Monday, October 22, 2007

October Snow

You heard me, snow.

So I went to visit Zach my PCV buddy in Sibiu this past weekend. When I left on Friday, it was cool and rainy in Lugoj, and the rain continued all the way to Sibiu.

About three hours into the ride, I got a thought. I had packed my camera, but had I packed a memory card? I checked. Nope, of course I hadn’t. So, I wasn’t able to take pictures as I had planned. But, if you want, you can see Sibiu by closing your eyes and imagining a quaint little medieval city, with old architecture, paved squares, large churches and…crowds.

Sibiu has been named one of Europe’s ‘Cultural Capitals’ for 2007. This means there have been numerous cultural events, concerts, art exhibits, and, of course, mobs of people. From what Zach tells me, things seem to be dying down with the onset of autumn. Even with the crowds, Sibiu is still quite a beautiful gem. I wish I had a way to take pictures (just an excuse to go back I suppose).

After wandering around town, and viewing some of the (rather strange) art exhibits in the main square, we decided to go up to the top of the central tower. The way up, a winding spiral stone staircase, was really cramped and quite awesome. Even the arched stone doorway was quaint (having surely been constructed for humans no taller than 5’0”). We had a view of the entire city from the top. Something about the tile roofs and chimneys on all the old houses reminded me of Dick Van Dyk and Mary Poppins.

We also had a cool ‘cultural moment’ when we decided to stop in at an instrument repair shop. The place didn’t really look open, but we knocked on the door anyway. The shop owner opened the door, and let us in. It was warm inside and the space was quite small. Every inch was covered by old string instruments: violins, banjoes, mandolins, cellos, etc. The man looked like a classic artisan, with white hair and moustache, a blue turtleneck, and a red apron. The light on his workbench cast shadows on his deeply wrinkled face. He looked to be in his late 60’s. His hands were busy varnishing a violin; he had just replaced its neck. It was obvious he had been doing this for years and was an expert in his craft. At first he was reluctant to speak, but noticing how earnest we were in trying to speak the language, he eventually warmed up to us. We discovered that he was actually a friend of one of the ladies who had organized Turda Fest.

We left the man to his work, and made our way to the Piata. We were on a mission to make mulled wine (vin fiert). However, we didn’t quite know how to go about it. So, we asked a bunch of little old ladies selling herbs at the Piata. After discovering the process, we bought the necessary ingredients, and carried through with the plan. It didn’t turn out too badly.

Ari, a PCV who had just finished his 2 years in the Republic of Moldova, was in town for the weekend. He had stopped in Sibiu on his way to Bosnia. He was staying in a hostel, but Zach and I hung out with him pretty much the whole time. It was interesting to talk to him and gain some of his insights, since he had just finished his tour. It was also nice get the perspective of a PCV from another country in Eastern Europe.

On Sunday I woke up to see snow falling outside (it was falling quite hard, in fact). Granted, the ground was far too warm for it to stick. But still, it’s always nice to see the first snow of the season.

It was a cold walk to the train station, the snow stinging my eyes. Ari and I took the same train, since he was headed to Timisoara, where he would stay with a friend of mine before catching a train to Belgrade. I was happy to hook him up with a place to stay. Hopefully everything worked out ok.


Rachel said...

Hey, I saw my first snow of the season that very same day, here in Boulder, Colorado! Funny how that works out.

Sibiu sounds really cool. Did you see any Romanian nannies floating around with umbrellas?! Maybe you can hit up your friend for pictures... or just go back like you said. Your music shop anecdote makes me wonder... how much have you heard in the way of traditional Romanian music? Anything so far? I've heard a few of Bartok's "Romanian" dances, but since he was Hungarian, I don't even know if that counts. Just curious.

The Book Guy said...

If you're in Transylvania it counts! I had a fundraising event in St. Louis that featured three Romanian-born musicians ands Bartok was a featured aspect.

Try your local library for what they might have on disc. It's usually gypsy music, that counts.

nominated to PC Eastern Europe