Time to gush about how enchanting we found Romania. If only the photos could capture the gush-worthiness we experienced in person…
There was one exception to the enchantment. Romanian drivers. I have written on one or two or several occasions about the aggressive and impatient Viennese drivers I routinely encounter. Romanian drivers are Viennese drivers with an added speedy and recklessly dangerous flair. Even truck drivers do not adhere to road rules.
Only a brief delay at the frontier crossing, too. The immigration officers studied on, and then took our passports to the office for further consideration. We suspected we were a curiosity–there probably haven’t been many Americans crossing the small border in a foreign personal vehicle. Thankfully, unlike other vehicles at the border, ours was not emptied and searched.
Rural Romania is indeed a journey back in time. How I wish I could have wandered slowly through a village, absorbing life with my eyes and my camera.
Village babas in babushkas were out and about, working and gossiping. None of them ever seemed to be smiling, however.
Brightly colored Romas were going about their day.
For one passenger in the car in particular, there could not possibly have been too many horse carts on the road.
Why the French license plate, we could not guess. Visitors?
Livestock along the road seemed ordinary, and keeping an eye out for roaming poultry while driving was critical. Poor City Hound Clayton Theodore could not decide from which side of the car to bark!
Nesting storks were a treat. Each village through which we passed had at least one or two nests, often with hatchlings peeking out.
In rural areas in particular, tradition holds for families to hang their kitchenware from the tree, not only to dry, but to display the wealth of the family. The more hanging kitchenware, the wealthier the family.
Romania’s rural architecture was a visual feast. Silver-domed monasteries and churches were sprinkled across the landscape along with an occasional red-domed church for surprise; and private homes ran the gamut from large to small, and with silver-trimmed roofs to mosaic-tiled fronts to simple painted concrete structures, with many varieties in between.
Not every scene was delightful. Though Anna Grace and I much appreciated a clean ladies public WC, we weren’t expecting such old world character. Men have it so easy.
Our “journey back in time” experience gained authenticity on our first evening in Romania. The guest house in Sapanta was updated with (mostly) modern amenities, and the meals prepared by our host were, in our opinion, stellar representations of Romanian cuisine (more on the food later, of course). Just after dinner, however, the electricity shut down. Across the entire village. So much for my soak in the tub and some light reading to wind down the evening. At the late, late hour of 20:30 we were left with apologies and two small tea lights to guide us in our room. No Internet, no television, and insufficient hot water (the water pump was electrically-powered) for my desired soak, just barely enough water at all for us to brush our teeth. “Just like the Social Times,” we joked between ourselves.
Throughout the night the UPS device in the living room, that was theoretically powering the water pump, emitted warning beeps every 2 seconds. Clayton Theodore was officially wigged out and slept on top of us, while Anna Grace had an entire double bed all to herself. Eventually Tony and I fell asleep, to be awakened by the squeal of venting hot steam into the house when the boiler dried out (the pump ran out of auxiliary power) and the steam relief opened when the power was restored.
Ours wasn’t the most restful nights’ sleep, and we had a startling beginning to the following day, but the table filled with a traditional (and scrumptious) Romanian breakfast and the graciousness of our host restored our enthusiasm for the days’ drive into Transylvania.
It’s all part of the adventure, right?