Shockingly little has happened on this blog in the last few months. :-(
First, this was due to university, where I am working on a paper about the history of labor in the Middle Ages and in Early Modernity. As any subject that you delve into deeply, this has turned out to be much more complicated (and even more interesting) than anticipated.
And, for the last two weeks, I was finally traveling again. For my birthday, I went to Romania and to Ukraine, whence I shall have some (hopefully) interesting stories for you. While I am working on these, here are a few photos to wet your appetite.
First, I went to Alba Iulia. As Romania’s secret capital, this will feature in an upcoming episode of my history series “One hundred years ago …”, because in October 1922, this is where King Ferdinand and Queen Marie were crowned. Almost one hundred years was also the time it took me to circumvent the citadel, the second-largest man-made defense structure in the world, just after the Great Wall of China.
There will also be a story about being locked in at the Botanical Garden and about a very legalistic playground.
Next, I went to Baia Mare, the lovely capital of Maramureș.
Travel between the cities was a delight not only for the view of mountains, rivers and the typical wooden houses, but also because I got to hang out in architectural gems like the Baia Mare bus station.
Or the train station in Sighet.
Sighet is quite a lively town for its size, with museums like the one for the victims of Romanian communism or Elie Wiesel’s childhood house, attracting visitors from around the world.
But I mainly used Sighet to walk across this wooden bridge into Ukraine.
For a country bracing full-out war, the border process was astonishingly easy and straightforward (and much friendlier than in other countries in peacetime). Even the trains are still running, although I had to hitchhike because I wanted to go to find the geographical center of Europe. Which I did.
The last stop on my trip, back in Romania, was Satu Mare. A very friendly town, with people everywhere taking time to talk. At the art museum, the director herself gave me a guided tour of the exhibition about Aurel Popp. In French. There seemed to be surprisingly little tourism, even though a brochure which I picked up from the tourist information boasted of direct flights between Satu Mare and New York. (The information was outdated, or had never been true.)
Satu Mare should be much better known, though, because it must be the world’s secret capital of Brutalism.
And as always, there will be plenty of cemeteries.
And cats. Both of these were photographed in Solotwyno, Ukraine. I guess you can tell whose owner is still around and whose owner has been killed.
But more about that in the upcoming articles.
In the meantime, take a look at my older articles about Romania and about Ukraine.
Do you want a posctard?
Actually, you would be surprised how hard it has become to find postcards in some places. But for you, dear reader, I’ll walk the extra miles!
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Poor Kitty ☹️ I love that wagon turned into a library? Or book store?
Beautiful countryside. Looking forward to seeing more.
Yeah, that cat looked rather disheveled and traumatized.
The other one was very eager to play, not shy at all, very sweet.
At the hotel in Sighet, they also had a cat from Ukraine, brought by a refugee family from there. Once, when I was not quick enough to close the door at night, she snuck out, and the night porter and me had to fetch her from under a car with a broom.
The wagon is a book store. Only 1 $ per book. And very helpful and friendly vendors, who took time for a long chat, although it was obvious that I wouldn’t buy anything. (Most of their books were in Hungarian.)
I missed Alba Iulia for lack of time when I went to Transylvania. I also had to miss Sibiu and Brasov. All the more reason to go back there!
I still haven’t been to Sibiu, and not even to Bucharest.
Romania is such a huge country and it does take a while to travel from one region to the next, so I also think it’s better to take one’s time instead of rushing around. Better to return.