Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Bucharest, Romania: May 2, 2018

Early this morning we said goodbye to our hostess Maria at Pensiunea Mara in Deseşti to begin the drive to Cluj-Napoca airport for the very short flight to Bucharest. At Diana's suggestion, once in Bucharest we had the taxi drop us as the Ceauşescu House Museum.

The Romanian revolution began on December 16, 1989. Nicolae and Elena Ceauşescu, the presidential couple, were shot by a firing squad on December 25, 1989. Nicolae Ceauşescu was in power from 1965 until the revolution.

Their Bucharest city house has been open for tours only a couple of years. The tour took us through only a small fraction of the 80 rooms in the house. Walking through their house and gawking at their things felt like driving past an accident and being unable to tear your eyes away. It was ghoulish, but I couldn't not look.

The house tour guide said that none of the golden furnishings or plumbing fixtures were gold. He said they were all covered with gold paint not real gold or gold leaf.

The Presidential Couple's bedroom with their night clothes laid out on the bed

Their private movie room
The enormous closets of clothing, shoes, furs are all now tagged and part of the inventory of the house.

The house and its contents are a time machine forever stuck in the 1980s.

While some of the decor would be less than tasteful especially to 21st-century eyes, the many, many mosaics were beautiful 20th century relics.

The walls surrounding the indoor swimming pool were covered in mosaics. It took two craftsmen two years to complete the job.

Detail of brilliant mosaics next to the entrance and exit from the swimming pool room.

The house tour lasted about 45 minutes and ended in a garden space. The peacocks who live here are the 8th generation of those acquired by Ceauşescu. There were several peacocks and pea hens but only one put on a show for us.

When Ceauşescu lived at this property, it was quite secluded. One of the buildings on the former grounds is now owned by the Syrian Government and is the residence of their ambassador. Multi-storied buildings have been constructed on all the adjacent lots. The house is no longer secluded.

Later in the evening we walked around some of Bucharest's old city streets enjoying the classic architecture and the lively pedestrian streets. We re-visited the beautiful Romanian Orthodox Stavropoleos Church built in 1724 in the Brancovenesc style. Despite being dwarfed by the tall buildings that surround, its architecture still demands attention.

Tomorrow afternoon we will begin the long journey home from Bucharest, to Munich, San Francisco, Sacramento. It has been a fabulous vacation.

K + K Elisabeta - our second stay at this hotel. It is close to the old city as well as the metro system. Their rooms are very comfortable and above all their staff is extremely helpful and courteous.

Ceauşescu House also called the Primaveri Palace. Tours can be booked in advance at the website.

Southern Maramureş County - Cerneşti and Rogoz, Romania: May 1, 2018

From Deseşti we drove south and back over the Gutai Mountains into the Lăpuş River area to Florean Museum. Florean is an open air museum of stone sculptures. Sometimes the organizers have summer sculpture programs. The sculptures are left behind and nature reclaims the space. We wandered....

It was a nice walk, about 2 kilometers in from the national highway.

From the Florean Museum we drove to the town of Rogoz which is the site of another one of the eight wooden churches that make up the UNESCO Heritage Site of Wooden Churches of Maramureş.

The Holy Archangels Michael and Gabriel Church in Rogoz was built by the village community in 1663. The interior paintings date to 1785 and were painted by Radu Munteanu (the same painter who did the frescos in Deseşti). As is common for Romanian Orthodox churches, a cemetery surrounds the structure.

The priest of this church said the exterior door is small so that marauding Turks couldn't ride their horses into the church. The size and shape is repeated in the entrance between the narthex and nave.

The priest said that several years ago a bolt of lightning struck the top of the church and traveled down to the narthex stopping only at the small table below the cross. The burn scars to the right of the narthex doorway and on the table top remain.

On the left side of the narthex entrance to the nave there is a painting of angels as escorts for the souls headed to heaven. The person's soul, wearing white, is a more ephemeral being when compared to the angel.

The narthex formerly was the place for women while men were allowed passage into the nave. As customs changed, windows were cut into the walls between the narthex and nave so that all could observe the services. Now, the only requirement is that a woman's head be covered and a man's head should be bare.

One painting in the narthex shows three priests holding a cloth that is filled with the souls of those that are going to heaven.

Painting of Last Supper in Nave
The nave and iconostasis are covered with scenes from the bible.

The interior of the church is small which meant that part of the congregation would be stuck outside. According to the priest, small holes were drilled in some of the walls so that the sermon could be heard outside.

Pensiunea Mara in Deseşti is a peaceful guesthouse with delicious food from which to base a trip to Maramureş.

Diana Condrea owner of Uncover-Romania-Tours is well informed about Romania's history, she's a photographer, she is an excellent traveling companion, and her tour itineraries are flexible and interesting.