Saturday, February 7, 2009

Reno Reports to Romania

Transilvanian winter, just west of Aiud
(Photo from here: LINK)

Late lunch Friday was taken just a block away from the apartment at the Marty Restaurant, a modern, bright streetside cafe on Strada Horea that I have walked past scores of times on my way to get Klaus, or to return home from his parking place. Kathy O., a newly arrived Fulbrighter from the University of Nevada - Reno, and her Romanian friend Simona B., met me there at 2:00 to kick off the weekend.

Not really a newcomer to Cluj, as she has brought student groups here for several years, Kathy knew the Marty to be a good place. Lunch proved good, if unspectacular, after which I volunteered to drive the pair around Cluj a bit as Kathy researched the cost of having a decent mattress made for an apartment she had seen with a sacked one on its non-standard bed frame. As the pair searched for the mattress place, I found an oil filter for Klaus at a parts store (Piese de Auto), but refrained from paying 40 lei per liter for 6 liters of oil. I will check the hipermarket's prices before paying $80 for an oil change.

The first mattress-maker had closed up shop, so we went to a second. There the ladies succeeded in finding what they would need... if Kathy took the subject apartment. But, since she was still looking, no purchase was made.

Leaving this store, we decided to take a random ride on a nice afternoon, so I simply went straight up the street we were on. It climbed a gentle grade, turned to dirt, then mud, and continued southwestward out into a developing area, with fine new homes still under construction in small neighborhoods, with countryside in-between. In one such patch on the right, two deer were grazing, visible chiefly by their big white hindquarters. European White-tail deer don't have to flick their tails to reveal their white butts! We turned around, as the road appeared to be deteriorating into a bog. As we came back down, we saw that there was, in fact, a whole family, or small herd of deer, calmly munchng on the wild brown grasses and shrubs in the field. Nice.

By this time we had gained enough familiarity with each other to perceive that we weren't ready for the afternoon to end. Simona suggested we drive south to a Hungarian-culture village that she knew to be a nice one, some 50 Km south, a bit off the road to Alba Julia. It was a beautiful ride in the late aftenoon past white cliffs rising above the fields, as in the photo (from http://leosuteu.rdsor.ro/apuseni/rimet_e.html)

The Hungarian village of Rimetea had all its houses and buildings painted white, and all had green doors and trim and red tiled rooves. It was clear that this village would spring to life beautiful once the flower boxes were filled with blossoms. But it was midwinter and almost dark, so the effect was not as Simona had hoped it would be. And we were all by now in need of a WC. Fortunately, Simona remembered a "fancy restaurant" just a couple Km farther on. She was right.

In the tiny country village of Colţeşti (colts-esht'), at the end of a muddy though recently-regravelled-but-not-yet-graded lane, we found what can only be described as a lovely small hotel with the unpronouncible (to me) name of Szekelko Kuria Conacul Secuiesc. Check the link. 'Tis a country of contrasts, indeed. We had there tea (or for me, coffee) and dessert. A thoroughly enjoyable way to bring our Friday to a close.

2 comments:

Caroline said...

Dunc-

This looks splendid! (And not only for the tea and desert, having obvious appeal to me!) Can we make this drive when Jesse and I come to visit?

-Cal

Duncan McDougall said...

Cally:

Great idea. I'll even take you there the back way, if I can fund it again. See "Back to Colţeşti."

-Duncan