Wednesday, August 13, 2008

In the Heartof Transylvania

We set off from Cluj-Napoca yesterday, and (amazingly) it felt good to be back in the saddle. For about ten minutes. Then we hit the 3-plus mile hill out of Cluj, which involved major traffic. It was a long pull up, then a terrifying run down the other side, on a major four-lane road. It was a pleasure to get to Turdu, which is otherwise a pretty grim industrial town, because the road shrank to two lanes and the traffic slowed enough to allow jumpy cyclists (e.g., moi) some peace of mind, even on a very warm day.

We have found the hills of Transylvania -- three more after the pull out of Cluj. Somewhat contrary to expectations (that whole "sylvan" thing in the name), the area is not heavily forested. It reminded me a bit of the Scottish highlands, with hills that looked a bit scalped. The agriculture also does not seem as intensive as we saw in Poland and Hungary, though my eye for that is not particularly learned. One of our current hosts suggested that the Austrians and the Russians (most recent occupiers) made off with the timber.

We turned off the main highway after about 50 miles, and made our way to Dicsoszentmarton (Tirnameni on your Romanian map), to the partner church of our home Unitarian Church, Cedar Lane in Bethesda, MD. We were greeted by the minister, Endre Nagy (in Hungarian, they put the surname first, but I have flipped the names for our Western readers) and his wife Dodi, pictured above. Daughter Szilla (sp?) and her recent fiancee, Gerard, provide the dazzling English language skills that keep the conversation going. She's an aspiring lawyer and he teaches history -- a pretty good match for me. We just missed son Endre, who flew yesterday morning to California for a year at the Starr King Seminary in Berkeley.
The family has put us up with wonderful grace and hospitality, which has included good Hungarian food and excellent wine made at home by the good minister. (Every seminary should have wine-making in its curriculum; best wine of the trip.) The talk, and the wine, lasted well into the night.
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Anonymous said...

It warmed my heart to see your photos of Endre, Dodi and the church! Having sat at their table, enjoyed the wine and the conversation, I can imagine what a pleasure it is to be with them.

Please give the family my love...and good luck on the rest of the trip!

- Heather

Josh said...

We travelled a very similar route to you for the first half of our trip from Berlin to Istanbul last summer. We made an animated film about the trip which you can watch here if you like . Its sad to see how much corruption there was at the border when you travelled. Fortunately we didn't experience any of that