I’ve been asked many questions about my travels in light of my grant and responsibilities here in Romania, so I’d like to share the following.
For my first semester in Bucharest, I taught on Tuesdays and Wednesdays; the other days usually were unscheduled and, therefore, available for traveling. Here in Cluj, the first half of my spring semester has a very compressed schedule. I teach Modern Drama for 138 third-year English minors, who are divided into three sections. All of these classes meet on Fridays; the rest of the week is open, unless I have meetings or am guest lecturing. After spring break, in addition to these three classes, I will be directing a musical for the graduate acting program, which will require rehearsals at least five days each week for our four-week “intensive” module. So, I have had lots of unscheduled time during this first half, and I have spent it traveling.
My travel goal/bucket list is to have visited all 40+ of Europe’s major countries before I return to the U.S. (I don’t include the “micro” states such as Lichtenstein, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino, etc., nor “Eurasian” countries such as Georgia and Armenia.) During earlier trips and my previous grant to Kosovo, I covered the majority of the major countries. Still remaining are Cyprus, which I will visit in a couple weeks, and Ireland (and Northern Ireland), which will consume my upcoming spring break.
I plan and pay for all my trips myself; neither Fulbright nor the Commission here funds any of these trips. To afford my travels, I usually fly discount airlines and stay in budget lodgings, all of which I book far in advance to secure the best prices. (I have had several trips with $100 round-trip flights and hotels averaging $60 or less per night.) Certainly, it all adds up, but traveling is my major expense during this grant year. Also, I saved up before I left the U.S. and even sold my car to have additional funds.
This past week, I visited Dubrovnik (Croatia) and Kotor (Montenegro). The Dalmatian Coast is spectacular; during the warm summer months, the coastal cities are overrun with tourists, and prices are high. For this reason, I visited during the off-season and, except for one day, enjoyed beautiful weather. I flew Turkish Airlines, which required overnight layovers in Istanbul, both going and coming, but the airlines provided free hotel, and I was able to revisit a few of my favorite spots and restaurants. Overall, this was one of my favorite trips, but I probably won’t undertake any more excursions that required overnight layovers.