Romania on fast forward

Romania on fast forward

It is an interesting exercise to write about visiting a place which was once home. And it is even more interesting to be a visitor of all too familiar places together with the person who is now more home than the place where I grew up. Again, I wanted to show her around in places which still are part of me.

We started off in Vama Veche for a couple of sunrises and bathing fun, as it is there where I believe I grew out of my small town narrative towards a broader image of me and the world around.

Then we went off the beaten track around the countryside in Vaslui, where we visited my parents and the place I used to call home. I must say, Fritzi is quite fond of the old peasant houses with their subtle woodwork art. That actually made me rediscover such small signs of beauty.

From Vaslui, we headed up North towards Maramureș. On the way there, through the mountains of Bucovina, we just happened to meet Anton, an old friend, cycling around on another of his adventures. Last time we saw us in Hamburg, so we enjoyed the chance encounter for a beer and a catch-up on stories. In Maramureș we paid a visit at the Merry Cemetery in Săpânța – a place where both death and the ones who died are mocked in funny little poems and depictions of the dead’s habits, way of life or way of dying. Nothing is spared, from drinking problems to personal rivalries, while the crosses of the more respected members of the community bear eulogies reminding of their qualities. All in all, the place expresses an optimistic, light view of death, proposing humour as a medicine to soften the pain of the ones left behind. It was an aha! moment for Fritzi, who was mostly put off by my usual mockery of death and didn’t get what is it with me that I so often joke about such serious matters.

From Maramureș, we went down to Cheile Bicazului, admiring the Transilvanian landscape. A bit of hiking followed on the highest mountain in Moldova, which gave us the chance to have a bit of really fresh and tasty cheese from the local shepherds. On the last day of this trip we wandered around in Bucharest’s past, following the trail of the turn-of-the-past-century buildings and even older ones which survived the destruction of the communist era, like Hanul lui Manuc or the Cantacuzino Palace, now home to the ‘George Enescu’ Museum. One last coffee on Calea Victoriei and off we were to our home of choice, packed with memories and hugs from a previous one.

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