Mocanita from Maramures

In Viseu de Sus (Maramures County) there is one of the few (or maybe the only) remaining mountain railways with steam traction in Europe. The service began in 1932 for logging and passenger service. Today only the tourist trains are steam powered, all others using diesel fuel.

The trip is almost 22km long and the scenery is green, undisturbed. During the return journey, the last coach partially derailed. The situation was solved without delay, with the aid of another locomotive, a hoist and a pair of wedges.

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Touring in Romania

One thing I really missed was dirt biking in the Romanian countryside. So I joined 3 friends for a day trip near Pitesti. Nice hills, plenty of mud and, as usual, very good time on two wheels! (KTM Exc 300)

I never went to the Romanian far North so, since we were in the mood for more touring, we decided not to miss the chance.

En route I stopped to take this photo in Sighisoara. The city center, a medieval fortified city, is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Looks much better as you get closer 🙂

Next break was in Targu Mures. For many, probably this is just another city, but for me, coming after 7 months in a whole different world, it was inspiring.

Almost every village in Maramures county has a high towered, wooden church. Some of them are also on the UNESCO World Heritage list.

Another interesting and unusual place is the Merry Cemetery. Tombstones are decorated with paintings and funny poems.

Since it was Sunday, many villagers were dressed in national costumes. Haven’t seen many people wearing that kind of clothing before, except for ceremonies…

The Yamah R6 we borrowed for this trip was not even nearly as comfortable as Palomina, especially for Laura. So I left her in Alba Iulia and I continued solo. This allowed me to enjoy some of my favorite roads in Romania (Sibiu – Ramnicu Valcea – Pitesti) at a much higher rate of speed 😀

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Bucharest was one of the biggest surprises of our trip. Maybe it is because we’ve been away for a while. Or, probably, because now we are no longer comparing it only with Amsterdam or Prague but also with Bangkok or Tehran. Regardless of the reason, our former home town felt cleaner and much more welcoming than ever before. So many things have changed: there are new buildings, redecorated parks, remodeled museums and even a new elevated road!

So we continued acting as tourists: we went first to the Romanian Peasant’s Museum. It has many interesting exhibitions, including popular art, traditions and technology.

This is a newly opened exhibition, dedicated to the times of forced collectivization, during the early years of the Communism in Romania. Click the newspaper for higher resolution image (“Scanteia”, Feb 8, 1949).
Then we went to the “Antipa” Natural History Museum. This one was recently reopened, after a long restoration process. There displays look fresh and alive and there is lots of information available in foreign languages as well. Worth seeing it! (been there last time probably like 25 years ago…)

And this is the largest infrastructure project completed in Bucharest during the past 20 years, the “Basarab” bridge. Interesting design and, most important, very useful! Thanks to Mr Cristian for facilitating the photo session on top of the apartment building!

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