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Hello! Back in May, I went to Romania (specifically: Transylvania; even more specifically: Sighisoara, the fortified town where Vlad the Impaler was born).

That yellow house? That's apparently where Vlad was born. For a small fee you can go into the very rooms! The rooms are dressed with a coffin, lots of drapes, and a large dining table. I'm sure it's very authentic.

Romania was very inexpensive, and I kept costs even lower by staying in a hostel. My room was accessed through a classroom (odd) but the classroom itself had a beautiful ceiling:

This is the view down the street, through one of the classroom windows:

The view from my room itself? JUST A LITTLE CREEPY:

Of all the things I was prepared for in Romania, CREEPY EYE DORMERS WAS NOT ON THE LIST. Apparently they're typical of the region. Of course they are.

^^in Sibiu, where I stayed my first night

There were thunderstorms every afternoon for the whole week I was there, but after a few grey days the weather either side of the storms was glorious:

That's the view from the town clocktower, which I had to pass under every day to get to the conference. The conference venue itself was accessible via a tourist information point. Many Torchwood jokes were made.

I think that's supposed to be a giant wine bottle in the shape of Vlad the Impaler's head? On a cart?

I was in Romania for a conference, and through a strange chain of events I ended up catching a lift back to Sibiu with a film producer checking out some locations. I tagged along while they checked out this location:

A fortified church, with good tower action:

And pleasantly overgrown ~bits:

All in all, it was a good trip. It was my first time in Eastern Europe - enjoyed the food, it's not terribly expensive, and most of the medieval/Saxon architecture has survived in between the occasional 20th-c dictatorial concrete. When I was there a new rail line was being put in alongside an ageing service, which meant I was on a two-lane highway looking at the new tracks under construction, while horse-drawn carts piled high with hay made their way along the roadside.

I didn't get a good picture, but the majority of houses in small villages lining the highway had crosses or other religious iconography. Unlike the creepy dormer windows, that was something I was hoping to see! I'm happy that stereotype was true.

If the conference runs again next year - the organisers want to make it an annual event - I may go back. Definitely the kind of conference destination that's easy to make into a short vacation, but whether I have another conference paper's worth of thoughts about vampires, that's another story. :D

Otherwise, I've been up to lots of things. Very busy. In June I started three new jobs almost simultaneously (WOW, STRESSFUL), and I'm currently in a few free days in between hosting my mother for two weeks (she left on Wednesday morning) and a friend who's mostly disappeared from the internet so I can't tag her here (who arrives tomorrow night).

Two of the three jobs are fractional limited-term post-doc contracts that pay almost enough for subsistence. The third is a reception/box office/occasional House Manager job at a small local theatre company; part-time hours there covers the rest of my costs. The general director there is like a chilled-out young granddad Darren Nichols, it's great. However, the quest for one (1) full-time job continues. Tonight I'll bash out another job application.

(I'm also being a bit willfully self-destructive and am still casual staff at my old theatre job. I probably shouldn't agree to take on shifts there, and instead should prioritise my academic development. Write a book proposal, develop a five-year research plan, apply for more jobs.)

So - I've been busy! Too busy to watch things. Seriously, it's ridiculous how little time I've allowed for watching things. I miss things! I've got a list, though, a list and ~hope for some mythical free time. :D

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