Our drive to Maramureș took several hours. One big difference from America is that Romania does not have the same kind of highway infrastructure, so you sometimes end up on some very windy, bumpy roads. I don’t think it’s too unlike where I’m from in north Georgia. We have lots of country roads. Usually, it means that you get to enjoy the trip because you go slow enough to appreciate everything you see. This is definitely the case for the drive to Maramureș. Every road has some redeeming quality – either it runs through a beautiful village or has an amazing mountain view. Sometimes we would drive for miles besides a frozen river (which is a totally new thing for me and frankly, a little scary to see people doing ~things~ on top of the river, but I digress).
Before we went to dinner, we went to visit the Mocanita. The Mocanita is a narrow gauge railway train that uses steam. I don’t really know what that means other than the Mocanita is pretty cute. We were pressed for time, so we weren’t able to fit it into our itinerary this trip, but I hope we’ll come back in the summer to ride. The entire trip takes about five hours – it leaves at 10:00am and you ride until 3pm.
We found an awesome hotel in Viseu de Sus. We had reservations at a different pensiune, but we found this this other place…and well, it was much better. Not to mention cheaper – we ate like kings (yes, I photographed all my food).
And this new hotel didn’t play Manele 😛
Hotel Gabriela (above, the dining room on the left and the front of the hotel on the right – not my pictures) was our home for two nights. We made plans to wake up early, eat breakfast, and get on the road to Barsana, but I guess we didn’t plan on it being like, -20 celsius and our car was frozen. A man from the hotel came out to help us, and together they tried every trick in the book. At one point, it was pretty hilarious – I mean, Claudiu had the hood of the car up, and all of a sudden there were these guys that just appeared. And of course, they were all car experts. I’m not laughing so much at the guys, they were pretty awesome and helped push the car – it’s really just that as soon as the car hood was up, they appeared out of nowhere. Ten minutes of standing and looking at the engine, they all had an opinion on what to do 🙂 Thank you, random dudes.
Finally, we were on our way. And of course, we were wearing as many layers of clothing as possible. My goal for that morning was to dress as closely to a human burrito as I could get.
Here is some pretty good drone footage of the Monastery (not mine):
and my pictures from the ground…
The great thing about Barsana is that it is still a working monastery. The monks that live there make everything – the hand carved details on all the buildings (every shingle is carved by hand), and they weave rugs and textiles to sell. The location of the monastery was just perfectly nestled into the side of this valley, giving kind of a magical storybook feeling.
Săpânța – Merry Cemetery
I’m glad Claudiu was with me to translate, although he said some of the inscriptions weren’t very merry. Like they said in the video, there were a lot of children’s graves. Many were killed by automobiles or bikes. The cemetery itself is very vibrant. The colors are vivid and still bright after many years. The graves are very close to one another – it was difficult to walk through the gravesites just because of their proximity. Like a lot of places in Romania, it wouldn’t be very accessible for someone with a physical disability.
This picture is from the side of the church that’s being renovated next to the Merry Cemetery. I love how the shadow was falling across the gold mosaic pieces. After visiting the cemetery, we drove back to Viseu de Sus (well, okay, Claudiu drove back and I fell asleep), and we had another great meal at Hotel Gabriela. I loved that place. It was so affordable and the service was outstanding.