Saturday, January 8, 2011
Well Seasoned (Part III)
It seems that Brasov, the beautiful medieval city in Transylvania, was the place to be on New Year's Eve. We arrived around eight in the evening and found our hillside lodging to be a perfect location (online booking is always a gamble) and that our room, which seemed to be the last to be had in the crowded city, had a great view. This was most fortunate because later after meandering about the square, drinking vin fierte (hot, mulled wine)and finding restaurants all booked up for private parties, we ended up having champagne and snacks in our room and watching colorful fireworks go off all over the city, sounding as though it were under attack, but looking far too merry for war.**** The next day we explored the city, spending some time at the citadel (1580 fortress above the city)where we found the remains of what must have been a fabulous outdoor party the night before! We also walked along the old city wall, found a stunning gem shop, and visited the impressive Black Church, one of the largest Gothic churches in Europe, beginning as a Catholic church in 1385, but becoming Lutheran in the 16th Century. We missed the organ recitals which must be awesome, considering the organ has 4,000 pipes and 4 keyboards.****That night we were fed and entertained like royalty in the restaurant atop the Citadel. In addition to a delicious meal was music by a 10-piece mini-orchestra and four opera singers and dance by two ballet dancers (but no partridge in a pear tree). They were all splendid and the evening was such a bargain! The hall was decorated with fresh greenery, ribbons and candles, and the fact that the walls were also adorned with museum-quality ancient weapons (and some more recent) was only slightly disquieting. Peace on earth, indeed! The next day Lee and I went to Peles Castle (1873), the picturesque Neo-Renaissance palace in nearby Siniai built by King Carol I, one of Romania's most beloved monarchs and under whose reign, independence was won. We enjoyed the tour and on the way back (very slow holiday traffic), we were urged to stop at a roadside vendor to buy fresh sheep cheese--some smoked, some balled up in a belly bag, and some sealed in wood. I bought way too much, but will try to use the branza (mild white cheese) in some recipes and gave the cheese-in-bark to Veronica's mother who has been so generous sharing her farm's good products. The last day in Brasov we did a bit more shopping, ate lunch at a really fine Chinese restaurant on the square, and bade farewell to our very special inn and the staff who had been so helpful. Our nine-hour train ride back to Oradea was in the dark, unfortunately, so we couldn't see the beautiful snowscapes we saw when we went there three days earlier. Over all, the trip turned out to be a memorable way for us to welcome in 2011 here in Romania. Lee will be with me until the 15th, and we're trying to make the finest memories to hold us until our next visit. And sometimes just sitting at the kitchen table and talking about poetry and law and our boys makes for the best ones. He will return to teach a course at UGA and revise his textbook, and I will get on with the work of Peace Corps. Purpose and industry, true to my parents' philosophy, saves us...and poetry, true to mine, keeps me sane and whole. New Year's blessings to all.