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București, A City of Joy. Postcards

My collection of random memorable moments.

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București, A City of Joy. “Palace of the People”

My photos barely capture the enormity of this palace,  the second largest administrative building in the world (behind the US Pentagon).  Intended to be the, “heart of the Romanian people,” its construction displaced 40.000 people and more than 20.000 workers spent 13 years building the 350.000m2 palace.

Just about everything in the palace seemed out of proportion, with 20 meter high ceilings and 250kg velvet curtains, 1.000 rooms and more than 3.500 tons of crystal in the chandeliers, and so on. Shall we tour?

Continue reading “București, A City of Joy. “Palace of the People””

București, A City of Joy. Partea 2.

With little more than a day to explore the city, I gave priority first to one of its major boulevards, Calea Victoriei, brimming with photo opportunities, and whatever else caught my eye on this crisp but sunny day. Museums would have to wait for another visit.

Continue reading “București, A City of Joy. Partea 2.”

București, A City of Joy. Partea 1.

Though not known for certain, Vlad the Impaler’s hometown has its origins in the Romanian word for joy, Bucur, and that is indeed what I felt within moments of my arrival. If something could be decorated or strung with lights, the joyful people of Bucharest were on it!  The city may be the, “Paris of the East,” but easily rivals New York City for its display of Christmas lights. And so began my whirlwind 48 hours in Romania’s capital.

Continue reading “București, A City of Joy. Partea 1.”

The Summer Wrapup

None of us would rate this as a “Best! Summer! Ever!,” our household having had various interruptions of one kind or another, but in the grand scheme of first world problems we have no viable complaints.

The Last Minute Hungary-Romania Spring Break, Part V: Regrets

Regrets. Last-minute, slapdash planning with little time for research meant I sulked in Cluj-Napoca over the lack of time to absorb the achingly beautiful architecture around every corner, and could only window-gaze at the closed quaint second-hand stores and chic modern boutiques. Adding insult to injury is that we also missed so many dining opportunities in Transylvania’s culinary and cultural capital.

The Last Minute Hungary-Romania Spring Break, Part IV: Wooden Churches and Gates

Our route toward Transylvania passed through several of Maramures’ old villages. Off the side roads, and not always easy to find, are gorgeous wooden churches. The Maramures region is approximately 80% woodlands, so wood is the favored means of artistic expression in these parts.

One of the largest religious sites is a monastery in the village of Barsana. A designated UNESCO site, the church and its outbuildings atop a hill does not disappoint those who find it.  Built in the 16th century, it was home to Orthodox bishops of the region. That is, until folding into the Hapsburg Empire, when the Emperor forced the church to become Catholic. It was not until 1993 that the monastery and church returned to its Orthodox faith.

The Last Minute Hungary-Romania Spring Break, Part III: The Merry Cemetery of Sapanta

In the tiny village of Sapanta, tucked up in the northeast corner of Romania, is the “Merry Cememtery.”   Begun in 1935 by Stan Patras, a local artist, the markers depict scenes from the deceased’s life, an often an ironic poem of how the person died. The colors used on the markers also have meaning: the blue, known as “Sapanta Blue” represents hope, freedom, and the sky. Green is for life; yellow, fertility; red, passion; and black, for death. The colorful cemetery is in contrast to the usual gray, solemn Eastern cemeteries and was, surprisingly, a rather interesting site to investigate.
Stan Patras died in 1977, and now his trusty apprentice continues the work. Mr. Patras’ marker is on the left; he is the person wearing the straw hat.

The Last Minute Hungary-Romania Spring Break, Part II: Rural Romania

Time to gush about how enchanting we found Romania. If only the photos could capture the gush-worthiness we experienced in person…

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