Sunday, March 4, 2012

Weekend excursion

Well, I'm back home, at least my temporary home, Hotel Occidant, in Barlad. We took a whirlwind trip with our trusty driver, Durrell. First, I have to say Durell, reminds me so much of my father. During our trip he was kind, gentle, laid back and caring. He also only speaks a few words of English. We did a lot of hand motions. Luisa does speak Romanian, so she was also helpful. Anyway, when the roads were slick, he drove carefully. He carried our bags and helped us get good prices on our purchases. He was a true gentleman.

Saturday morning we slept late and awoke to a cold, snowy day. Our breakfast at the Passiflora, was fresh cow's milk, a plate of fresh veggies, cheese and tofu, and several delicious dips. I've never eaten raw veggie for breakfast. Kay Toomey says food is food, it doesn't matter the meal. So I enjoyed the veggies with a wonderful veggie pate and a tasty reds sauce with mushrooms. After breakfast we set out for our first stop. It was a small monastery that is called The Monastery of Humor, not because it is funny but because it is named after the Humor river. The painted walls of this monastery were from the 1400s. The outside and inside were completely painted. I was told that the monks painted the walls to tell stories of the bible to the people because they could not read. The stories on the walls were full of beheadings and death. It was intriguing but a little scary. The paintings went all the way to the high ceilings. As we drove to the next monastery we saw little shrines that varied in size and detail. Durell told us that people donate money to have these built all over small towns. Also, every town/village we drove through had at least one church and several of these shrines. At the next monastery, they were ready for us. It was in an area that looked more tourist-y and there were vendors lined up outside the monastery. It was called the monastery of Voronet. It was larger than the first one we saw. What I liked best about it was it had a very old cemetery next to it. We took several pictures of this cemetery. The monastery wall paintings were very detailed and we noticed that some areas were very faded. During this stop the snow began to fall, and while it was beautiful, we could tell the temperature was dropping. As were were leaving the town we saw a horse and buggy so we asked Durrell to pull ahead of him and stop so we could get a picture. The pictures turned out great and the driver of the buggy was glad to pose for us. Durrell said the people in that area are know to be really nice. Our last monastery stop was The Sucevita, I believe it is one of the best monasteries to visit. It was very large and had a giant fortress around it. The stories on the walls of this monastery depicted angel scenes. It was very, very cool and icy so we looked very quickly, I purchased a book that would tell me more about the history and we left. I think by the third monastery we all felt like we'd seen enough of them. There were many more to see but we headed to a local family owned pottery store and purchased black pottery. It is very pretty and they make it onsite. In front of the pottery story the family also had a store with old rustic floors. Inside the grandmother was selling traditional Romanian shirts. She would pull out a shirt and tell us that her grandmother wore this shirt. One shirt she said had been worn by her great grandmother; this woman was probably in her 80's. They were very unique and I'm pretty sure that her grandmother did wear them. After a lunch at a true Romanian country restaurant across the street, get this, called the Luxor, we headed to Isai, were we spent the night. On this excursion we literally drove all over northeastern Romania. Isai, a city very close to Moldova, is the home of the first university in Romania and is the second largest city behind Bucharest. The hotel was the closest to a westernized hotel that I think we'll see on this trip. On Sunday we saw the Palace of Culture and a beautiful cathedral. It seems that there are Palaces of Culture in all the big cities but I'm not sure what is in them. You don't go in, you just take pictures of the outside. At the cathedral, there was a line to get inside. Durrell told us that there is what we'll call the saint lady of wishes. If you want something, this is apparently the saint to so see. I apologize if you are Greek Orthodox and I've offended you. There are a whole lotta churches in Romania and they kiss a lot of pictures of saints.

Our final exciting stop was a second hand store in Isai. It was very busy and had some very cute little purses. The clothing was priced at 6 lei per kilo (about $2 for 2 lbs). Robin purchased a beautiful antique bracelet for 30 lei (10 US dollars). We arrived safely back in Barlad in time for an afternoon walk, nap and dinner with our friends. Tomorrow it's back to the babies. Can't wait!!!

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