and “aahs” – we knew her script as well as she did by this point. Whoever she was, she certainly had a full schedule that evening.

The Longest Roma Wedding Ever was still going on, and the sun was rising. We learned later on that weddings often go on for 24 hours or so around here, but at this point we were just impressed that they were still going strong. We hadn’t slept much, between mosquitoes, clarinets, a tropical environment in our room, and being within earshot of the hotel’s somewhat creatively uninspired in-house companion service. We were ready to pack up and travel to Bran, where “Dracula’s Castle” is located. Goodbye, Hotel Aero Sport.

We were about to go from our worst night in Romania, to our best.

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