June 8, 2016
One of the highlights of our trip thus far has been the Mocanita Steam Train ride through the valley and into the mountains, about an hour from our hotel in Sighet. The train dates from the 1920’s and is fired entirely by wood. Halfway through the journey we stopped for a picnic lunch down by the river and the students spent some time skipping stones, exploring the surrounding woods, or playing cards, because deep in the valley, there was no phone signal!
Yesterday we visited the famous “Merry Cemetery” and then walked to the home of its creator, Ion Stan Patras, where the students met the man currently carving the unique crosses (trained by Patras) and learned about the process which is truly a fine art known only in this area.
Soon it was off to Maramures’ tallest wooden church, where the students got to climb the stairs for a view over the gardens and forest. They met the resident goat and got plenty of fresh air wandering around the 22 hectare woods surrounding the church.
Then we had some free time to lunch in the city of Sighet. The students chose a local restaurant serving traditional food recommended by our guide, and agreed it was not only delicious but excellent value. Following lunch, they had a guided tour of the impressive but sobering Memorial Museum of Sighet. This imposing edifice is dedicated to the many lives lost during the Communist crack down and the students learned about the often painful history of their country.
Last night, after dinner, the hotel served a dessert of Papanasi to great applause and Radu manage to eat three portions, declaring himself the Papanasi King.
Tomorrow is our last day in Maramures- the plan is to go swimming in a salt water pool for a spell, then stop at the local shop for refreshments to make the long train journey (about 14 hours!) back to Bucharest more enjoyable.
A huge thank you to Ms Aida for her support and to our wonderful guide, Ms Ilonka Cuth, for her excellent recommendations and guidance.
The Happy Travellers
Tomorrow is our last day