Tag Archives: Romania

If your car ever happens to stop in front of a painted egg museum in Romania, I recommend you go inside

We were traveling East, though the mountains of Northern Romania.  This (and the occasional cascade of sheep across the highway) was our view: Normally I’d have micromanaged every stop on our itinerary, but we were in the unusual position of taking a private tour—something I’d sorted out at the last minute so we could visit […]

My ten favorite works of art in situ and why you should see art in its original context

Of course I had a conversion experience: it happened in Florence, back when I wasn’t such a prepared traveler.  HOB and I were on our honeymoon eating too much gelato and wandering through the art historical wonders of this Renaissance city.  We entered the Museum of San Marco on a whim and were instantly drawn […]

So much boot slapping, so many gorgeous clothes: traditional dance and music in Northern Transylvania

Remember that one day we were in Hoteni, way up North in Maramures, Transylvania in the midst of a spring festival dating back to the Roman era?  That was a superlative day, a day we spent pressed up next to a small stage watching traditional Romanian music, dance and song. I attend a lot of […]

Relaxing (and waxing) in Brasov

An important (and overlooked aspect) of itinerary planning is where to spend your jet lag day.  You know, that time when you’ve crammed yourself into at least two flights, failed to sleep, eaten airplane dinners with weird meat and dubious gravy,  gone way too long without showering or brushing your teeth and then—hooray!—all that’s over, […]

Do not wear a tube top when visiting Voroneț Monastery

Listen up people: the stunning Voroneţ Monastery was built in only three months and three weeks in the year of 1488.  And if that wasn’t remarkable enough, it’s colorful exterior frescoes are magically well-preserved.  This is a world famous UNESCO World Heritage Site and you absolutely should not visit while wearing a tube top and jeans shorts.  SHOW SOME […]

Drinking Pálinka: how to find the moonshine makers of Northern Romania

They call it Pálinka, horinca, or brandy.  I call it moonshine.  Whatever you call it, people are making it all over Maramureș. Here’s how to find the hooch: first walk around until you smell wood smoke.  Follow the smell to a house with a smoking chimney. Are there buckets of fermenting apples near the house’s […]

The spiritual warmth of Deseşti and the wooden churches of Maramureş

So I have this thing about sacred art and architecture.  And in all my travels to see religious art in situ, I’ve never experienced sacred spaces as unique as the wooden Churches of Maramureş in Northern Transylvania.  During 1000 or so years Hungarians ruled Maramureş, they forbid the Orthodox Romanians from building churches in stone.  As a delightful result, a distinct style of […]

Sighișoara, Transylvania: Dracula font with a side of Dracula sauce

As a rabid fan of medieval hill towns, I was eagerly anticipating Sighișoara, whose 14th century citadel and historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Sighișoara is pretty, with pastel-colored houses all nestled inside a ring of towers.  But mostly, Sighișoara is a Dracula kitsch-encrusted tourist trap. Some Goth 23 year old graphic designer probably invented the Dracula font. Vlad is […]

The Merry Cemetery of Sarpanta, where death does not deprive you of the dignity of ordinary life, a first-rate portrait and complaints about your mother-in-law

I don’t like to talk about it, but there was a dark time in my life.  I mean, I’m not ashamed exactly–it’s not like I was beating puppies or something.  The truth is, I was portrait painter.  An earnest, hard-working, spectacularly unsuccessful portrait painter.  No need to cue what my grandma called “the world’s smallest violin playing the […]

Moldovița Monastery and The Real Siege of Constantinople

After a six hour car ride (with several stops to enjoy marvelous views of the Rodna mountains) we pulled up to the entry of the Moldovița Monastery and hurried inside the gate.  As we had limited time, HOB and planned to focus on the monastery’s masterpiece: the fresco of The Siege of Constantinople. A few […]