What can you do in 7 days?
Romania (wiki), 5th country on the great journey to India. Ţeara Rumânească, Romans were here, in Trans-Danubian Dacia, but pulled out in 3rd century AD. Who knows with certainty what happened after, through the Dark Ages and how the latin language or the people have come to Romania. Fact is with some Italian you may get through. The land of Drakula, land of Gypsies (Romani), Romania was always a dream destination for me. We enter on 8th of August, one fine afternoon, ride the Carpathians, this is what we have come for.
The Carpathians (wiki), one of the largest areas of undisturbed forest in Europe, largest bear and wolf population in Europe: what do we want more?
We enter the Carpatii Orientali as this section is called, or Eastern Carpathians, inner or outer, who cares?, we enter where county Maramureş is, later Bistriţa-Năsăud, down to Bistrita, over some lower peaks east again, Neamţ, follow the raul (river) Bistrita for a day. Somewhere there is the magnificent, orthodox, partly off stone, partly wooden country church and cemetery of Dreptu, Poiana Teiului is the commune.
Before evening we reach the artificial Lake Bicaz/Bistrita.
Then it goes down, roll down, out of Carpathian terrain, Tecuci, with a fine orthodox church, to Galati (wiki), whose communist blocks feature as a banner of this page. We touch/cross the Danube for the 2nd time on this journey
It was not just rhetorical, ... whether Nicolae Ceauşescu (wiki) was the worst of them? Well, maybe not as bad as Stalin... But pursuing a quasi-Stalinist cultural-revolution policy that encompassed all aspects of life, leading to immense destruction of intellect, lives, old architecture, all based on repression by the Securitate apparatus, the Conducător in the end becoming insane, completely denying reality... At leazst he was shot dezadz quickly.
And some wonders how these managed to survive.
Mouth of the Danube.
Rezervatia Biosferei Deltei Dunării, a world heritage site, the largest and least damaged wetland complex in Europe, second largest delta in Europe, the mouth of the big stream, the Danube which after some 3000km and 10 countries flows into the Black sea, with its sheer enormous force molding this world wonder.
The area measures more than 5000 km2, covers 8% of Europe, has been formed over last 16000 years, now branches into 3 main arms. It is important stopover and breeding place for cormorants, swans, pelicans, flamingoes, wild ducks; many species winter here. The delta lies on migration routes for birds from Mongolia, Siberia, Antarctica and other regions.
It is the variety of Ecosystems, running waters, stagnant waters, marshlands, etc. that make out its uniqueness. The communist area regime had its big plans with it, from the 60s on large parts were drained, transformed into today’s agriculturally used lands.
Camp 11th August, Black Sea in sight, on plain harvested fields, on the other side of the track sunflowers hang in there in the hot Romanian summer sun, stand tall crisp, for the last finishing oily essence. Twilight descends onto camp. Dinner tonight, red peppers and eggplant white wine risotto, vegetables from the delta.
After moonrise an owl repeatedly makes its appearance, glides over our heads, in circles. Will we encounter wisdom on this journey?
Romanian beer, please in a PET bottle.
Plastic and I AM GETTING USED TO IT. What have we: there is Bürger 4.5% vol. in handy 0.5l bottles, there is Neumarkt 5.2% vol. in 1l bottles (Heineken Romania), already you struggle a little, but the Timisoreana, who cares how strong anyway?, in 2l bottles is too much in size even for me. All manufacturers jumped on that PET train, German Löwenbäu is offering its brew in the new handy 0.7l bottle. Mmmm.
Mamaia, Romania's most popular resort, north of Constanta we hit the Black Sea.
Constanta (wiki) has a long history, a big port, a casino on a short sea front walk, an orthodox Peter and Paul cathedral with impressing cupola paintings, long Ottoman history, hence a mosque, some museums, stunning Roman mosaics and Ovid died here. But there’s also so much communist left-over rubbish, Ceauşescu’s done away with much of the old structures.
Lunch and we go.
Following smallest roads, the old cobblestone roads, lined with trees, pass villages that neither see tourists nor traffic, driving like 40 years ago. Wineries appear once we hit the Danube again near Ostrov. Here the Danube, vast in expanse, splits into several arms, forms several fairly large islands; the smell of stones and trees is the Danube smell from home.
There is a reward for getting up early, a pink sunrise over the big stream. But the mosquitoes are up too and very active just before sunrise.
Enter Bucharest (wiki); all I really want is to see the Ceauşescu Palace (wiki), now called the Palace of the Parliament. Planned on the site of a district of the historic old town during the erratic personality cult years of the dictator, not finished until after his execution, it is the second largest building in the world (after the Pentagon), wow, enormous, also the world’s heaviest building and most expensive admin building; Gigantism always is explained by stupidity. But once the dust settles one can see the beauty, sheer size makes an impression.
Bucureşti suffered in the communist years of systematization (wiki), many districts 20 years after still lie in complete shambles. it will take a few more decades to repair it, - but despite all Bucharest has enjoy some spirited booming years recently. And I like big cities, those that are not clean and neat. I can sense this atmosphere of self actuation. Everything is allowed that is not expressly forbidden. Much happens, somewhere, inbetween the rubble; No government help, no interference is good help in a way. Cities need to take their time to recover, it would take time for me to discover them. Too much time...
It was a mistake to leave so quickly.
For stupid Brasov.
Braşov/Kronstadt. What I call spoilt.
What Ceauşescu did not accomplish in years the city fathers manage in no time at all. In Brasov (wiki) you want to puke. Some inferiority complex speaks, and repeats the most stupid words 1000 times, stuck on all city parasols, in your face stimate client, a lie, it wants to distract, from some horrible truth the visitor would find out if left with an unobstructed view, a church cellar full of dead bodies, a genocide, or whatever? We don’t know.
We don’t know why we have to look at “Brasov – Probably the best city in the world” wherever we look at.
As if plastic Heineken rattans weren’t enough? There at least you think you have a choice, if you don't like the Heinekens' you go next door to the Peronis'. But the Brasov umbrellas you cannot escape.
But we need you dear client drinker whether Russian or English. And for you to come back we invented “Brasov – Probably the best city in the world”, and stuck it everywhere so you forget looking for the cobblestones, the old houses and churches. And we want your money, you pay for church entrance, parking and peeing. Asking for parking fees without providing a guardian is thievery.
And I think it would have been better Ceauşescu had completely razed the place.
Young smart Brasovians, I have a business idea, must be a seller, T-shirts ridiculing the probably-the-best-city-in-the-world slogan, One side reads: “Brasov – Probably the best city in the world?” the other “I have seen better.” Well not so good, I am just having a rant here, I am sure you can do better, be creative, there are many others you can do.
But be careful as city fathers may not like your gag and harass you as under Ceauşescu for nonconformity or just opposition. Beacause, as we know, they have something to hide.
Brasov, face it you're not Vienna, not Paris and not Venice. You could be pretty good, if you showed a bit of restraint and some sense of aesthetic.
I puke and we drive back to the Carpathians.
14th of August.
Relief in Sibiu (wiki) also in Transylvania, it is so much better.
(wiki) similar. They all have interesting history. But they are like Graz, Austria, really provincial. So it is my problem with provinciality?... Maybe I need a change after 8 days in Romania. We leave for Belgrade. 16th of August.