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July 19, 2002

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Our driver, Chris, likes to relate everything to himself or the greatness of Romania. Ask him for a coffee and he's likely to give you his personal feelings about coffee and how Romania invented it first. He makes a habit of asking a you a question and then answering it before you can say anything. Don't ask about Communism. He believes that since we haven't grown up under Communism, we haven't learned wisdom that only comes by suffering under Communism. He's rabidly anti-Communist, anti-Gypsy, anti-Muslim, anti-Hungarian, and anti-Russian; it's a big anti farm. So with our megalomaniac driver we visit villages and towns named Danes, Targu Maresh, and Bistrita. We eat lunch at another one of Dracula's castles, a place where the real Dracula never heard of, but good marketing never cares about being historically accurate. We eat a traditional lunch - mushrooms, cabbage stuffed with meat, country potatoes - while listening to bloodthirsty tales of Dracula, Vlad the Impaler. Vlad ruled Wallachia during the mid-1400's, fighting Turks and defying Hungarians at every opportunity. He impaled his enemies and legend says he always dined with a Turk writhing on a stake nearby. Chris loves Vlad the Impaler, a man who in his opinion would have known what to do with Communists and Gypsies: drive a stake up their backsides and let them wriggle to an agonizing death.

Towns change as we pass over the Carpathian Mts, from Transylvania into the Moldavia provinces of Romania; the spires of catholic churches disappear in Moldavia, only Romanian Orthodox here, and houses are decorated in a different style (bigger, two storey ginger bread style in Moldavia, in contrast, Transylvania's are multicolored, two or three room boxes with a cross over the attic). By evening we reach one of the painted monasteries of Bucovena; these are protected by Unesco as world heritage sites and they're the most famous churches in Romania.

Transylvanian home in the village of Danes
Moldavian home on the road to Voronets. The fancy outhouse covers a well, the home's water supply, and keeps it safe.
Alba Julia, straddling Transylvania and Moldavia, a good place to see Orthodox and Catholic churches together (the Catholic churches disappear in Moldavia).
How would you judge two men in skirts? Somehow, the monks think a skirt is more modest than shorts. The Last Judgement frescoe on the Voronet monastery may be the best of this region's art. Each monastery has its own color scheme. Voronet uses blue as the predominant color, and this vibrant hue has become known worldwide as Voronet blue.
Gypsies stand out and receive a lot of prejudice for being nomadic and different. Approximately 2 million Gypsies, or Roma, live here, the world's largest Roma community. We saw some of their covered wagons on the outskirts of town..