Travelling with Jessica Summer 2008

Our Trip in Romania and Moldova


After staying with my friend Bucharest-Anna (who is soon to become Minsk-Anna) and having seen Ceausescu’s monstrous House of the People (today the Parliament building), Jessica and I took a train up to Sibiu. The Romanian landscape was beautiful and Jessica found it as astonishing as I did the first time I saw it.


We had booked a room in a small guest house (Pensiunea Podul Minciunilor) right by Sibiu’s centre and we ended up in a small room under the roof top, so we got a for Sibiu typical roof window – it was super cute and we loved it. 


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Our small roof window


The first day, we just walked around in the town and visited their City Museum to learn a bit about Sibiu’s history. The second day, we hired a driver who took us down through the Transylvanian Alps on the Transfagarasan Road where we saw Romania’s highest point and Lake Vidraru. We visited several churches and monasteries on the way, as well as a beautiful summer residence once belonging to a noble family, but our main destination was of course Dracula’s castle on the top of a mountain in Wallachia. We climbed the 1480 steps to get there, but it was well worth it. Not only to see the ruin of the castle but also for the view. Tired as we were after the climb, Jessica and I wondered however how Dracula himself got there – if he walked himself or if his servants carried him. Jessica concluded that since he was a vampire, he flew of course. We had more pity for his Turkish prisoners who built the castle and had to carry up all the bricks and stones.


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Along the Transfagarasan Road


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Jessica and I at Lake Vidraru


On our way back, we went through the spectacular Olt Valley, which with its river running through it is more like a canyon that a valley. The landscape was almost breathtaking.


Our driver Marius was great! Super nice and enthusiastic, and wanted us to see everything that might be of interesting. We got in touch with him through the Carpathian Agency Center on one of the court yards on Piaţa Mare in Sibiu. If anyone goes to Sibiu, I cam really recommend him.


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Marius and I


After three nights in Sibiu, we took the train down to Constantia to see the Roman remains and to swim in the Black Sea. For those of your who don’t know, Jessica is an archaeology students and has a profound interest in ethnology and religious history, so travelling with her to historical places and archaeological sites is like having my own private guide – it is fantastically interesting! There were both Roman and Dacian remains around Transylvania too, but unfortunately quite inaccessible, so we did not have a chance to see them.


Constantia gave the impression of once having been a pretty and multicultural commercial centre on the coast. While it is still an important harbour, it now seemed poor compared to the other places I have seen in Romania. Both houses and infrastructure were ill maintained and in desperate need of renovation. Constantia did however have many interesting things to see including Roman ruins and a 2000 year old mosque, a really good history and archaeology museum, a mosque, and a number of churches of various Christian faiths. The beach was also better than I expected after Odessa’s beaches, so we had two very nice and interesting days.


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The Black Sea


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Jessica at one of Constantia’s archeological sites


Travelling back to Chisinau took an entire day. I think that was what surprised Jessica the most; the time it takes to travel even fairly short distances. I have gotten quite used to it by now, but bad infrastructure and slow transportations is really a major obstacle to economic development in countries.


I was happy to get back to Chisinau and only sad that Jessica could not stay longer. Monday, we just walked around and saw the main sites in the city. Tuesday, I had to get back to work so Jessica walked around the city herself, had lunch with me at my favourite cantina, and then came by the World Bank Office to join us for a small celebration on our roof.


When we got back to my house, we sat down outside for a while and my neighbour Sofia came out with fruit, chocolate, and three glasses of her mother’s homemade wine. It was her birthday the day before and she wanted to celebrate this a bit with us (birthdays are a big thing here in Moldova and can be celebrated for weeks), and to welcome Jessica to Moldova. So we sat there talking for a while, and then she gave Jessica a bottle of Purcari wine as a gift to bring back to Sweden. So immensely nice and generous!   


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Jessica and Sofia outside my house


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