Finally, the plane landed at Bucharest Otopeni Airport in Romania! I have always wanted to see Romania, partly, for the obvious Dracula content, but also for the beauty of it. Romania is a very rural country, once you get away from Bucharest. It is a mix of rolling, green hills, forests, mountains, and rivers. Throw in some gorgeous old architecture and villages where each house is a different color than its neighbors. There seemed to be so much charm to Romania, and I just had to see it for myself!
We arrived on a Friday afternoon, to spend a 4 day trip (Memorial weekend) road tripping throughout some of Romania, trying to see as much as we could of the best it had to offer. However, one of the negatives we quickly found, was the Sixt rental car agency. It took an eternity for the lady at the desk to finish the paperwork for the individual in front of me in line, never mind once it was my turn… Let’s just say every other car agency was packed full of people when we showed up, and before she could be bothered to finish my paperwork, the area had become a ghost town. So frustrating when individuals have a job that they apparently hold no qualifications or ability to do said job.
So, well over an hour later, we made our way outside to the pickup spot to get a ride to Sixt’s parking lot to get our car. Finally, we got in, adjusted everything, hooked up the GPS, and we were off on our adventure!
Of course, we got maybe 20 minutes down the road before we found ourselves sitting in traffic… Thankfully it didn’t last too long, and after maybe another 20 minutes we were actually on our way, putting distance between ourselves and the large city of Bucharest. Fortunately, we didn’t hit traffic again for the rest of our trip.
Our hotel for the first night was in Piteşti, a short distance south of where we intended to hike the following morning. Planning for unexpected delays with the airport and what not, we had only planned to cover the two hours or so of driving time to our hotel. This allowed for no rushing, and the opportunity to stop whenever and wherever to see whatever we might come across.
After driving for about an hour and a half, we spotted what looked like an abandoned prison, or something of the sort, so I turned around with an exit off the highway, and we went back for it. Upon closer inspection as we drove towards it, we saw it was not abandoned, but some of the buildings were being used for a business of some sort with vehicles parked in front. We kept driving. We passed into a little town, turned off on a road and found ourselves in front of a little church. One of my companions was in need of a smoke break, so we decided to stop and stretch our legs here. Which was more than fine with me, since I got my first chance in Romania to indulge in my love of churches…
After wandering around the church and throughout its lovely little graveyard (I absolutely loved all of the pictures on the gravestones), we got back in the car and started on our way. We didn’t get far before we found ourselves slowly trying to crawl through the sidelines of a herd of cows trekking down the road. Rural Romania at its best! In the smaller villages, it very quickly becomes apparent that most individuals and families rely heavily upon their animals, whether its chickens, goats, cows, or horses to pull their wagons and carts. Everywhere you looked, there was livestock of one type or another, a lot of them grazing right on the shoulder of the road.
Once we rejoined the highway, we passed by Piteşti, and continued heading North. We had plenty of time to kill, and I had plotted several different churches/monasteries for us to see on the GPS. Before we reached any of those, though, we passed by a gorgeous old church tucked in off the road. I happened to catch a glimpse of it and fervently insisted to my friend who was driving that he just HAD to turn around for this church. Of course, once he did and we got back to it, they were both in complete agreement with me. It was absolutely gorgeous, with a completely different look to it than the prior church. A look we would not actually see again for the rest of our trip, so I am very glad I happened to see this one!
Wandering through its graveyard, I noticed a lot of wooden crosses bearing black scarves or some time of cloth hanging from them. One of my friends thinks this has something to do with it belonging to the head of the family? I have not seen this before, and I can not find anything about this online. Does anyone know the meaning of this? I love cemeteries and their various traditons, and would love to understand the tradition behind this.