“I’ve been traveling for the past 2 years and I’ve been through almost all the balkan countries. And, because I heard only good things about Romania, I decided to give it a shot as well. So, I’ve looked it online, I found a cheap flight and I here I go!
When I first got here in January, there were around -9 degrees Celsius outside and I was like “This is a fantastic place, I love it already!” said Nick Baker laughing at the memory of a cold Romanian winter day. We believe he didn’t change his opinion and in order to make sure, we decided to go through a short interview in which we’ll explore his experiences, his favorite aspects of Romania and we’ll even ask him for some suggestions for aspiring travelers just like yourself!
So fasten your seat belts and get ready for a fantastic imaginary adventure through the mysterious lands of Transylvania.
“Firstly, with a couple of friends, I went down to Sibiu, where I was lucky to find a vibrant nightlife, then off to Brașov with its enormous mountains and all the medieval castles, and finally to Sighișoara, which I found to be very tiny. I’ve come to find Transylvania to be a really nice place, probably because of the very friendly atmosphere.”
When asked about his favorite things about Romania, he questionless mentioned the weather and the people: “I really liked the snow – in the UK we don’t get much” and “the people here are very friendly: you can walk to anyone and they’ll chat with you for ages”.
And when talking about Cluj, he emphasized the bars and the rich nightlife naming them some of the city’s best aspects. He also added that “through the hostel I got the chance to go to amazing quirky places that I found really fascinating, such as Shadow, where you get amazed by what you can find when you are not expecting anything at all or Atelier where everything is made out of cardboard.”
Nick came to Cluj, fell in love with the city and now will join our hostel team this summer. He will help us run Transylvania Hostel smoothly and share a place in our family & hearts. He says that “the hostel is very close knit and the people are very sociable with each other. Every evening we would gather for the Pălinca Tasting, getting everybody interested in the night, and we’d go out for restaurants and a couple of bars. I believe that this very thing makes people just mingle.” He also added that “Not encouraging drinking but encouraging socializing is the ideal thing for a solo traveler in my eyes”.
“What drives you to travel?” we asked.
“I don’t want to go home!” immediately answered Nick laughing, and then added “When I first started it was just a drive to get out of the UK. Now it is a drive to see unusual things, to see something that nobody back home has ever experienced.
I quit my job in 2016. I had a month to get rid of my stuff, to sell my car and take the minimum amount of things to my mom’s place for storage. That and then my savings plus the volunteer work that I’ve done all across Europe helped me to go on with my travels.
With time, I came to realize that, beyond exploring, traveling has taught me self-confidence. Up until 24 I was terrified of most things. It I would have been in this situation 2 years ago, I wouldn’t have spoken to people. So I feel like, on a personal level, I have opened myself up and I am now able to interact with a whole range of people, of different nationalities and cultures. I’ve been able to open my own mind to new things and gain that confidence to want to talk to people. “
We believe that the realization of the change in the mindset and of the unique opportunities that come along with traveling are things that would drive anybody to go out there and explore. Nick added as well that “Later, I also came to realize that our education system is not satisfactory: they introduce you to some things but they don’t explore them properly. There’s no intention to help open people’s minds. There’s no emphasis on teaching yourself anymore.
Traveling has taught me that as a child you’re not introduced to everything that is available to you. So you should go out there and explore it yourself.
Therefore, traveling has opened my mind to new possibilities and new experiences.”
We were very curious to find out his favorite country, and, surprisingly, he went for Montenegro: “I was staying by the coast. Just imagine: I’ve got the sea in front of me and, when I turn around, I’ve got the mountains as well – for me that was very nice! I thought to myself: I can come back here in 20-30 years time, bring a motorbike, build a little shack on the coast and ... I can just spend the rest of my days here!”
As concerning his bucket list, Nick said that his biggest dream is to travel South America: to get a little van and go to all the tiny little countries. What a wonderful dream we’d say!
And, as we promised, we asked him for a suggestion for aspiring travelers so that you can learn from his mistakes and have the best adventure ever!
Therefore, he said “Do some research”. He immediately explained with: “When I first started traveling I supposed that I know the places that I’m going to and so I’ll also know the amount of time that needs to be spent in each of them. Therefore I booked everything in advance… If I have researched a little bit, I would have known that I only need a couple of says here, and that 2 weeks won’t be enough in the other place. And because I have already booked everything in advance, I actually needed 2 weeks in the first place and only a couple on days in the other. So I missed out on a lot.
Nowadays I do a little bit of research before I go to a country: usually a little bit on the language (Yes, No, Thank You, Please … Help … ) and then some laws and rules, because sometimes they can shock you! And also when I’ll arrive into a city I’ll look at things to see – be it through a walking tour or be it through websites and blogs. This way, I found out about the Salt Mines in the Cluj county, about the Haunted Forest and other unique places to go to.
So, I’d say: do a little bit of research, but not enough to ruin your experience. Just enough to bring an interest.”
We are very happy to have Nick in our hostel family, to share a bed and meal with him and to laugh together at the odds. If you want to be like Nick, join our family, be an adventurer and come explore the mysteries of Transylvania!
And, don’t forget to do a little bit of research!
by Eva Bunici
for Humans of Transylvania Hostel