Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Bucovina Monasteries

The bus from Sighet to Gura Humorului was tiny, packed, often an inferno, and noisy.
Thankfully during the 5 hour ride our fellow passengers were courteous to us and each other and the driver stopped for a 10 minute or more smoke break every hour or so.

The area around Gura Humorului in the Bucovina Region of Romania is known for its colorfully painted monasteries. We saw two our first day, Humor and Vonoret, walking 27 kms on back roads and trails. There was a flash of life and death drama on the way as we were attacked by a pack - 7 is a pack yes? - of sheep dogs as their young shepherd/master was unable to control them. Whew.

The second day we rode the bus to Moldovița. Being Sunday the service was in progress when we arrived at 8:50 AM and was still going strong when we left at 10:20. The monastery has about 40 nuns including one who gives tours of the paintings with her laser pointer in animated Italian - sorry no photo.

One of the breaks on the bus was at the top of a pass through the Rodna Mountains. It was nice and cool for a few minutes at 1400 meters.
Rodna Mountains - Romania

A huge painted Easter egg on the town square in Gura Humorului.
Easter Egg - Gura Humorului, Romania

Walking along the Humor River to Humor Monastery.
Gura Humorului, Romania

Once in Humor we rousted this stork from it's nest.
Gura Humorului, Romania

The Humor Monastery Church has no spire and a single watch tower.
Gura Humorului, Romania

A great walk from Humor (in the distance) back to GH...

Gura Humorului, Romania

...although we were about to be attacked by dogs...
Gura Humorului, Romania

...as this photo was taken.
Gura Humorului, Romania

The dog attack behind us - no blood no problem - it was mostly downhill back to town after a brief stop at the very windy stone bench marking the top of the hill.
Gura Humorului, Romania

Gura Humorului, Romania

On the road to Voronet we passed these guys ploughing their garden.
Gura Humorului, Romania

The church at Voronet is known as the Sistine Chapel of the Orient mostly because of the Last Judgement painted on the western exterior wall.
Gura Humorului, Romania

Gura Humorului, Romania

The Moldovița Monastery.
Gura Humorului, Romania

This is part of the Siege of Constantinople painting (with the Christains winning).
Gura Humorului, Romania

The nun is beating a wooden drum to signal the start of the liturgy.
Gura Humorului, Romania

The morning sun on the walls.
Gura Humorului, Romania










Sunday, April 27, 2014

Sighet and Around

Since we left Cluj on a 7AM bus, we arrived in Sighetu Marmației at noon and had plenty of time to find a hotel and then head out to Săpânța to see the so-called Merry Cemetery. There are no buses to Săpânța so we eventually figured out out to find a private car for hire. Well, they kinda find you. If you are standing in the right spot - in this case on a corner near the crosswalk after the  roundabout - a black station wagon, usually a VW, will pull up and shout their destination. If that's the way you are headed then you're set. So after 20 minutes of standing in the wrong spot, a helpful local got us in a car to Săpânța.

Sighet, only 1 km from the border with Ukraine, marks the northern most point of this trip at almost 48 degrees north latitude. After seeing the Merry Cemetery the first afternoon, we subsequently made day trips to the surrounding valleys to see the old churches, the one at Budesti is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and to check out what's left of the old ways: farming, architecture, dress, and religion.


The tombstones at the Merry Cemetery are painted in blue and have scenes and verse recounting the decease's life and in some cases death.
Sapanta, Romania

Sapanta, Romania

Sapanta, Romania

We rode the bus to Bârsana to see the new Monastery and the Old Church. It happened to be April 23rd, St George's Day (of  dragon slaying fame) and the Monastery was busy with a seemingly continuous outdoor service.
Bârsana, Romania

Bârsana, Romania

We walked the 4kms from the Monastery to the Old Church enjoying the sites on the way: locals on bikes, wooden gates, fields, and houses.
Bârsana, Romania

Bârsana, Romania

Bârsana, Romania

Bârsana, Romania

Bârsana, Romania

Bârsana, Romania

Bârsana, Romania

The Old Church at Bârsana.
Bârsana, Romania

Headed to the Festival (we think).
Bârsana, Romania

It is not uncommon to see a horse cart in downtown Sighet.
Sighetu Marmatiei, Romania

Sighetu Marmatiei, Romania

The border with Ukraine is just 1km from Sighet. We walked to the Romanian side of the bridge for a look.
Sighetu Marmatiei, Romania

The Thursday Market at Ocna Sugartag.
Maramureș, Romania

Maramureș, Romania

Near Sarbi.
Maramureș, Romania

Maramureș, Romania

Traditional water mill to wash wool - Sarbi.
Maramureș, Romania

The Old Church at Sarbi. We were surprised to see sheep skin rugs inside.
Maramureș, Romania

Maramureș, Romania

Church foundation and wooden bell.
Maramureș, Romania

Budești Lower Church (1643) - a UNSECO Monument.
Maramureș, Romania

Maramureș, Romania

Budești Upper Church.
Maramureș, Romania

Walking to Breb.
Maramureș, Romania

Maramureș, Romania

Maramureș, Romania

Maramureș, Romania

Making Cheese.
Maramureș, Romania

Inside the church.
Maramureș, Romania