Thursday, 12 August 2010

Whizzing across Europe

Here we are in Romania! Unbelievable that we are on our fourth day. But before I describe Romania, let me begin at the beginning...

We left London in a rush (no surprises), jumping on the Eurostar at 9am, and with no time we were in Paris. A glamourous start! We ambled around the Notre Dame area, and I remember it in greys and greens - the grey of the hot sky and the buidings, the green of the river. We hopped on the train to Munich that evening, but our connection in Stuttgart was delayed, and so instead of waiting late into the night, we stayed in Stuttgart. Lacking in energy and knowledge we stumbled into an Ibis hotel, and it was a real treat!

The next morning we got the train to Munich and hopped on the 7-hour train to Budapest, Hungary. What a rare joy that trip was! The rolling forests and blue mountains of Transylvania filled the windows and there was a snazzy bar area where we sat all day drinking Austrian 'limonade with herbs' - called Almsdudler, which we enjoyed because it sounds like Dudey.
We arrived in Budapest and began to feel like we were somewhere far away from England. We walked down wide dark streets to our hotel, with bars across windows and graffiti on large, imtimidating stone walls. The next we gravitated towards prettier parts of the city, drinking coffee & eating cheesecake for breakfast in 'Coffee Heaven' (YES!)

I found Budapest quite challenging. The poverty was quite clear, with some beggars just lying on the ground. It is difficult to know how much we can engage: we are tired, we want to rest. And yet it is impossible to switch our hearts off when we see hurt - love knows no holiday! Also the city itself we didn't really enjoy... glitzy shops, overwhelming stone and not a lot of smiles. Nick also had a cold and so for both of us, but particularly him, it was exhuasting walking around. I am glad we've moved on.

We hopped on the night sleeper to Bucharest today. (Leaving BuDaPest for BuCHaRest. Bucharest is in Romania. Nick got them slightly confused at the border when asked by the police where we were going. Thankfully I think the police weren't too upset.) We suddenly got our first wave of seriously intense heat as we got into our sleeper cabin. I prayed for help - it has been so AMAZING how God has helped me so far. I have felt his provision so tanglibly, and I am so grateful. He is the reason we are here - He called us AND ALSO provided everything we needed to afford it AND every day is providing the strength we need. He is so gracious, so unbelievable.
Back to cabin... leaving an hour late we hurtled through the countryside to Bucharest. This sleeper was SO much fun! It was such a buzz zooming through the night, chugidy chugidy... Not such a buzz being knocked on a couple of times for passports. And not a buzz at all having an enormous moth fly in the cabin and land on my arm! We didn't realise there was no food, and we were on the train from 7pm to 12pm the next day, but we didn't notice too much (maybe the heat helped!) and had enough water. We awoke to startling beauty - rivers and hills, dotted with incredible men working immensely hard in the heat. These men to me are like silent heroes! I have so much to learn from their lifestyle...

Bucharest is a wonderful city - we have had the most glorious day. Exploring a stunning park with messy pink flowers and a fountain, pottering around the cobbled old streets, where I bought a leather bag from a family who made it... Bucharest feels so much more relaxed, and people have been so smiley, so encouraging in their disposition. I would love to stay a little longer but we must zoom on to Istanbul tomorrow - on a seriously long sleeper train: 21 hours. Pray for us! I remember my Gran telling me as a little child 'you always occupy yourself Cate, you are good at finding things to do'. What an encouragment to draw on now! Crosswords, postcards, sermons, learning the guitar (!) - we will pull out all the stops for this next bit of our journey. And this time we will remember to bring food.

Yes, I do have a serious case of man flu which deserves much sympathy... One of our aims and prayers is that we´d meet and connect with people which is quite hard when you´re on the train most of the time. But we had a great chat with the french buffet carriage barman. He was telling us about how he´d been homeless for a year and how it was christians who´d helped him and how he respected what we were doing. He also said Bof a bit, which was quite funny, but nowhere near as funny as the sweet german ticket seller who said Shloop a lot with no sense of it being funny.

The journey has already been quite hard, we get a bit scratchy with each other when we get a bit stressed, but we always make up quickly and it's mainly really exciting and fun. If your interesed in the route, it is the blue one in this link (scroll down a bıt): Have run out of time in internet cafe, will write more next time. x