A Travellerspoint blog

Romania

Rainbows over Romania

We found our pot of gold!

sunny 24 °C

Well our side trip to Romania certainly was worth the effort to get there! To explain about this side trip I will tell you a quick little story. In 2006 John and I had traveled to Crete and spent a day in Elafonisi which is to me still the most beautiful beach I have ever seen. It lies at the southwest tip of Crete on the Libyan Sea. While on Crete that trip we met a family who I stayed in contact with over the years. They invited us back in 2012 so we returned. After our visit with them in the North East, we did some other touring around and returned to Elafonisi for 3 days. We met a lovely young woman named Elena who was working there. Elena is from Romania and was working at a taverna/pension on the beach (the only one there I might add). She was working there in order to earn better money for her family than she could earn in Romania. This was her second full season away from her husband and 2 young children and she was really missing them. We stayed in touch over the last 5 years and thankfully Elena only spent one more season away from her family after our visit. She used her earnings partially to expand greenhouses on a family property. When I told Elena we would be in Eastern Europe she asked us to visit and Kellie and I were planning this from the outset.

Now Elena, Catalin and their beautiful children Teodora and Edy live in Northeastern Romania. How to get there from Hungary? For a Canadian perspective it would be like traveling from Calgary to Vancouver. We returned to Budapest from Tokaj region to take one train 7 hours to the Romanian town of Timorsoara and then a fifteen hour evening/night train to Pascani. The train travel was a story all on its own, including feuding drunks, sleeping on different seats throughout the night, Kellie being awoken over and over again to have the tickets checked, etc, etc - paint your own picture! One thing Kellie wants to mention here is the sight of me sleeping upright with a shirt over my head (to keep the train lights off my face), head bobbing as if I'd been hung. She really wanted to take a picture of this macabre vision but was too tired!

We were warmly met by Elena and Catalin at the Pascani train station. The children were at school until noon so Elena made us a wonderful breakfast all from their own produce. Kellie and I took our first bite of their greenhouse tomatoes and looked at each other astonished saying at the same time, "this is the best tomato I have ever tasted in my life!" Incredible!

Once the children returned, shy greetings were the order with them too nervous to practice their English. Edy dazzled us with his skills using a local Romanian toy and after a bag was packed for the family, we took off in the van for a 2 day amazing tour. Romania is stunning! So many landscapes and things we had never seen. Unique to this countryside in the NE are the following: haystacks ( old fashioned kind with stick in the center supporting the weight of the hay piled in a pyramid shape); beautiful housing architecture with no 2 houses the same; elaborate eavestrough systems stylized ornately; horse and buggies carting anything imaginable; huge cows tied in front yards; traditional handicrafts;

We drove to a region which housed a fort from the 1400s. Kellie had to stay behind and drink cappacino as the trek to the fort was steep and lengthy. The fort was a major stronghold under Stefan the Great's reign and repelled Turkish and Tartar forces. We then drove to a spectacular privately owned museum called Museum Popa where a man's lifetime collection of artifacts and his unique carvings were displayed. Neculai Popa was an eclectic sculptor and collector of archaeological evidence, icons, nave paintings and sculptures with numerous masks of his designs. At the museum we were taken around by Popa's daughter who was knowledgeable and helpful answering all of our questions, as well as explaining the cultural significance of the masks. We were also given a short performance by her using a goat body-type puppet that is tradionally used on December 31st in celebrations. We have taken a short video that hopefully we can post (when WiFi is strong enough). Once Shelley and I saw this goat, we immediately recognized this icon from a busker that was performing in Prague, some of you may remember the video we posted, which we found very funny.

Upon leaving this interesting and special place, it was off to the mountain region to find a place to sleep for the night. The drive was scenic and even though I kidded with Catalin about his fast driving, we saw some wonderful scenes so representative of this area of Romania. It was so cool to still see the traditional use of horses, people walking their cows on a lead ( getting them to another pasture we guessed) and the numerous styles of houses that I know Shelley mentioned previously but it needs mentioning again! Some styles were ornate styles looking more Turkish, while others were decorated with stucco appliques that provided decoration above windows and doors, and sometimes over complete walls. To talk about the sights here one must also mention the flowers! Gardens and beautifying individual homes is definitely one priority here. Lovely roses and Dahlias and other colorful flowers were abundant as we drove through on our way to the mountain lodge. Despite not being able to stay where Elena had hoped, due to the fact the place required a two night minimum stay (which we all thought was crazy given they had many rooms available and there were 6 of us in total and would also be eating and drinking there), we managed to settle in at a lovely traditional motel. This place was a great choice where the attending staff allowed Shelley and I to bring in our wines from Hungary to share for dinner. I was excited to try the Cabernet Franc I purchased from the Eger region, while Shelley opened her late harvest white from the Tokaj region. The wine was enjoyed by all, and we tried some traditional Romanian Raki. Dinner was of Romanian styled pork (smoked) with chicken and mushrooms in a cream sauce. Dinner here in Romania is also nothing without polenta! Yummy :).

When we got up in the morning we walked to the Monastery of Voronet. Elena explained that the blue color used was specific and called the " blue of Voronet." This monastery from 1488 was stunning! Outside there were murals of saints still in very good condition. Inside the murals were very well preserved and so beautiful. The domed roof was spectacular. We left this region to travel to another monastery called Humor. There is a new orthodox church built beside the old monastery here. Elena asked the priest if we could see the new church first and he unlocked it for us. Brand new murals greeted us here. Then we went into the old monastery built in 1530 for nuns and even got to watch some restoration work in progress. A beautiful drive into the Carpathian mountain range showed more of the beauty of this region of Romania. We left quickly though as we still had to go to Elena's parents for dinner and get Catalin off to work for his night shift. Dinner at the family home was super. Elena's mother had made traditional food which was delicious and we had Raki and wine made by her father. We saw the family chickens and Vietnamese pot bellied pigs. Before going back to Elena's apartment we visited their greenhouses, 4 very large structures growing the world's best tomatoes. Elena and Catalin work very hard at their greenhouses outside of their day jobs. We slept at their apartment and said our goodbyes to Elena early in the morning before she went to work and waited for Catalin to return from his night shift to take the children to school before driving us to the next town for our 6 hour bus to Bucharest. We stopped at their local corner store to buy some food for the bus and were astonished to see an advertisement on the store window for Cedar Creek wines made in the Okanagan! "It's a small world after all...."

We want to thank Elena, Catalin and their family for a most excellent time with them and their corner of Romania. Kellie and I both agree that a return trip to Romania is necessary! Thank you, thank you, thank you! Xoxoxo.

View from the fort

View from the fort

Teodora and Edy in the armory

Teodora and Edy in the armory

Stefan 1st

Stefan 1st

Church in fort

Church in fort

From left - Elena, Teodora, Edy and Catalin

From left - Elena, Teodora, Edy and Catalin

Horse and foal at Popa museum

Horse and foal at Popa museum

Masks in background

Masks in background

Traditional masks

Traditional masks

More masks

More masks

Traditional clothing

Traditional clothing

Neculai Popa

Neculai Popa

Exterior wall of Voronet monastery

Exterior wall of Voronet monastery

Shelley and Elena Voronet

Shelley and Elena Voronet

Outside Voronet

Outside Voronet

Inside the monastery

Inside the monastery

Domed roof Voronet

Domed roof Voronet

Elena's parents home eavestrough

Elena's parents home eavestrough

Edy and Teo in grandparent's corn crib

Edy and Teo in grandparent's corn crib

Elena's parents yard

Elena's parents yard

Shelley and a beautiful ceramic soba for heating house with wood

Shelley and a beautiful ceramic soba for heating house with wood

Romanian haystack

Romanian haystack

Double ended rainbow

Double ended rainbow

Humor monastery

Humor monastery

Humor monastery

Humor monastery

Humor monastery

Humor monastery

Humor monastery

Humor monastery

Humor monastery

Humor monastery

Humor monastery

Humor monastery

Outside old Humor Monastery

Outside old Humor Monastery

Beautiful roses

Beautiful roses

Humor monastery

Humor monastery

Icon

Icon

New Humor monastery

New Humor monastery

Inside monastery

Inside monastery

Inside new monastery

Inside new monastery

Tower monastery grounds

Tower monastery grounds

Long haired Romanian sheep

Long haired Romanian sheep

Carpathian mountains

Carpathian mountains

Elena and Shelley in the mountains

Elena and Shelley in the mountains

Mountain peak

Mountain peak

Old monastery

Old monastery

Monastery roses

Monastery roses

Elena, Teo and Shelley

Elena, Teo and Shelley


Double ended rainbow

Double ended rainbow

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tE63aR12v1w
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZrdJWHNIxw
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WfdLnNMUNk8
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rag4p14aEkI
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F5DpH6wX2sw

Posted by kelshell 21:02 Archived in Romania Comments (2)

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