In the second week of my Romanian travels, we left the farm, hit the road and drove up to the mountains and around to the major cities of central Romania. Our path included Cluj-Napoca, Sighişoara, Braşov, Buşteni, Sinaia ans Sibiu. I took a lot more pictures on this part of the trip, mostly because I enjoy pictures of architecture. There were many stiles influenced by the old german presence, the communist government and the gypsies.
In much of western Romania, but also in other parts, gypsy houses, churches and buildings are decorated with tin roofs. You can see a extreme example of this on the the mansions in the first picture below. Most of the other buildings that face the street in villages, while colorful, were less ostentatious. The second image and the last image in the top row were typical of what I saw of the villages built by german settlers. These villages were built 500 years ago when the Austro-Hungarian empires included parts of what is now western Romania. The germans lived here until 1983 when Ceauşescu expelled them back to Germany. The villages were then repopulated by rural Romanians and Gypsies.
Sighişoara, third picture on the top row, is an old castle town that flows out of the castle walls and down to the river. We stayed there the second night of the trip is a small apartment rented by a very friendly couple, who cooked us breakfast and did our laundry before we set out the next day.
We set out for the mountains passing through Braşov, which, like Cluj, is full of block apartments (second picture in the bottom row). These felt typically communist to me and it seemed out of place that while smaller houses were replaced with undecorated, run-down blocks, the churches remained intact and updated. The blocks look marxist-communist but the churches bely that there was full cultural control.
Our final day we lunched in Sibiu, the most german of german cities. Sibiu was awarded “cultural center of Europe” in 2007 and given the work that was done in the last ten years to restore it, you can see why. In the third picture on the bottom row, you can glimpse the buildings surrounding the piaţa — they reminded me of Prague more than anything else.
Along the way, we saw many Romanians participating in a favorite national weekend pastime: Picnicking. As you can see in the final photo, people drive their car out to the country and set up a picnic for the day. While this reminded me of beaches here in the States, it was odd to see people parked in country locales where there may have been a running stream but they were nowhere near it. It makes me question why I feel that a picnic needs to be near running water or an overlook of some kind.