Friday, September 08, 2006

Romania Romania!!!

Our first port of call in Romania was the town of Suceava. Immediately we realized what a different country we were now in, to begin with almost everyone we stammered our 'phrasebook Romanian' at replied to us in English (a little embarrassing) and they had much more modern music, if a little daggy. We also have seen so many more smiles, and the service!! Heaven!! Adam is now happy that we are dealing with plastic money rather than the paper hryvnia that kept disappearing in his pockets in Ukraine.
The money actually confused us for a little as they have just downsized. For example what was once 500,000 is now 50 lei. What made this so confusing was that we knew they had gone from millions to thousands in 2000 but were unaware of this more recent (December 2005) change, the old notes are still in circulation too. Kinda disappointing as we would have liked to get 21000 lei for our dollar rather than 2.1, Oh well. It doesn't help that many people haven't really adjusted to the change so we have had some very weird prices quoted to us.
We stayed a couple of nights in Suceava, seeing the town's ancient citadel and churches and getting used to a new country.
The next town we visited was Gura Humorului (say that 5 times fast) which was a little place we used to base ourselves while we visited the regions painted monasteries. These monasteries were fortified against attacks in the 1500's and as soldiers were sheltering in the grounds between battles the monks decided to paint the outside of the churches, cartoon style, with biblical stories. Amazingly they have largely survived and are pretty entertaining at that, gory too.
One of these monasteries proved to be quite difficult to get to. After a rotten morning getting lost Adam somehow stumbled on an English teacher who enlisted her daughter to take us to the correct bus stop. By bus stop we mean crowd of people at a random spot next to a paddock. Once we had seen the monastery we were then faced with the challenge of returning to Gura Humorului (say it loud) and considering busses were quite infrequent in the two street village we had landed in hitching was looking like our only option. We had seen sooo many people do it already but were quite nervous ourselves as it is not common practice in Australia. After seeing about three other people get lifts in front of us we while we waited we were saved the decision by two people in a van pulling up and asking if we needed a ride, this apparently is a common way of people covering fuel costs. We hopped in and received door to door service, brilliant. Love this place.
Photos: A painted monastery, Countryside near Gura Humorului (say it!)


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