Last night, in time for dinner, I met up here in Brasov with the rest of a party that my friend Mark had asked me to join. They had all flown to Bucharest - yesterday - where they had a tour round before what was evidently a long and tiring minibus journey: I felt lucky to have missed all that - transit rather than travel.
It's a novel experience for me, gaining admission to a group with an established chemistry, yet apparently willing to welcome an outsider into the magic circle. Judging from the conversations we are having, I am going to need to be on my mettle. Topics include 21st Century science, the multiverse, leaps of faith, technological fixes, and (of course) gay marriage. There is more than a hint of climate scepticism about, which could be tricky. However, the Alsatian moonshine I had brought with me went down well at the late evening session: most of us stayed up to sit outside the hotel in the great square on which Casa Wagner sits - the moon shining down on us.
We were sweltering rather when listening to the history of Brasov's bastion this morning on our tour of the bounds; but since lunch it has been pouring cats and dogs, and we had to scamper to avoid a thorough wetting as we crossed to our hotel. Until 1790, Romanians weren't allowed into the exclusively Saxon town of Brasov: hence, there is no Orthodox church within the old centre. We visited - briefly only (a service was beginning) - the Black Church, Europe's most Eastern Gothic building, before leaving the old city for the delightful first Romanian school (and a fine museum above it) a short distance outside the formidable Catherine's Gate: Vassily and Nic showed us round, the one ebullient as the other was taciturn.
Now we are sitting waiting, as parties do from time to time. My friend Richard is up to date on his postcards. Mark is deep into The Corrections, and... Oh, now we are off into the countryside!