Most, if not all of my travels are active. I don’t have holidays where I rest, because I always seek to go in a new place, see and walk as much as possible, visit as many museums, go from place to place, try to understand the past, present and future of that place, take pictures, eat traditional food and talk to the locals. If, during my travels, at the end of a day I am not deadly tired, then it has not been a good enough day. Jokes left aside, I consider myself an active traveller, not the sort of tourist that in the summertime just goes to a resort to sleep, lie on a lounge chair and get tanned, eat tones of food from the all-inclusive hotel and return home the same person as before (only fatter and with darker skin).
This June, though, I experienced something different from any of the two situation described above. Together with a handful of fellow travel bloggers, I went to Vama Veche, a Romanian seaside resort on the shore of the Black Sea, close to the border with Bulgaria, to take part in the opening of a beach bar & hostel. I say it was different not because the trip didn’t include active moments (oh, it had, and I will write all about them in a future post), but because our destination was one of the few (if not the only) Romanian summer resorts I had avoided for all my life. Commonly known as a place for students, backpackers and hippies, I never felt to fit in there…until now.
This year I stepped on the Vama Veche beach for the first time and it felt nothing different from the other beaches I ever stepped on: – sand, shells, some small stones and, from place to place, some cigarette butts and algae shipwrecked on the beach. The water – just as black and blue as anywhere; the sun – the same that shines over any other city and resort. However, every Friday, my Facebook wall fills with statuses from people who get in their cars, in trains or buses, heading steadily – but with a certain restlessness in their souls – to this place that has become a legend. Heading to Vama Veche, not to any other city or resort. I have been a small part of this mass of people, one that didn’t resonate with anything because I didn’t know what to expect from this new destination. The sea is not my favourite, and Vama Veche, from the stories I heard, didn’t seem like my type of place either. But as I was getting closer, in my blood started to boil a mixture of curiosity and fear. Will I like it? Will we accept each other or reject ourselves absolutely and permanently…until next time?
We introduces ourselves tentatively, without getting to light the best of us. I was sleepy and tired; she was empty and deserted, on Friday at noon. A beach seduced and abandoned, which opens its arms every Friday for those she knows for sure won’t be there on Monday. I soaked her thirst for people with a beer, and later with a delicious fish soup (or borsch), both of which I drank in charming places, with sand under my feet, in a shipwreck atmosphere. With your stomach full, you seem to be more open for the place’s beauties, so I had a tour of the resort. We started from a totemic pillar and the tents, crossing the beach through the “courtyard” of places, bars and restaurants whose name are now part of the resort’s history: Stuf, Molotov, Amphora, Expirat, La Canapele, Papa La Șoni, Bibi, Cherhana. We got lost in an area of tents, cottages and hammocks hidden among the trees and we returned home. A powerful – but true – word for a place that hosted us for 2 nights: Pura Vida Beach Bar & Hostel. It was a place where the smell of new, the cheerfulness and the internationalism were in the air.
When the night fell, we stayed at the hostel’s bar, sipping our drinks with the straws directly from cute vividly coloured little buckets (yes, buckets!) and watching the crowd clustering around the totemic pillar. It was like a lamp around which everybody gathered, just like butterflied attracted by the light. Students, hippies, rebels, just-want-to-leave-everything-behind-ers formed a Bohemian mass of people who, as they emptied their beer bottles, looked more and more like a cluster of swarming bees, excited by heat. Almost tribal dances, meaningless, redemptive, together with unknown people who, for a night or two, become your family, your friends or your lovers, people who fall from the bliss of ecstasy to the deepest sleep.
Vama Veche is a state of mind and a way of being, not a place. It’s not my way of being, but it did teach me a lot of lessons. It made me understand that every destination you visit helps you discover, understand and define yourself better. It taught me that you can see and live extraordinary things where you least expect this to happen and that people around you are more important than where you are or why you are there. Because no shared breakfast, sea sunrise and walk on the beach ever happens when you are alone. And this was something I shared with Anca Argeșiu, Catherine from Catherine’s Road, Sorin Rusi, Iulian Sîrbu, Tudor Maxim, Mirabela Tiron and Cristian Pulpea, Andrea David, Diana Slav, Alina Cioponea, Noemi Pîrșcoveanu, Desiree Halaseh, Nicky Predescu, George Moga, Lucian Hirsu, Cezar Partheniu, Dragoș Nedelcu, Ștefania and Mircea Arghir.
More pictures from Vama Veche, in my Facebook album Heaven for Sinners. 😀