Week 126 August 27, 2016

“How could it possibly be the end of August?” I ask. Loren has remarked several times, “We only have so much time in life and we don’t know how much time we are going to have.” That is true both of life and on our journey. In the meantime we are having the times of our lives and are so very grateful to be realizing our dreams of travel now. We will just continue to take it one-day-to-three-months at a time.
This week began with us attending Sunday service at the Kolozsvar 1 congregation in Transylvania, also in Cluj, Romania. This needs a little explanation, and this is what we were told: Kolozsvar, is the name of the city in Hungarian, which is the language of Transylvania. After World War I the region of Transylvania was taken from Hungary and given to Romania. For a brief time during World War II Transylvania was returned to Hungary, then at the close of World War II it was again turned over to Romania. To the Romanians, Kolozsvar is named Cluj, and the Romanians do not understand why the Transylvanians do not speak the Romanian language. The Transylvanians prefer to retain their Hungarian language and heritage, though are content to be in Romania.
Kolozsvar 1 is one of three Unitarian congregations in the city of Kolozsvar. This one is near our AirBnB, in the same block on the same street as the Unitarian Headquarters building, and, the Unitarian schools – both the seminary and the primary-through-high-school, school. We felt fortunate that the current intern at Kolozsvar 1 was able to sit with us during the service and to translate the concepts of the sermon, as had been done for us in Arkos and in Medias by each minister’s wife. As you might notice from the sign on the door which is as historic as the whole area I might add, how different the Hungarian language is. I can make out words, what I believe might say “Worship 11am” and possibly “Preaching Today:” and the minister’s name, but with little to no certainty.  
Sunday was also the finale of the Hungarian Cultural Days in Kolozsvar. We attended part of a marathon org – organ, concert, then with our AirBnB host we saw an operatte – a performance of popular songs which included in Hungarian what we could recognize as If I Were A Rich Man. She also helped us purchase a local favorite langos – said longoosh, which is a pastry filled with cheese and sauce. Loren and I then saw a brass performance – the musicians sat high over us on the balcony of the large church tower.
We met up with our host again for the evening concert which ended the festivities. In all, Hungarian Days are a delightful, family friendly community gathering. Our friend, the Unitarian minister had warned us that the concert would be “many people – like 30.000, celebrating together.” We were happy to be two among them!

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The next day we met our friend for a tour of the Unitarian school where she had attended herself and where she now teaches Religion and Social Studies. The building was built in 1900. Fortunately the two early museums inside have been preserved through all the turmoil during that century. We enjoyed a meaningful visit over lunch with her afterwards. It is sad that Transylvania is so far from California as we would be happy to spend more time with her and the other fabulous Hungarian Unitarians who we met and visited with too briefly while we were here.
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It was fortunate thst the weather waited a day for the Hungarian Days events to finish before it let loose with a storm. Our afternoon hike planned turned into a visit to one of the malls in Kolozsvar. I needed to replace the camera I have become so fond of but with the sands from Namibia still causing it to act up more – or rather neglect to act properly at all, it was time to bid it farewell. I want to mention how often we have been asked on visiting in parts of Europe and Africa, “Where you come from?” Loren likes to respond with playing a guessing game. He encourages the person to enumerate with him where the English speaking areas of the world are: Australia, Canada, England, Holland also sometimes comes up in the list, New Zealand, Scotland, South Africa, The United States of America, and, then have them pick. The United States is usually not their first guess…
It took us all day to travel from Kolozsvar/Cluj, Romania to Split, Croatia, due to limited airline scheduling. In the waiting room for the first of our two flights, I heard chatter, then smiled at being part of the world community when I heard “email” and “internet” interspersed in otherwise unrecognizable words. It reminds me of years ago when on a business trip to Canada and, sitting in a restaurant by myself I overheard “income tax” within a French conversation… Coincidentally we actually spent most of our travel day to Croatia in France – at the borders of Germany and Switzerland, but, in the technically non-Schengen Basel/Freiburg International airport in Mulhouse, France. We were glad to successfully pass through immigration with our knowledge of the Schengen visa.
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Our day ended with a night flight into Split, Croatia. So Loren jokes, “We split for Split!”
In Split, our AirBnb is situated next to the train and bus stations, which are next to the harbor. There are a vast number of sailing vessels, cruise ships, and tour boats lining the docks. It continues to be August – when most of the people of Europe are still on holiday, and Split is definitely a popular destination. I totally understand why! We have spent time exploring the city centre which spills out and around the preserved and restored ruins of the Diocletian Palace, built during the Roman Empire.
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We have also hiked around the end of the peninsula and over Mount Marjan to put our feet in the beautiful Mediterranean Sea. Well ok, so I did that, while Loren swam in it. All along we had the pungent smell of pine, the relentless sound of cicada, the sun shining in the blue sky over breathtaking scenery… in other words, all pleasant experiences. 
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My cousin, who’s daughter-in-law hails from Croatia, had warned us about the food and needing to work off the additional extra weight we will gain… Cherry grappa, yum! Fresh fruits, soup and veggies with garlic and oil that our AirBnB host has provided for us, yum! Yum! So, we also did a bit of hiking around the spectacular vistas of Krka – said Kirka, National Park. It is so impressive that we plan to return before we leave Croatia.
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Tomorrow we will take another hike around the peninsula at least – our extra calories need to be worked off!
PLEASE NOTE: While this week we have sufficient internet access, we may not have service in the countries we are visiting in the coming weeks. Please visit again, I will add my weekly post when it is possible.

Week 125 August 20, 2016

Buna Ziua! Said Boo-nah Zee-wah, this is our last full week to be able to say Good Day in Romanian. Well, just for now I hope… Loren and I started this week by attending Sunday service at the Segesvar Unitarian Church, in the Romanian named city of Sighisoara. Segesvar is Hungarian – we are getting used to the dual names of places here. Though we were unable to understand the Hungarian sermon, we could follow the hymns a bit and it was nice to be in community in their cheerful sanctuary. 
Toward the end of the service the minister came down from the elevated pulpit, asked something in Hungarian, a congregant responded affirmatively, then came forward. This young man then translated in English that the minister had received a phone call at 9am from a couple from California and if they would like to come to the front to say a few words about themselves… which we did and the young man translated for us. As we left the sanctuary the Reverend asked us in English to come to his home afterwards. Loren and I then had a delightful visit with he and his wife, who fed us a delicious meal, and, gifted us with homemade brandy and jam, and, homegrown honey!
While his wife prepared lunch, the minister drove us to see his other church – many Unitarian ministers here serve multiple congregations. What was amazing is that we had noticed a Unitarian church when we drove around Lake Sonata last week, and, we made a photo of the prominent Unitarian motto: Egy Az Isten – said something like Edge Oz Eesh-ten, for God is One, in Hungarian. This is what distinguishes our denomination, Unitarian in questioning the Trinity over the Unity of God. It turns out that this minister had previously been the minister there for over 11 years.
He also has the distinction of being formally recognized for the erecting of three Unitarian church buildings, including this one we visited together, which is also a partner church to Princeton, New Jersey.
That evening we were invited to return to their home to meet their son, who is a Unitarian ministerial student in Kolozsvar in Hungarian or Cluj in Romanian, and his girlfriend. Together with the Rev. his son, Loren and I went to the bee farm where Loren and his son helped him feed the newer colonies. I drove and took photos. I was not allowed to share in the subsequent toast of homemade brandy with another minister who lives at the property and other ministerial friends, because, there is zero tolerance of drinking and driving here. Good idea! Remember the “Romaniac” drivers I wrote about last week that Loren had identified? And that behavior is sans alcohol use…
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The gift bottle of the Rev.’s brandy was actually a blessing as Loren came down with the flu this week. It was bad enough that we had to cancel our plans to meet his son for a hike. The next day we did meet up with him – he was housesitting for his parents this week while they went to be with family in another village. We went for a walk together to the Citadel of Segesvar. But just that short hike was enough energy spent for Loren for the day. We were able to see the monument to Petöfi Sàndor, a national poet and hero who wrote the anthem for and is believed to have died in the Hungarian Revolution.
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He is known for being a writer on love and freedom. I especially like this poem of his:
I’ll Be a Tree
by Sandor Petofi

I’ll be a tree, if you are its flower,
Or a flower, if you are the dew-
I’ll be the dew, if you are the sunbeam,
Only to be united with you.
My lovely girl, if you are the Heaven,
I shall be a star above on high;
My darling, if you are hell-fire,
To unite us, damned I shall die.
The next day Loren was feeling more up for a hike to go up the hill with our new friend to see the beautiful views.
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The next day Loren was nearly back to normal, so with our friend we had another hike to see more views. We enjoyed a snack at the hillside Vila Franka restaurant, walked back down, then bade our so-hope-to-see-you-again farewells. It was nice to spend this special time with him in Segesvar, hear of his studies in the travel industry, his travels, and now of some of his studies, experiences and travels as a seminarian. All best to you in your last year of school!
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A friend from California recently wrote: “Of course as you know from your travels, its the people you meet along the way that are the real change agents in your life.” We find this is absolutely true, week, after week, after week, after week… and the best ones are the ones who become lifelong friends.
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On the subject of weeks, this one is the nice round number of 125 since Loren and I packed up and left home. Wow! And as we packed up to leave Segesvar, I was so aware of all the zippers and snaps that Loren and I cinch up each time we leave one place for another. Fortunately all the fasteners keep cinching for us!
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We rode by bus back to Cluj where we returned to the same AirBnB. This week is a big celebration called Hungarian Days here, and, with her, we saw a light show projected on the main church. When Transylvania was ruled by the Unitarian King John Sigismund in the 1500’s, this church was Unitarian. Now it is Orthodox. We have learned that each denomination here has its own different greeting. I will finish with sending out the beautiful Unitarian greeting in Hungarian: Isten áldja! similarly said something like Eesh-ten Auldio, for God bless you! On Tuesday we will head off for Croatia…
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PLEASE NOTE: While this week we have good internet coverage, we may not have service in the countries we are visiting in the coming months. Please visit here, I will add my weekly post as I can.

Week 124 August 13, 2016

Loren and I are moved when we hear from family and friends that our journey is inspiring to you. Thank you for keeping in touch with us! This week we had an email from another couple – offhand we can recall previously hearing from three other couples or families who have taken, who are on, or who will soon begin their own extended travels as a result of learning about our experience. Yay! May you too have the fortune to realize your dreams.
We had a nice stay in Sibiu, enjoying a dinner out with our AirBnB hosts at their favorite restaurant, then we had a couple of walks through the City Centre in what was once a double walled citadel. The apartment where we are staying was a few stories up, and with taking the stairs we had a little extra exercise this week. 
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Then we enjoyed staying in a “traditional Romanian house” AirBnB in the country near Sibiu, a charming large home respite next to a creek. The host is also the owner of six delightful stray female dogs. While on a hike with her and them in the hills she attracted yet a seventh to her pack – this one a male.
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Our host accompanied us the hour and a half to make sure that we would find our way to Medias – said Meh-dee-osh, for a Unitarian Sunday service that was translated for us by the Reverend’s kind wife who sat with us. One thing our AirBnB host said afterwards, which resonated for me is: “God’s plan is bigger than our own.” Da da da – Yes, yes, yes, in Romanian, that is so true.
On the way back to her home we enjoyed a picnic at a local preserved fortress together, where we were able to climb the precarious steps all the way up into the bell tower where the view was outstanding. We also visited a Festival – pronounced fes-ti-VAHL, for traditional music and more traditional food.
We covered a lot of kilometers in our rental car this week. 
     “Claire, you have become good at navigating roundabouts,”
an impressed Loren said as we drove from Sibiu to see the fortress in Alba Iulia – said you-lee-ah, home of the biggest citadel in Romania. 
     “Claire your rediscovered New Yorker driving skills have allowed you to drive more
       like a Romanian, I mean, like a Romaniac,”
Loren said further, using his invented word for the daredevil drivers we have seen, as we neared Cluj-Napoca airport to return our rental car in heavy traffic. Once a New Yorker, always one, I guess. We have been asked on several occasions what we think of Romanian drivers…
At Alba Iulia I was a little disappointed because the palace was home to the only Unitarian King in history – King John Sigismund during the 16th century, but, we found absolutely no reference to his reign. Regardless, it was impressive, with a modern cathedral built in honor of the coronation of Ferdinand and Maria.
In Kolozsvar – Hungarian for Cluj, we had the privilege of having our former Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Sunnyvale California Partner Church minister from Kolozsvar and her daughter join us for dinner. We invited our AirBnB host, and her neighbor – a long term friend of hers who is also a retired Unitarian minister. What a small world! It was wonderful to visit with our friend after all these years. Then Loren and I enjoyed a walking tour of some major sights of the city with our AirBnB host.
The next evening we had the pleasure of having dinner again with the retired Rev and his wife. He gifted us with a book in English – translated from the original Hungarian, with reflections of Transylvanian Unitarians about our faith. It is a treasure! One chapter is his own translation of the Unitarian Catechism that youth in Transylvania must prove they have learned at their confirmation. Another chapter is by a Transylvanian minister, who years ago had studied in Berkeley and who I remember preaching to our Sunnyvale congregation. His chapter is a delightful read of his experiences and reflection on the U.S. UU’s, which triggered more of my own memories.
Loren and I also enjoyed a day hike on a path through enchanting woods with some local Hungarian-speaking Transylvanians who hike weekly and who our AirBnB host helped us find. A couple of them spoke a little English, and one spoke some Italian, so, in addition to being good exercise it was socially enjoyable too — including the time when it poured down rain for which we sought shelter. It rained some all the way back too. One of the women was also a Unitarian, and another was scouting out wild mushrooms in the forest as we hiked.
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That evening we went to a local Org – Organ Concert in the Reformed Church. As much as I love music, I recently have come to the conclusion that there is sometimes a fine line between music and noise. I realize though that this applies to all the arts. I therefore respectfully request to amend the age old idiom about Beauty’s Beholder with this: Delight may or may not be found in all of one’s senses: sight-sound-taste-smell-touch and any others you care to include, not limited to just one’s eye.
On our last full day in Kolozsvar for now, our former Partner Church Rev. gave us a tour of the Transylvanian Unitarian Headquarters, where she now works as Secretary to the Bishop, and for their seminary. It was impressive to stand in the hall where leaders of the six districts of Transylvania and one district of Hungary meet – the connection between Transylvanian and Hungarian Unitarians just resumed in 2012 — after a break of nearly a hundred years due to European political turmoil. The beautifully wooded walls are fringed with images of former Bishops and lay leaders, hung high. The seminary includes a chapel where daily student worship services are offered.
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The next day we took a train to Sighisoara in Romanian – Segesvar in Hungarian, which took nearly six hours. The first 45 minutes included waiting for the train to arrive, then to depart, the Cluj station. No wonder there are warnings that trains may not be on time. But, that also gave us more time to have fun with the five year old Romanian boy and his grandparents who shared our compartment. With hand gestures and the ways that the Romanian language is like Italian, we learned it was his first ever train ride! In all those hours he tried many times and ways to lie down for a nap, but he was too excited to have his riposo.
In Segesvar, we rented a car to be able to drive to a Unitarian Gathering. I wish we knew some Hungarian because even with the invitation in hand, I am at a loss to explain more than that we visited park in a wide open space with a stage near the congregation of Szekelyudvarhely in the village of Odorheiu Secuiesc, for the Szejkefurdoi Unitarius Talalkozo. I do know it was anticipated that 2000 people would attend. The previous few days of cloudy, rainy weather cleared for a mostly sunny day for the event.
Some people were there in traditional costume, and some of them participated in the ceremonial worship or performed dances afterwards. We sang Hungarian hymns and were offered the Lord’s Supper (communion). When I said, Ishten Aldjon – God Bless You, to the Priest who gave me Communion, he replied in English, “God Bless You,” which felt like a dear connection.
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We all then followed the procession of ministers through a long corridor of wooden portals in the nearby field to honor and place commemorative wreaths on the grave of Orban Balazs. We were able to briefly visit with a few of our friends from the Arkos camp who we had met last week. On our return trip to Kolozsvar, we drove through other areas of the countryside. In all, another lovely day.
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I am aware that emergency vehicle sirens in Romania sometimes sound like the ones in the USA – they more often whirr in crescendo and decrescendo, instead of blaring the two alternating tones like in most of the rest of Europe. I am also aware that as we have traveled through parts of Europe and Africa that I have smelled more cigarette smoke in public places, smelled more unpleasant scents in the streets, more harsh chemicals, exhaust, burning rubber and smoke from intentional fires than I am used to in California. How I wish people were not exposed to such toxins… more reason to resume my Bikram yoga practice to eliminate those toxins from my body. Until then I will follow the advice I found from a graffiti artist in English in Kolozsvar this week:
PLEASE NOTE: While this week we have an internet connection, we may not have viable service on a weekly basis. Please visit this site again, I will upload my posts when and as often as I can.

Week 123 August 6, 2016

Loren and I began this week still in Sighisoara, or Segesvar in Hungarian, Romania. We took a walk around the fortified town, visiting the Muzeul de Istorie – Historic Museum, at the medieval clock tower. Then we walked to the top of the hill where we had the delight of hearing a soloist and organist rehearsing some pieces in the medieval church, and, back down to our BnB through the old narrow streets.
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From there we drove on to Brasov – said Brahsh-hov, Transylvania, to the home of our next AirBnB hosts. They are hoping to make a go of their startup working together for environmental concerns. If you are interested you can visit their appealing website:
We went for a wonderful hike with them and their hunting dog the next morning, in the nearby Piatra Craiului mountains.
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Loren and I then drove the hour and a half to visit the Hungarian speaking region in Transylvania. We were invited by the minister of the Unitarian church in Szentivanlaborfalva, which was once the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Sunnyvale, California – our home congregation’s partner church, to visit overnight at a summer camp in Arkos – said Arc-ohsh. The children came from three neighboring communities – Arkos or Arcus in Romanian, Szentivanlaborfalva or Santionlunca in Romanian, near Targu Mures on the map, and, from Sepsiszentgyorgy or Sfanta Gheorghe in Romanian, and Saint George in English. Here 130 children conceived 13 rules – for example, “Be nice to each other,” “Tell an adult if you see a child crying,” among others to follow for the week. They danced, sang, made friends, and, decorated a joyful Welcome banner!
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After the children went to bed, the adults enjoyed some social time. 
Loren and I stayed overnight at the home of a lovely local family, who, along with other involved families helped us feel like we were already part of the community. We happily participated in singing some English verses that they knew among the many hymns and songs they sang in Hungarian. Camp ended with the Sunday Service.
After another delicious meal together, we followed the minister of our former partner church and his wife, also a minister, to Szentivanlaborfalva to see their church there. They are redecorating the inside which will obviously be gorgeous when they are done. They helped us take the suggestion of a friend from UUFS who has visited Transylvania to stop along the side of the road for some sweet “K-word” bread. The name she could not recall is Kurtoskalacs. We also bought a loaf of yummy potato bread, both homemade and warm from being fresh baked. We did not say goodbye as we left as Loren and I very much look forward to seeing them and their daughters along with others of our new Hungarian speaking Transylvanian friends at a gathering later this month…


The next evening, back in Brasov, Loren and I took the local-guided walking tour around town, which started with visiting the “Black Church,” after it was partially destroyed by fire.
Inspired by a particular sight, I wrote another poem:

     Thoughts in Brasov, A Three Verse Haiku
by Claire Adalyn Wright

     A shop named Ravel
brought to mind travel! And, un-
ravel? Or, ravel?

What is different
about those two words? I can

     not tell them apart…

     Never mind. There will
     be little unraveling
in our traveling.

So, since we are visiting in Transylvania, I must mention Dracula. His character makes this area a tourist destination, and the locals remind us with frequent advertising. We drove by Bran Castle, where Vlad “The Impaler,” who is thought to have inspired author Bram Stoker’s novel, was once imprisoned. We did not go inside. I also must mention that I have not noticed a single local person who sounds like a Transylvanian vampire. Years ago I did notice some similarity from my first times of hearing a few different Unitarian seminarians who visited California from Transylvania over the years who preached at our congregation while they were studying at Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley. Maybe it is because I have been hearing other European accents for the past year? Or is it that I am used to this particular accent now from my years at UUFS?
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We also drove by Rasnov Castle, then stopped at Peles Castle to walk through the garden and visit the monastery. We arrived that evening in Sinaia – said Seh-nigh-a, in time for an Enesco free classical concert by a Portuguese Youth Orchestra. It featured Beethoven’s 5th among other pieces. And it was obvious that it is August – holiday time in Europe! The hall was so crowded that we only found one proper seat… which I offered to Loren and I sat on a short flight of stairs in an aisle. The advantage was that when a seat next to Loren was available after others left early, I had the privilege to view the orchestra from the opposite side of the hall as well.
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The next day we stopped to see George Enescu’s Villa, named “Luminis.” After touring the home we purchased a CD of his music which entertained us as we then drove through the Bucegi mountains of the Carpathian range. We stopped to take a couple of short hikes in the countryside. After dinner we had a nice walk around the hilly neighborhoods of Sinaia and learned that Queen Anne of Romania had died and her funeral procession was being brought to Peles Castle.
All our mountain driving and hiking had prepared us for the long and winding drive through the Transylvanian Alps to Sibiu – said Sib-e-u, in south Romania. To get there we drove on the Transfagarasanan, a military road created at the order of Romanian Communist Leader Ceausescu many years ago. Along the way we stopped to climbthe 1,480 steps to Poienari Fortress which literally depicts a couple of victims of Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia in the fifteenth century. Hence his nicknames, Vlad The Impaler, then Drakula.
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On a happier note, I also have to mention our new friends and their sons, from Poland. They shared our first AirBnB home in Romania in Danesti in the Maramures region. We enjoyed several conversations in the common kitchen, family area and yard. When we were leaving, they said they were staying a few more days, and that they would see us again. As Loren and I drove the Transfagarasan, we stopped for lunch to sit near a waterfall beside our car. As we sat, a car going the other direction pulled over and stopped. Who was in it? Our Polish friends and their boys! They said once again that we would see them later. I was so touched at seeing them again and commented several times on what a fun coincidence it had been to be in the same place at that point in time.
Today Loren and I spent several hours at Astra, an open air museum in Sibiu displaying Romanian life prior to modern conveniences. As we were leaving, it was uncanny to see our friends and their sons walking toward us! We do hope to see them again, as we are all visiting in Romania for our first times for a while longer…
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PLEASE NOTE: While this week we have decent internet coverage, we may not have viable service in the countries we are visiting over the next three months. Please check back here, I will share my weekly post when and as often as I can.

Week 122 July 30, 2016

We started this week with a 4:30am taxi ride to the Marrakech airport, with a transfer through Bergamo, Italy, to Cluj, Romania. Our first impressions were of all the bright red roofed homes and buildings we saw as our airplane descended, and, how modern looking everything seemed. 
We picked up our rental car, arriving at our AirBnB in Danesti, Maramures in northern Romania at 21:30pm, which was 19:30pm Moroccan time, or 9:30pm and 5:30pm respectively. In all, we lost two hours of time.One thing we are finding common around Europe and parts of the Eastern Hemisphere where we have visited thus far, is the prevalent use of the 24 hour clock, in addition to the metric system of kilometers, meters, centimeters, hectares and kilograms. When I worked in the computer industry I became familiar with what was referred to as military time, which ensures there is no question that the hours after 12:00 are in the afternoon and evening, but, you have to remember for example that 15:00 is 3pm, 17:00 is 5pm, 19:00 is 7pm, etc. and not confuse them with 5pm, 7pm or 9pm. 
We slept well and long that first night – we never even heard the 6am church bells ring. On our first full day we met up with our AirBnB host in downtown Baia Mare for lunch, then obtained lei – also known as RUN for Romanian currency, from an ATM. Everywhere we have traveled outside of the US and the European Union, they have their own flavor of money besides Dollars and Euros. We took a gorgeous two hour drive to see Cimitirul Vesel, which means Merry or Cheerful Cemetary as advertised by either name in different places, or the Happy Cemetary as referred to by one local, in Sapanta. The only things that were not cheerful were the dark clouds and rain while we were there, and, the girl at the booth who took our five lei each admission. The headstones are all gaily decorated with photographs, poetry, or images to identify the person and how they died.
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We drove a different route making a full circle on the two hours ride back. Along the drive we waved hello to the country, Ukraine, which is just across the river. We arrived back in Danesti in time to meet our AirBnB host, his wife and their two sons for a delicious Romanian dinner at a local restaurant. They enjoy hosting guests to give their children a sense of having extended family. It was a lovely evening!
We no longer find people hauling goods on donkeys, see mosques, or hear calls to prayer from the minarets, as in Morocco. Here, merchants haul their wares in horse drawn carts, while church bells ring out at 6am and the noon hour. Romanian farmers arrange their crops of hay to dry on the expanse of fields, using rakes made from honed tree branches. What is similar are the fields of sunflowers, the many nests of storks, the proudly displayed national flags. Here the flag is triple swathed blue, yellow and red, not what we have seen the past three weeks of red with a green star. We no longer see the many olive trees as in Morocco or Italy, nor do we see the duos or trios of militia patrols as we had became used to noticing everywhere in Morocco and Europe.
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What we often smell here is smoke coming from plumes from the locals’ intentional burnings. Lots of rolling green hills are dotted everywhere with tall tan, red or brown haystacks, and many church steeples. We see dogs dart unfettered along narrow roads, amidst farmers driving slow moving vehicles, and speeding trucks and cars that routinely dare to pass lines of slower movers on mountain roads that are full of curves. Women wear flouncy knee length black skirts with white or white polka dot bandanas on their heads. This is some of what we have seen of the Romanian countryside thus far.
We enjoyed a nice hike in an oak forest that Loren noticed along the road, and saw  so many wildflowers along our drives,
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and, chased down a few of the many UNESCO protected oak churches in Maramures, decorated with well preserved paintings and intricately woven cloths.
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At one of the churches, we came across a bride and groom, returning a week after their wedding to take photographs. Another church honors the two Archangels, Michael and Gabriel.
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We also found somewhat familiar local artwork on an abandoned building near the market where we shopped…
Now, we are in Sighisoara, a lovely town of 30,000 people with a well preserved citadel. I must say that this word reminds me of when my brother played Dungeons and Dragons in years long past! The town boasts a beautiful clock tower that literally towers over the surrounding Medieval era structures that are home to a modern people.
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We have actually learned a little Romanian, which has been a bit similar to Italian in some ways. For example Buna seara, said boonah see-ra, means good evening; or sunt incantat de cunostinta, said soont oon-coon-tat day cos-no-stenza, means pleased to meet you; which are somewhat similar to the Italian greetings. However others are more unique to Romanian, like magazin mixt means a convenience store; multumesc, said moolt-zu-mesc, for thank you; and, drum bun, said droom boon, means something like good road, but maybe good travels on the road gives a more accurate meaning.
We have seen a few different street sign references to 1st December, 1918, and have learned that this was when Romania inherited Transylvania, Bessarabia and Bukovina as part of the treaty settlement after The Great War, what is now called World War I. The region of Transylvania, in the heart of Romania, is where the protestant Unitarian religion was born. Loren and I are excited that we will be meeting some Unitarians this weekend. Hopefully some of the people we will meet will be from our former partner church in that part of the Hungarian speaking area of Romania – in Szentivanlaborfalva which is Hungarian for Saint Ivan … … – I am uncertain what the lahbor falva words mean, but, in Romanian the village is called Santionlunca.
PLEASE NOTE: While today we have an exceptional internet connection, we may not have service at times over the next three months. Please check back, I will make my weekly post when possible!

REPOSTING in Progress: Weeks 2 to 109

This place holder is for the entries from our original blog to be added, eventually. Please check back – this re-creation is a labor of Love and will take a bit of  t-i-m-e- which, while still traveling, we do not always have a lot available to devote to this.