I keep my blog as a personal record of what I'm up to, which might be seen as working towards "An elegant sufficiency, content, retirement, rural quiet, friendship, books, ease and alternate labour, useful life"

I'm certainly not there yet.  There is quite some way to go!










Entries in Romania (2)



We thought we were going to spend the afternoon at Histria, a Roman settlement to the north of Constantza, but as sometimes happens, others had a different idea.




To begin with, we were resistant to the idea of spending the first part of the afternoon in the “Ethnographic Museum” but as soon as we saw what treasures were inside, we changed our minds pretty quickly.





The front hall had a collection of these icons from Transylvania, painted on glass.  Here’s St George and the dragon.

Mark had gone on ahead, aware of the short time we had to see everything, and came back to report that I needed to look upstairs.  But I needed a photo permit and the queue to buy one was enormous.  My face must have told the story, for the lady waved me on upstairs, suggesting I buy it on the way out.




The folk costumes were wonderful and each one so very different from the last.  I suspect that, with enough time, one might be able to identify more or less every hand embroidery technique somewhere in that room, each identifying a particular region of Romania.




The blackwork panels on the sleeves of this costume were remarkable





How’s this for a piece of white embroidery?  Exquisitely worked, the sleeves were stitched to match this front panel.




Some cutwork here, again, matching sleeves and front panel.




These panels appeared to be in fine wool tent stitch, applied to a light wool crepe shirt.

You get the picture?  I’m aware that we have fifteen minutes and simply rush around trying to see and record as much as I can, in notebook and with my camera.  I realise too late that I didn’t note what came from where, so can only say “Romania”.




It was time to go, to drive for an hour into the countryside towards Histria.  Every inch of earth was cultivated – we drove through just one village with simple cottages each one surrounded by a garden full of produce.  No room for ornamental gardens here.  Many cottages had a well in the garden too and though there was the occasional satellite dish on a roof, only a few homes had a TV aerial.  The roads were poor with huge potholes and only a few cars passed us by once we were out of the main urban sprawl.




Histria was a little disappointing.  Talked about as the “Romanian Pompeii” it’s hard to make the comparison for there is very little to see here.  We followed our guide and tried to imagine what she spoke about, but really, it was a step too far for us in most cases.




We did enjoy seeing the nest of storks though!




After just an hour, we were pleased to leave the heat of the afternoon sunshine and return to the coach to drive back to Constantza.  Another fun and interesting day to talk over this evening – this is such a fascinating trip.






Another day, another good reason to get the passport out.  This morning, we docked in Constantza, second city of Romania and fourth largest port in Europe.  (see, we were listening!)  We took the shuttle bus into town after breakfast and found ourselves in Ovid Square, named after the poet who was exiled here after writing an overly erotic poem – or so the story goes.




The square was not exactly well tended nor immediately bursting with possibilities.  It’s Sunday and all was fairly quiet.  We’d got off the bus right outside the Archaelogical Museum but the dusty relics in a covered veranda were not sufficient to tempt us inside




We wandered a little, finding a grassy square to the other side and looked more closely at the Roman memorials set in line along the pathway.




Dating from around 2 or 3 AD, there were translations of the inscriptions (just as well, for we don’t read Greek!) and these were not only interesting but rather moving.




Most ended with good wishes, this one reads “Live long, passer-by”.




As we wandered amongst these stones, we noticed that almost every woman who passed was carrying lilies.  Some held one or two stems, others a whole bunch.  What was going on?  Suddenly finding a new focus for our morning in Constantza, we determined to find out.




The trail was quite easy to follow.  Just around the corner were sellers of the flowers.  Only lilies.  We continued down the street, to find more.




But no-one tried to sell us the flowers and we followed a the trail a little further.




The answer lay in the church with the panel above the door, showing a saintly portrait including an image of a lily.  Women (one or two men, but this was a mostly female activity) were taking their lilies into the church for blessing, then bringing them home again, to celebrate a particular festival.  Quite what, we have no idea; when we can google more freely, we will try to find out!




We stood for a while, quietly observing the local custom and watching the people before going a little further towards the harbour and the old Casino, a relic of an earlier, more prosperous time.




As we walked along the Bdul Elisabeta, we passed a smarter, more prominent Orthodox church




Like a moth to a flame, I was drawn to look more closely at one of the doors along the side of the building




People were going in and out of the main door and I could hear music inside.  Covering my head, I joined the women as they went through the heavy wool curtain and stood with them inside and absorbed the wonderful atmosphere of this ancient ritual.

Not a square inch of the interior was unadorned.  Every wall was covered with painted icons, in deep blues and rich reds with gold highlights which shone in the candlelight.  In the centre of the nave was an enormous gold incense burner and behind it, an iconostasis which I would have loved to have seen more closely.

The congregation stood, as is the way in an Orthodox church, shoulder to shoulder – there was not much room for newcomers and yet everyone shuffled a little to let us in.  Somewhere at the front, the priests were conducting the ceremony, moving about to bless those who made their way to the front.  All the time, there was the most moving chant with that deep bass undertone so representative of Orthodox music.  I could have stood for hours, taking it all in.




But it was time to go, to return to the ship for a short break before this afternoon’s activity: A drive out into the countryside to Histria, a seventh century BC settlement.  On the way there, we stopped at the Ethnographic Museum where there were some interesting artefacts including this icon painted on glass, a speciality of the Transylvania region.

More later!