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MAGICAL MYSTERIOUS ROMANIA

If I am not on a holiday or vacation or a fact-finding mission or a study trip what in the hell am I doing? Perhaps I am on a walkabout. The dictionary (Merriam-Webster) defines walkabout as “a short period of wandering bush life engaged in by an Australian aborigine as an occasional interruption of regular work.”  How about…a short period of wandering around engaged in by a restless American woman as an occasional interruption of regular work. It is okay, I think.

This is my fourteenth day in the Balkan region of the European world. I am in the hotel, Pansion Harmony, in the hills of Sarajevo. Down in the city center where I spent part of the day wandering and shopping it is beautiful and historic and lively. The problem is … I have now spent so many days in city centers that are “beautiful and historic and lively” that it is getting harder and harder to keep my level of enthusiasm as high as these vibrant places deserve.  The kind of city centers that we can only dream of in the US for the most part.

The walkabout so far then: September day by day

For the record!

Doing it alone—but then aren’t all walkabouts alone? It is hard to maintain one’s level of energy and enthusiasm when traveling alone. With others you have someone to push you along when spirits flag, to remark upon at day’s end, etc. By the same token, traveling with someone else brings their moods and biases into the picture which can change your perceptions of a place or experience drastically…it’s all a trade-off of course.

ADDING PHOTOS FROM SUCEAVA, HOME OF THE PAINTED MONASTERIES for which I made a long out-of-the way trip. They are magnificent. The following information is from a Romanian tourist site. My photos follow:

Among the most picturesque treasures of Romania are the Painted Monasteries of Bucovina (in northeastern Romania). Their painted exterior walls are decorated with elaborate 15th and 16th century frescoes featuring portraits of saints and prophets, scenes from the life of Jesus, images of angels and demons, and heaven and hell.

Deemed masterpieces of Byzantine art, these churches are one-of-a-kind architectural sites in Europe. Far from being merely wall decorations, the murals represent complete cycles of religious murals. The purpose of the frescoes was to make the story of the Bible and the lives of the most important Orthodox saints known to villagers by the use of images. Their outstanding composition, elegant outline and harmonious colors blend perfectly with the surrounding landscape.

Visitors to the Painted Monasteries will often witness a nun or a monk beating a long beam with a mallet, tapping out a call to prayer. The tradition started during the siege of Moldova by the Ottoman Empire when the Turks forbade the ringing of bells. The striking of wooden or metal bars, known as “toaca”, replaced the ringing of bells and thus, became a tradition, reinforced by the fact that in times of war, bells were often melted down to make cannons.

Whether you are interested in religion, history, art or architecture, you will be intrigued by the construction and decor — exterior and interior — of these edifices.

The best-preserved are the monasteries in Humor, Moldovita, Patrauti, Probota, Suceava, Sucevita, and Voronet. Another, a small church, is located in the village of Arbore. Seven of the churches were placed on UNESCO’s World Heritage list in 1993. The eighth, Sucevita, is awaiting sanction to be added on the list.

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