by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
Journeys : Feb March 2011
Louise Cunningham travels some Rough roads in Romania Romanian pothole Rural transport 18 February / March 2011 The idea of a road trip to an exotic destination reeks of adventure. Ten years ago my friend and I ditched the idea of a Northern Romanian road trip because of the frequency of car theft and – well, ditches for roads. But Romania’s 2007 acceptance into the European Union must surely, we thought, have given it the funds to sort out criminal activity and poor infrastructure. This time, our car is a late model silver V W Golf and sometimes we, two sixtyish year-old women, wonder if we are a little unprepared (‘Do you know how to change a tyre?’) as we head off into the unknown. At least it is summer! A couple of hours from the Hungar ian capital of Budapest, we enter Romania. It quickly becomes obvious we are in a different countr y. At the border post a possibly rabid dog with the body of a wolf and the teats of a pig slinks by. Five minutes later we are slowed by two horse- drawn carts overflowing with wood and hay. The border tow n where we change our euros to ron has an air of poverty and dust. Further along the sealed rural road, Oradea is a delight – an untouched art nouveau find to rival Nancy in France. We like ageing grandeur and our hotel has not been touched since the early 1900s. The car ved doors, the sw irling w rought-iron railing, the chandeliers and the breakfast room filled with images of cherubs all compensate for the broken pipes, the r ust- stained bath and the exposed wiring. We experience an eclectic mix of accommodation throughout our trip, from nineteenth centur y villas to World War II Nazi hunting lodges, traditional pensions and rural home-stays. The grandest of all is the baroque Hotel Imparatul Romanilor in Sibiu, once frequented by famous composers and kings. In the foyer, we sit on chairs that we think are genuine Louis X1V! Northward in the Marmares region, we are immersed in the architecture of the area, unchanged over time – dark wooden churches with towering spires and wooden houses with intricately-car ved gateways draw us in. I spend the next two weeks sur reptitiously trying to get photos of women working in fields, women in traditional dress, women carr ying water from the wells, women on horse-drawn carts, women selling mountain blueberries, women at festivals (oops – it was a funeral!) At Sighetu Marmatiei, near the Ukrainian border, I felt I was found out when I was Destinations Road through Bakaz Gorge Photos: Louise Cunningham
Apr May 2011