Day 0.5

Was waiting for this day for such a long time. I was so excited to go out again after a very long pause due to the global coronavirus pandemic. Packed my bags late in the morning and realised I have a long way to go to Bucharest to pick up my bestie for the ride. That being said, I posted a trip on BlaBlaCar and the great thing about this app is that so many people are actually using it to share rides for a small fee and I quickly got some bookings.

This time I was so lucky to have 2 lovely passengers – we shared lots of personal stories and really had a nice 2 hours trip. One of them was actually a Survivor TV-show finalist. I know, I know – you might judge me for not thinking this through for meeting new people during these times, but we wore masks and I offered them sanitisers to clean their hands. Moving on…

Once we got in the capital, we went to play cards (the usual) and drank some wine at one one of our mutual friends. Again, I got the first place (if you count from the bottom), haha, but it didn’t matter – we really ended the night super nice and had lots of fun. It was so nice to see my friends that evening. Spoiler alert: we might go for a road-trip in Turkey in April for a week 🤞

Day 1

Andrei packed his bags early in the morning, brew some more coffee for the long trip that was expecting us (~5-6 hours depends on traffic).

The trip was quite nice – we took Focșani – Bârlad – Vaslui – Iași route and got lucky to have no traffic and nice weather. Andrei was the DJ all the road so basically, he controlled the way I was driving. Only on the way back, I have realised he was doing it, not sure if on purpose, but it was kinda strange to be that coincidental. He played hip-hop, minimal & whatever is on Spotify trending these days only on straight roads, but when we got curves or hills to climb, he prepared jazz, soft-pop, chill house and I was slowly immersing in the mood. Kinda neat, ha?

First stop was in Buzău – don’t ask me why – we were just hungry and went to the closest McDonald’s to get something quick for the road. We then realise it wasn’t really a good idea to have such an early stop (I mean only after just an hour of driving haha).

On our way there, I think the city I liked the most was (drum rolls) – Iași. You really can’t compare it with anything. I didn’t really expect it to be so beautiful, so clean and most of all, the people were so nice, kind and had some kind of warmth in their eyes in general. Big thumbs up for that.

Got ourselves checked in via Airbnb in the City Center 😎and we go hungry again. Andrei lived in Iasi for about a year and I took his lead for some proper food. How else would you end your evening if not with burritos and quesadillas at Salsa?

No comments needed.

I went straight to bed after this…

… yeah, I know what you are thinking. But I was so so tired after a long road, and I tried to sleep, but I couldn’t even sleep. You know those times when you are tired, but can’t really fall asleep? Yeah… so I planned to go out for an evening stroll to clear out my mind and this is the first thing I saw once I got out:

Palace of Culture, Iași

Wow! How come I missed it on daylight? I was so amazed by the beauty of the building and strolled around it to get a better mental picture. The building served as Administrative and Justice Palace until 1955 and turned down after into a museum.

Oh well, I was getting more excited and couldn’t sleep but shortly after, Jack, we hit a road full with mulled wine, hot tea and plenty of sweats and hot bits to warm up. Dream.

Ștefan cel Mare Street

Got 2 cups of mulled wine and went straight back to bed. Let the dreams come through…

Day 2

Got a headache in the morning partially because of the wine, partially because of the weather, but it stopped quickly because, my dear reader, I got to taste the most amazing breakfast I had this year by far.

A perfectly seasoned royal eggs with avocado, salmon & creme de la creme – the hollandaise sauce on top of it. Make sure to check out Treaz si Nu if you ever come to visit Iasi.

Filled with good vibes and healthy food, our energy level reached high records and took us all to Copou Park. Got the pleasure to meet some of Andrei’s friends in Iași and did a pretty good team there. 15 degrees, beautiful landscapes, still thinking about that amazing breakfast we just had and we were surrounded by a botanical garden. What else does a man need to have a chilled Sunday afternoon?

It was almost like every negative emotion, I’ve ever felt was evaporating with each new ray of sun that trickled out over the horizon.

In the afternoon we ordered Chinese and started playing drinking games (feel the need to mention we are very close to Moldova and people here drink wine as they drink water). I still had to drive back home so we planned to drink until 6 pm so we can have “enough time for the wine to evaporate from our buddy” until 11 pm. Not sure how we ended up 4 bottles in a few hours, but I am blaming the food for blending in perfectly haha.

Chinese food to help with drinks
“Now you drink again with your right-hand and left-knee up” 🤪

Day 3

“Just one more glass” – that’s what I remembered in the morning saying, but we had so much fun that it didn’t really matter I was dizzy and didn’t want to hear anything. And it was Monday. And we have to work. Good thing I am freelancing and have a flexible calendar… so weird how Andrei was sober & fresh in the morning and went to get 2 cups of coffees for both of us from the coffee shop down the road. Some people really know how to pass a hangover without too much effort. Once I sipped from the coffee, got a brilliant idea.

As you can imagine I postponed everything for the next day, continued reading my book, got some Chinese again from the mall nearby and spent some time relaxing and catching up with my sleeping habit.

Later in the evening, duty called: card games again. At least this time we only had water and still had a good laugh playing Whist.

Day 4

Tuesday now and really have to catch up with work.

The thing I love and really helps me out when working in the mornings while travelling – a Venti Caramel Macchiato at Starbucks.

I spent the whole morning there catching up with all my clients one by one until Andrei came to see me with 2 coffee cups in his hands. He called earlier and I told him to meet me at Starbucks, inside. Not sure exactly what wasn’t clear in what I said, but he brought the coffees anyway haha. Sweat old Andrei.

At noon, I planned to spend the day visiting some popular churches and found those three in my 5-minute research:

  • Cetățuia Monastery
  • Metropolitan Cathedral Iași
  • Three Hierarchs Monastery

Used the above map to get to the destinations, but guess what…my roaming data was depleted and couldn’t contact anyone. So I had 2 options: go to the nearest coffee shop and sort this out or follow my instincts to reach the first destination? I love to get lost in a new city and find myself back after some time so I guess you know what option I chose 😛

The first 2 churches were very close to where I was when planning the day and once I got there I realised that 3 days ago I followed that street (Ștefan cel Mare) already when I couldn’t sleep.

The buildings were superb and I queued up for about 20 minutes to be anointed and got some holy water and sacramental bread for my family back home.

Getting to the Cetățuia monastery was a bit tricky for it was on top of a hill, isolated from the city, but I got there eventually. On the road, there were so many well-preserved vineyards. I asked around and found out the church is actually holding the lands and manage the wine productions there. 🍷

Later that evening we went out to a place called Bindu and treat ourselves with some well-deserved vegan burgers. Just look at them 🤤

Vegan burger and wine at Bindu

It was the first time I was getting a vegan burger and trust me, I couldn’t spot the difference. You should try them out.

Day 5

Oh well, we finally got here. Check out from AirBnB at noon, but not before treating us one last time with that absolute amazing breakfast the guys from Treaz si nu prepared. Had our bellies clapping out load, packed our bags and prepared for our way back home.

6 hours drive turned into 8 🙃

GPS was telling us we only have 6 hours to go, but trust me, it took us more than that…

Good vibes kicking in and Andrei is DJ-ing the whole road trip again – pop, minimal and rap. We both agreed to stop at some point near Galati to get a quick bite and it would be a fair middle point between Iași and Constanța.

Eventually, we stopped at Floarea Salcâmului, Popas Hanu Conachi and had again such an amazing unexpected food experience. The meatball soup was so sour and nice and our traditional “mititei” were mouth-watering.

3 hours left on the road and it started to snow heavily whilst we were eating. One hour later, we were close to Brăila and the road started to freeze out. Had some calls from close friends that most of the roads to Constanța would close and we only had 2 options – get an alternative route and stay in Bucharest or try our luck and get back home.

I always considered myself lucky and we both agreed there is nothing to worry about…

Half way back the road was getting frozen

… until we got ourselves stuck in the snow just 2kms away to the closest highway… luckily, 2 more cars got stuck in front of us and they were kind enough to help us turn back and get an alternative route.

In a way, I am sorry I didn’t think about taking a photo of the moment, but I am grateful we got out quickly and drove back home safe. The end.