ROMANIA IN PICTURES
FOR MORE ON MY ROMANIAN ADVENTURES, SEE THE BLOG ARCHIVES.
BOTIZA, WHERE THINGS CHANGE VERY, VERY, VERY SLOWLY
Maramures County, Romania
Our comfortable guest house, with all the modern conveniences.
A creative, but extremely hazardous way to arrange the top of the stairway. This shows the route from the bathroom to our bedroom, where in the dark of night, the curved stairs are an open invitation to fall to your death. Flashlight and caution are advised.
A first for me: seersucker sheets. Not uncomfortable, just a bit more texture than I'm used to in bed linens.
New trend: exclamation points on the graves; no doubt influenced by social media! Here it's common to arrange for your burial well in advance, as this person did!
MARAMURES COUNTY, Northwestern Romania
An animal market, testing the local fruit brandy, visiting the old wooden churches
These are hardy folk.
Recognizing the resemblance, the pig seller said, referring to himself and the piglet, "The big one and the little one!" And laughed uproariously.
The brown pigs are raised on a special vegetarian diet and are said to be very low in cholesterol, much like Spain's jamón Iberico.
Yes, I am starting to feel the effects...
Women here are expected to embroider all this and more before they are married. Luckily, that isn't required in my culture or I would still be single.
The priest at Desetsti, one of the traditional old wooden churches that are now UNESCO World Heritage sites; this one was built in 1770.
In the box at the right, you can see a wooden block with a cross, supposedly a natural phenomena discovered when the wood was split for firewood; now considered a semi-miracle.
SIGHISOARA, Birthplace of Vlad the Impaler
Now a tacky tourist attraction, this was the birthplace of Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia (1431–1476), aka Vlad the Impaler, also known by his patronymic name: Dracula. Bram Stoker gave this name to his fictitious vampire in the 1897 novel.
Upon entering Transylvania, Rich added a small cross to the chain he wears around his neck with a flash drive and small pen knife. My form of defense? I eat food with lots of garlic in it...
Rich is convinced this isn't a real city, it's the set for Game of Thrones.
Although Sighișoara is a very hygienic town, they aren't too fussy when it comes to low budget TP (about 13 cents a roll), the kind the bathroom attendant at the train station hands you a strip of when you pay 30 cents to use the restroom. You can see the marketing advantage of the brand on the shelf above.
We stayed in the blue building across from the church.
Rich became a big fan of the very popular bakery Gigi, where they sell traditional corvigi, big round pastries stuffed with cherry or apricot jam.
Petőfi Sándor, the famous Hungarian poet born in Sighișoara (back when it was part of Hungary) and the inspiration for the hair style of Ace Ventura, Pet Detective.
Established in 1211, population 512
The ride to Augustin en route to Miklósvár. Rich snapped this discreetly with his phone, but it doesn't capture the atmosphere; for more see my blog post, "But Is It Safe?"
We stayed at one of Count Kálnoky's guest houses.
Our room at the guest house; from our windows, we could watch the cows coming home every evening at sunset.
Our room had garlic over the door and a rosary over the bed.
Etelka (77) lives in a storybook cottage and with her two sons operates a mill powered by a stream.
Monica brought Etelka tulip bulbs, a gift from an Irish couple who had been bitten by one of Etelka's dogs when en route to her earthen outhouse. Etelka's son pauses in his work to listen to the explanation of how to plant the bulbs.
We went for a ride in a horse cart with Imalow and a driver. When we reached this meadow dotted with mushrooms from the previous day's rain, he stopped and gathered up an armload to take home to his wife.
These two shepherds live most of the year in the hills with their flock, milking all 400 sheep three times a day. They make cheese in a nearby hut.
The local blacksmith, who is hired to feed a group of about 30 wild boars every other day, to help them survive as part of a hunting preserve.
It was a chilly, rainy day in the Saxon village of Vascri, and I was thrilled to buy a woolen hat from this woman. It was a bit scratchy but extremely warm, and I have been wearing it all over the Transylvania mountains ever since.
In the old Saxon churches, the men sat against the walls in a protective circle around the women and children. Young women were at the back, the oldest in these front pews by the paintings known as the black angels. Even today people refer to old women as "sitting with the black angels."
Waiting for the train from Augustin back to the city of Brosov. We were warned that it rarely left on time and they were right. We spent quite a long time hanging around in this drafty room. Most of the station was closed up, and at one point Rich left in search of a restroom. He returned a good while later looking shaken. "Yes, I found one, in the signalman's hut." He shuddered. "Don't even think about it. It may be the all-time worst." And that, my friends, is a very low bar indeed.
Former home of Vlad the Impaler
Not too proud to steal an idea from Hollywood...
A statue of Vlad the Impaler and one of his beloved dogs, which he used to track down poachers so he could impale them. This statue is on a church dedicated to hunters, and I am sure the congregation finds it inspiring.
An unusual way to draw attention to your bakery.
A bank in the main square is decorated with faces featuring fangs in an homage to Dracula, after the book came out in the 19th century.
Brosov claims this is the third narrowest street in Europe, after ones in London and Germany, but I have seen tighter fits than this in Seville.
Our cozy apartment, which had the advantage of letting you sit in one place and pour more tea, fetch a beer from the fridge, toss things in the trash ... all without ever getting out of your chair. Brilliant!
(Please don't call it Budapest)
The charming if slightly scary old elevator in our apartment.
Our apartment overlooked the museum of George Enescu, Romania's most famous composer.
We were lucky enough to get invited to a gathering of the Bucharest Hash House Harriers one evening (which happened to be my birthday). These people definitely know how to party!
An old-fashioned cottage preserved in a city park.
We were told to beware of the local dogs, which run in packs and attack pedestrians. Most of the dogs we saw were sleeping, although a Pekinese did growl at Rich once; no one was hurt in the incident.
Romania now has plastic money with an unusual see-through section.
The brutal style of apartment Ceausescu built for the people.
The palace he built for himself.
Ceausescu had the main staircase rebuilt three times to make sure it precisely fit the size of his feet.
Our last view of Bucharest, as we pulled out of the station in the rain.