Well, it wouldn’t be a Eurotrip without a festival. Naturally, I found a festival that worked perfectly into our timing, schedule, and location. In my research I discovered that festivals aren’t just a huge thing in Western Europe; sure, Denmark has Roskilde, Belgium has Tomorrowland, Croatia has Ultra, and who knows how many the UK has, but Eastern Europe knows how to party too. I knew our timing wouldn’t work out with Hungary’s famous Sziget Festival, and we barely missed Serbia’s epic Exit Festival. So what did we end up with? Romania’s Electric Castle.
Not only was it one of Romania’s largest festivals, but its venue was at a Transylvanian castle. A freakin’ castle. How uniquely spectacular is that? To be specific, the festival takes place each year at Banffy Castle in the remote village of Bontida. While I’m sure the festival increases the economy for the locals, I still can’t help but pity the locals for having to deal with the wild partygoers and the perpetual bass.
Of the 4 days (Thursday through Sunday), we only opted for 2 days: Thursday and Friday. We love festivals and all, but we still had a packed itinerary ahead, and we weren’t roadtripping around Europe to party. Leaving early ended up being a blessing in disguise anyway, because the Saturday thunderstorms left the venue in a flooded disaster. Thursday ended up being the best (driest) day of the whole festival, with Friday seeing rainfall throughout the entire night. The rain didn’t dampen our experience, although I should add that having a motorhome for shelter instead of a dinky tent or awning is what likely kept us sane. As for the majority of the crowd, their home was a cramped tent.
There were only about 20 motorhomes, which highlighted the main issue: disorganization and unprofessionalism. Wow. For a festival of its scale, it was disorganized as hell. I assume the disorganization was a cultural issue; not only did the festival staff struggle with misinformation, but even the vendors showed the same issues. Details below:
Upon our arrival, we were asked to pay for parking.
“We have a RV camping pass,” we said.
“What is a RV camping pass?”
Surprised, we explained to him what it meant, even though we purchased the ticket from the website.
“Does the RV camping include parking?”
For some reason, he then directed us to drive through an area we clearly would not be able to drive through due to vertical clearance. We ended up reversing out of the area due to his misguidance, and the other volunteers just shrugged and ignored us. Without any clear direction on where to go or any fucks given from anyone, we continued down the gravel road. A security guy pointed us toward the camping area, which we quickly found out was the wrong way. Chris asked a handful of idle volunteers about RV camping, and none of them knew what to do. Finally a volunteer made a call, and another volunteer hopped into our motorhome to guide us to the RV area.
“This festival is so amazing,” she claimed. “I mean, I know everyone here, and that’s amazing because I’m only 17.”
Wow, I hope I didn’t sound like that when I was 17. At least she guided us to where we finally needed to be, which was nowhere near the camping area.
In addition to our clusterfuck of an arrival, there were plenty of other instances that showed just how misinformed everyone was.
There were numerous volunteers wearing Ask Me! shirts. We asked one girl if we could bring into the festival a CamelBak filled with water, and she replied, “I don’t know.” We then asked the security guys (who were completely useless) the same question, to which one guy snapped, “No water.” Then I asked two other girls in Ask Me! shirts, and they said we were allowed to bring in unopened bottles of water. To double check, we read the rules on their website, and it said that each person was allowed to bring up to 2 liters of water into the festival. The first volunteer didn’t know, the security guy was wrong, and the last two volunteers were slightly misinformed. Wonderful.
Within the festival were several vendors and booths selling food, drinks, clothing, souvenirs, etc. One booth was a hairstyling company, and when I asked if there was a fee for hairstyling, one stylist said no at the same time another stylist said yes. They then proceeded to clear things up with each other in Romanian in front of me.
In the food court, when I asked how many chicken wings came with an order of wings, one guy said 7 wings, and the girl next to him said 7 or 8. I left to get money, returned to order, and I got 5 wings. Fortunately, I told him the order should have come with 7 wings, and he quickly added 2 more wings.
Because we left the festival early, we didn’t witness the shit show after the storm. All the rain left people flooded for hours in the parking lot–an ordeal I’m glad we didn’t have to endure. Despite Electric Castle’s disorganization, unprofessionalism, and apparent issue with misinformation, we still had an AMAZING time. Awesome music, stunning light effects, cheap prices (€2.50 for a beer!), and best of all…our motorhome to shelter us from all the rain!
The daytime festivities surprised me because there weren’t actually any daytime activities. Unlike Burning Man, where people literally party nonstop all day and all night, Electric Castle by day was basically a giant picnic with people relaxing on hammocks or lounge chairs in the shade. Pretty damn mellow for a festival.
To my amusement, there was a hot air balloon that never actually rose, and a carnival swing that was only in use at night until it rained. And did I mention it rained a lot? Needless to say, that swing didn’t get used much!
I had never danced in the rain before…nevermind over 4 hours of nonstop rain. No one cared and everyone danced, and it was wonderful. In the end, all festivals and parties are what people make of them. The people could suck, the weather could be foul, the staff could be crap, but if the music is right, and the right company is there, it becomes a reminder of why we even go to festivals to begin with.