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Maria and Gerry’s Travel Diary

Friday, 30 Jun 2006

Location: Cluj Napoca, Romania

MapWe drove out of town heading north to the Hungarian border.Stopped at a German village to se a fortified church where the people could find refuge in times of conflict.There was also a castle on the hill.In the fields saw shepherds and cowherds looking after small numbers .People in the fields weeding sugar beet.A hose pulling an implement between rows of maize an almost medieval sight.We came to the conclusion that because farmers were so poor and could not efford to buy chemicals or artificial fertiliser they are probably very organic.We also had a dicussion about our tour guide who says she is Hungarian but travels on Romanian passport.Yes she said she was born and educated in Romania but considers herself to be an Hungarian.So said I why don't you move to Hungary.That is not easy she says for those with a Romanian passport.You men not easy for Romanians said I. You get the picture.National boundaries have changed so often that each country has minoriies living there.
Had a stop at Sighesoara the place where Dracula was born in 1431,his birth house is still standing in the old town on a hill,easy to fortify and the medeval walls and city gates are still standing.
We spent an enjoyable couple of hours there and walked right to the top of the hill by way of covered stairs to protect from snow in the winter.There was a school and a church up there. Dracula was brought up in the Orthodox faith but became Catholic in order to rule part of Transylvania under Hungarian control.He is quoted as saying that a kingdon is worth a Roman Mass.
Had our lunch in a park in the new town as I had to visit a bank.
Walked back up the hill,looked around the old town had our coffee then down the hill to the waiting bus and on our way.
On the way to Cluj we stopped at one village to see the ultimate monuments to tackyness.Two three level houses with three tiered roofs all garishly decorated.They belong to gypsies who have made a pile of money somewhere and put up these ghastly edifices as the complete expression of conspicuous consumption.The whole irony is that the houses are empty,they do not actually live in them they just want to say we have arrived,we have a pile of dosh do not know what to do with it so we have these attrocious houses .
There were others in simllar vein in other villages so not all gypsies live in squalor on the edge of society.
On arrival in Cluj visited the local botanical gardens part of the university where our tour guide Szusanna studied Environmental Science..
Our hotel was not as good as the others but good enough.Had a good meal there and then off for an early sleep.It had been a long day.