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.
Our host and hostess from Casa Muntean dressed us up in gorgeously crafted traditional clothes inherited from their parents. How do we look?
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.
I brake for sheep.
Inside the wooden church of Hoteni.
These plows could be 500 years old (except for the air-filled tires).
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.
This rather naughty fellow runs a distillery and has a spigot for brandy in his front gate (!)
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.