An Easter miracle has happened! Where could we start to talk about the things that we experienced this weekend? So many different things took place. We did visit so many places and met a lot of interesting people. We ate a lot of food. This weekend really was full of tradition and adventure. Even though we were only two people, we lived a weekend that could fill countless lifetimes. The initial plan was to go to Viseu-de-Sus, stay there one single night, take the famous steam train of Mocănița and return to Baia Mare. It was not meant to be like that: we would do a lot more and see a lot more places than initially intended.
A string of events; the other side of Maramureș
This Blog entry starts on Holy Saturday, the day before Easter. In the early morning, Italian Bonnie and the Dutch Clyde found themselves on an empty road in the direction of Sighetu-Marmației. We were waiting for a car to take us to the north. We did not have to wait long. After a mere 15 minutes, a car arrived and the adventure could begin. The car ride was filled with conversation about snow, geopolitics and storks. And all of this took place in the first hitchhike we took! Good luck did not end here. Once we arrived in Sighet, we did not have to wait for a new car. We left our first car and immediately, as if brought by a silent wind, a follow-up appeared. This car brought us to Rona-de-Sus, a tiny village located roughly one hour from Viseu-de-Sus. We grew a bit concerned about the rest of our journey. What if no car would pass, no car could pick us up from a village as small as Rona? We barely had the time to be concerned. Little by little, the magic of Easter exposed itself. We found a car and did not even have to wait for a long time. One hour later we arrived in Viseu. It was barely noon.
In Viseu we met Adrian, our contact in the village. This guy would provide us with a place to stay for the night of Easter. He did pick us up, brought us to his house and we had a drink together. He told us about a short path to a hilltop, providing us with a beautiful view of Viseu and the hills that surround it. Having all the time in the world, we made this relaxing walk in the heart of nature. The spring air was pure and the sun did shine brightly. The view was wonderful.
Having seen the centre of Viseu from a distance, we decided that it was time to descend from our hill and have a closer look. We left nature and followed the asphalt road to the heart of this tiny community. We wished to buy ice-cream. Suddenly, we heard a claxon. BEEP! BEEP! ‘’Hey Guys, what are you doing here?’’. We met Alina Coman, our Romanian teacher and her family. They were heading towards their family to celebrate Easter. ‘’Get in the car! Celebrate Easter with us!’’. This sentence was the start of a unique experience. We were taken to Mosei. We ate and drank traditionally in the company of Alina’s family-in-law. It was amazing to be part of a real Romanian household. We ate in a beautiful Romanian garden with a mind-blowing view on the Rodna Mountains.
The family invited us to join them to visit Mosei and its famous monastery. This monastery would also play an important role during the next day. We also visited the monument for Romanian victims of a massacre that took place in Moisei during the Second World War. All in all did we have a very interesting afternoon. We felt like we were part of a new family; the Coman family.
Although we did not spend our evening with the Coman family, we promised to stay in touch with them. The family had decided to join us for the next day and bought tickets for a ride in the train of Mocănița. Rejoiced with this knowledge, we returned to Viseu. It was at this point around 7pm. In Viseu we reunited with Adrian, as we drank a quick coffee him. It was with him that we would spend the evening and attend the Easter celebrations. We had the great opportunity to meet another traditional Romanian family; Adrian’s family… it is here, that the food chapter repeats itself. We ate tons of eggs and ate wonderful chocolate cake. We ate and waited till midnight, in the process we talked about life on the Romanian countryside. In the late evening we went to the village’s centre to attend an Orthodox Easter service. Armed with candles we made three rounds around the church, we listened breathlessly to the preaching, even though we could not quite understand the exact meaning its words. We watched the spectacular play of light and listened to wonderful singing. We also took holy wine, mixed with bread, with us, as the tradition requires.
Wide and awake; the most miraculous of Sundays
We awoke right in time on the holiest of mornings. It was Easter, it was time to travel by train. We had arranged with the Coman family to be picked-up by them and move together to Mocănița and its steam train. What is to be said about the famous steam train of Mocănița? The train moved slowly, making our journey last an indecent six hours. We followed a trail and were surrounded by the beautiful landscape of Maramureș and its wonderful traditional houses. The sound of the railway made the experience all the more unique. Although journey’s length left us tired, the experience of sitting in an old train was worth it. We had made a jump into a different era. In this era, modern transportation had no place… and neither did a proper telephone connection.
We ended this day of Easter in Borșa, at the outer end of Maramureș. We continued to travel with the Coman family and found ourselves on a hilltop, next to a snowy Prislop monastery. From this miraculous position we had a perfect view over the eastern Carpathian mountains. We could gaze far into Moldova.
At this point in time we had decided to prolong our journey through Maramureș with one extra night. And use the second day of Easter to its fullest extent. Bonnie and Clyde split for the night. We had received the choice to spend our next night either in the monastery of Moisei, or otherwise in the residence of our Romanian teacher’s family-in-law. Jonathan decided upon the first, Cecilia upon the second. For the first time in many weeks did the two spend a night in separation.
The day that started in the snow and ended with barbeque in the sun.
Our journey was at this point far from over. Monday gave our adventure a new impulse. Together with the Coman family, we discovered the beauty of the Cascada Cailor. A chairlift brought us to the new heights, and a short walk through the snow brought us nearby the highest waterfall of Romania. The sun was bright, the sky was of an intense blue and the view was beautiful; everything was perfect.
Before our return to Baia Mare, we visited the residence of Alina’s parents-in-law one more time. This time we were invited to a barbeque. Once again, we ate plentifully, we drank plentifully and made sure that our stomachs were full enough to carry us home while asleep, as we were driven towards our region’s capital. Was it over? No, not yet. The last, final celebration of this long weekend was yet to take place. We joined the Coman’s at a barbeque, one organised by Alina’s sister. Once again we were in the middle of a Romanian family and we could eat and drink of the rich Romanian gastronomical culture. We also got the opportunity to have a look in a real artist’s workshop. We met with Székely Szilárd, one of the key figures of the artistic scene of Baia Mare. This was really an experience we would not have wished to miss. This short visit made our weekend complete.
How can we end this narrative, this wonderful weekend full of adventures and acts of miracle? Only one word escapes us: thankfulness. We are thankful towards the many people that made this weekend so special. We are thankful to all the people that gave us a sense of being at home. We are grateful that so many people hosted us! Were the events of this weekend guided by the hands of fate or was it all a string of coincidences? We cannot give an answer, but we do know that this weekend was proof of the good in people and a confirmation of Romanian hospitability. This weekend did overwhelm our expectations without doubt.
Want to read even more? In a few days, personal stories of Jonathan and Alina will be shared on SaCalatorim.ro (in English and Romanian)