Before I tell you any thrilling stories about Romania, I first want to answer a question that we have been asked frequently:

 "Why in the world are you in Romania?" 

(You would be surprised how many of the people who have asked us this question are actually Romanians.)

To tell the truth, we arrived here with very little context for being in this country. We have a friend back home who grew up in Cluj-Napoca, a large university city in the region of Transylvania. She told us that we could go and stay in her family home - who would say no? That was enough for us to slot it into our travels, and we were excited to go.

Turns out, from the little we have seen, Romania may be one of Europe's best kept secrets. Jacob and I both thought on the first day that Cluj feels and looks like a mini-London. The city is cosmopolitan, filled to the brim with trendy but inexpensive restaurants and cafes. The people (as a whole) are friendly and impeccably dressed. The city is beautiful, easily accessible, clean, and you don't need to sell your firstborn to take a taxi home.

Enough of my sales pitch. Suffice to say we really like it here.

We arrived in Cluj around midnight after a full and frustrating day of travel from Turkey. As it turned out, our friend's brother Sam would be sharing the house with us while he auditioned for the Romanian State Opera. We thought it sounded very glamorous to hang out with an opera singer.

Sam and his friend Danny (also visiting Cluj from America), immediately took us under their social wing. We were personally shown around the city, taken to cafes, introduced to friends, and shuttled to church. Sam and Danny left after a few days, leaving us with a built-in network of friends. The kindness and hospitality we have encountered while here has been astounding.

In the short time we have been here we have attended a pro soccer game, a pro basketball game, and the opera Carmen (the lead Tenor was Sam's cousin). We've also attended a concert and gone on a road trip to the Hungarian border with new friends.

We have spent a lot of time walking, sitting in cafes, cooking, working, and spending time with friends. It's almost like we have a normal life.

Now that you know why we are in Romania, I promise the next blog post will be more interesting. (And it will be coming in just a couple days!)

Picture time.
(My apologies to those of you who follow my Instagram or Facebook - you'll have seen these pictures before. I haven't carried around my camera too much in the past week or so.)

Wandering around the city center

Afternoons in a cafe with friends

Central Park
Orthodox Cathedral in the city cent

The Cluj State Opera House

Cluj (CFR) vs. Brasov soccer game, as a thick evening fog began to roll in.