This Blog Post is about Seeing Awesome Horses in Romania
I promise, it really is about seeing horses in Romania. But I need to rant for just a minute.
High on Travel, Down on Blogging
Can I tell you a secret about blogging?
Um, bloggers suck.
Not every blogger, but the big world of “bloggers.”
Narcissistic. Competitive. Petty.
It’s a weird world, and after seeing so much of its ugly side last year, I retreated into my podcaster’s shell. I focused on the show and spent my spare time learning how to do videos for my Facebook page. I stopped writing about my travels, because if the post wasn’t going to be a perfectly-engineered SEO masterpiece, then it felt there wasn’t even a point to writing it.
And my blogging friends felt the same pressure, too. A lot of them took the opportunity at the end of the year to do roundups, and it seemed like a prominent theme to most of these was how nice it was to just talk about their trips again. So many of us got into travel blogging to be able to talk about what we love (and don’t) about travel, but it seems the only way to be successful is to pump out bullshit lists or sell shit to other bloggers. Or to focus religiously on getting pageviews up, even if those pageviews are to people who will never come back and don’t care about your site at all.
My response to that kind of pressure has been just to quit blogging. Sure the page exists, but I’m barely writing. I’m mostly doing podcast episodes because that’s my favorite thing in the world. My next favorite thing is focusing on the Facebook page because so many of you are there and have such great things to say. Then Instagram, because it’s fun even when it’s a vapid lifesuck. But I’ve written less than a dozen posts in the last six months that weren’t about the podcast.
That changes now. In 2018, I’m taking my blog back. I restarted the monthly reviews at the end of November, and I’m keeping them. And I’m going to post more about the stuff I like, even it if won’t rank on Google. Because it’s why I like blogging. You know the best post I have according to Google? This one about things to do in San Pedro, Belize. But it’s not even in the top fifty of my favorite posts for this blog. My favorite thing I’ve ever written about travel is this essay I did for Gary Arndt’s blog about visiting Transnistria, but I’ve never even thought about writing something that personal and void of tips for this page. Why?
Visiting Romania was Wonderful, but Also Hard
It was not hard because of being on a bus. It was not hard because of lack of wifi. It was not hard because other bloggers made crazy demands. It was hard because of shit like this. (Read all the way to the bottom to get the full picture). I met amazing people, but I was not capable of getting away from person/persons who put people’s safety in jeopardy. And while I’ve said a little bit about it here and here, I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to just come out and say everything that’s on my mind the way some people who are braver than me have been able to. Partly because the worst things didn’t happen to me directly, and partly because I feel scared to say it. I’ve already seen online cyberbullying by the event’s organizers of people who said far less than I have. (And that I’m not afraid to say because I have the screenshots to prove it).
Sidenote: I got a minor amount of sexual harassment on the trip. But I forgave that as part of the cultural differences you encounter when you travel to foreign countries. That is not what affected me so much or the kind of sexual harassment that made it difficult to interact on the trip. It was the much worse things that happened to other people and an inability (fear) of saying anything about it, combined with lots of other bullying behavior aimed at multiple trip members during the trip and after.
So instead of telling the whole story (other than through rage journaling), I’ve chosen to highlight the places in Romania that I loved. This includes the amazing painted churches in Moldavia and the gorgeous painted village of Ciaconesti. (Romanians love to paint things, huh?) Places that made me happy to be in such a beautiful country, even if I couldn’t change the circumstances under which I was there.
And none of this has anything to do with the country, which again is lovely and you should definitely visit.
Starting with the Horses Now
And that brings me to Potcoava, because I absolutely loved spending a day with horses, surrounded by the Carpathian mountains. This came on the very last day of the trip, when I was at my lowest spirits, and it was absolutely wonderful. I’m starting to think that I should incorporate horses into more of my travels.
Also, if you’re ever in Bucharest, you should take a day trip or overnight out to Potcoava. It’s a few hours from the capital, and you can do some amazingly cool horse-related activities out there. Like ride them. And train them. And see horse shows. Just call ahead so you know the schedule of events and can book the activities you want to do. (Don’t let the Romanian website scare you-just email or call. They speak wonderful English. It’s refreshing though, to travel to a place that is advertising so much more heavily to locals than foreigners).
When I was there, I got to do a little bit of horse training with Stuart, the sweetest, hippest horse outside of Iceland:
I also got to take a short trail ride with Isabella, a horse who really, really wanted to be at the front of the pack. About halfway through the ride, the guides brought her (and me) to the front, because she effing hated being at the back of the line. Isabella is a horse that likes to Lean In.
At the end, I got to watch a special liberty training session from the famous Spanish horse trainer (horse whisperer?) Miron Bococi. That man can do amazing things on horseback.
I travel to see the historic places I used to just read about. I write about history and travel because I love writing it (it’s what my degree is in, after all). I’m going to write some things for Google, sure. But I’m going to go back to sharing some things just because I love them and want you to see them. And if Google doesn’t see them, that’s okay.
And I think I’ve fully exorcised my Romania demons. We’ll see.