Immersed in the traditional culture of Maramureș

Traditional culture is thriving in Maramureș, to the point where it felt at times as if we had slipped back a few centuries. The culture is alive, though, not some kind of faux-bucolic Marie Antoinette village. Villagers driving horses on wooden carts and working the land entirely without machines use cell phones. Grampa may not have a flush toilet, but his son is off working in Atlanta and humors his dad that he’ll soon come home and marry a village woman. The owner of our guest house lives in a traditional wooden home, runs his business online and loves to watch the Comedy Network. Cars are speeding around narrow curves, narrowly missing the cows, sheep, dogs, cats and chickens just chilling on the center of the road.

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Our host and hostess from Casa Muntean dressed us up in gorgeously crafted traditional clothes inherited from their parents. How do we look?

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In Maramures, meeting locals is a piece of cake. This lovely woman invited us over for coffee, which was strong and delicious, and we chatted while her dog wiggled and tried to lick my face. Curious neighbors popped their heads in the door to see who the strangers were.

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I brake for sheep.

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Inside the wooden church of Hoteni.

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These plows could be 500 years old (except for the air-filled tires).

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We saw this woman weaving on her porch and we stopped by to check it out.  The wool she’s weaving with was spun by hand.

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This rather naughty fellow runs a distillery and has a spigot for brandy in his front gate (!)

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In Breb.

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Good night!

We stayed in two guest houses and both guest houses offered tours of the area. While normally we travel entirely independently, we chose to take tours with both guides. The tours were excellent and brought us to places we never would have discovered on our own.

 

How we got to Maramureș: guided tour departing from Sighisoara.

Where we slept: Casa Muntean.  Price: €18 for a double.  Recommended: highly.

Where we slept: Village Hotel.  Price: €30 for a double.  Recommended: highly.

 

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9 comments

  1. you look great in the traditional outfits. I’ve been to Transylvania and loved it too!

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  2. Thank you Alicia! Where did you go in Transylvania? HOB is of Hungarian descent and I think he looks quite natural in the clothes (except that his head is too big for the hat).

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  3. OK, now you have me. What a combination of the ancient and the modern. And people genuinely glad to meet you! I wonder how you are getting around. My husband drives anywhere, but Romania might be a bit of a challenge.

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    1. Hi Claudia–you and your husband should definitely go to Romania! You can get around by train/bus to a lot of places, though to the smaller villages I’d recommend a tour. I linked to the two people who took us around (they were both excellent) in the bottom of the post.

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  4. Reblogged this on ika2man.

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  5. How fun that you got to play dress up in Maramureș! We longed to go there, back in 2011, when we spent a long weekend in the country. It was just a bit too far to get to, though, and our days were jam-packed with stops in Bucharest, Brașov and Sighișoara. Knowing that you also like to travel using mass transit, was it difficult getting to and around Maramureș by bus/train?

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    1. I hope you do make it to Maramureș Tricia–it is a unique and wonderful place!

      Yes, we did find it complicated to get around once we left the larger towns, so we hired a driver/tour guide. Fortunately it is quite affordable in this area.

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  6. I just found your blog while looking for info on Brasov. We stayed at Casa Muntean 2 nights ago! We got in quite late, as we had driven all day from Slovakia. We were pleasantly surprised when the owners had a delicious dinner waiting for us! We LOVED Maramures and wished we had scheduled more time there. On our drive through the Izei Valley to Sighisoara, we stumbled upon a church service at Barsana (beautiful liturgy even though we couldn’t understand it), and a festival with music, dancing, speeches by dignitaries in another town along the way. And all along the way, everyone was wearing the traditional clothing which is so beautiful. This is an amazing place! Now we are in Sighisoara for a couple days, then off to Brasov. Thanks for your wonderful blog – I look forward to reading more!

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    1. Thank so much Karen–I’m so jealous that you’re in Romania now! And how funny that we both stayed at Casa Muntean. I wish I could have attended a service at Barsana. It was such a lovely church! Where are you staying in Brasov?

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