May 062014

The Palace of Parliament, second in size only to the Pentagon, was our destination today. Begun in 1984 at a cost of 3.3 BILLION Euros Nicolae Ceauśeau had vast areas of invaluable architectural treasures razed to make for this grandiose pretentious madness of a monument to himself. The 330,000 square meters remains unfinished but is in part occupied the two Houses of Parliament and their supporting bureaucracies.


The Palace


A Committee of Sixty Seats


The Theater


One of Many Enormous Reception Spaces

Following our 3 hour tour of the Palace we had a 3 hour dinner that was without question the most amazing “molecular” food experience of my life.


May 052014

Amazing Silver Roofed Village Architectural Style

We were not certain that we were going to be allowed to enter Romania. Told to pull to the side by the equivalent of the ICE at TJ and to turn over our passports and our car registration, we waited with a feeling of total nakedness and vulnerability for about a 1/2 hour. When Bob decided to inquire about what was happening, he was barked at loudly to get back in the car and STAY there. More waiting and ruminating about whose idea it was to come here. Finally we apparently earned our Romanian passport stamp, all documents were returned and we were free to buy our RoVignette (we now know what to ask for).

The Romanian rural landscape from border to Transylvania is gorgeous–mountain villages, tilled patches of farmland and lovely dense hardwood forests. Most of it appears unchanged from 200 years ago except where 21st century abuts in urban economic development enclaves dotted with enormous factories, huge ugly deteriorating block apartments, enormous car sales and service facilites, and nuclear power plants. We felt that we were driving in and our of century time zones–time beings–very weird but fascinating!!!

Destination Sighişoara, located on the Tarnava River in Mures county, Romania in the historic region of Transylvania. Settled by German craftsmen and merchants, the Transylvanian Saxons, who were invited here by the King of Hungary during the 12th century, to settle and defend the frontier.  Our hotel Is located within Central Sighisoara which has wonderfully preserved  features of a small medieval fortified city. Romania and most of Europe is still celebrating a long May Day break so this well-preserved walled old town and historic buildings are a popular travel destination filled with tourists.  The identifying landmark of the city is the Clock Tower  built in 1556.  Today it is  a Museum of history.

Sighisoara Clock Tower

Sighisoara Clock Tower

Sighisoara Citadel

Sighisoara Citadel

Map Showing Transylvania






May 032014

Today we hope to attend the Unitarian Universalist Church in Dârjiu , a village home to this 13th century fortified church. The church is registered among the historic monuments of Harghita county as one of the most significant monuments of Udvarhelyszék. It is the oldest fortified church in the area. Originally begun in the Romanic style, it was transformed into Gothic style. The fortifications (with five bastions and towers) were built during the 16th century.

As a church fortress it has preserved some very unique architectural forms still in a good condition. The inner frescos illustrating the legend of king St. László were painted in 1419. The style of these frescos suggest the transition from Gothic to Romanticism. The old chapel built in Roman style (13-14th century) was enlarged and rebuilt in late Gothic style in the second half of the 15th century when it actually acquired its present form.

We were able to see that villagers still keep their grains in the fortress even today. They apparently do the same with their ham, bacon, lard and smoked pork products but for some reason they can take grains home every morning but the pork products only once a week.


May 032014

An early start right after breakfast, we were climbing up and down the narrow steep cobbled streets inside the fortification. The surrounding 14th century wall still has nine of the original fourteen Guild Towers. Each of the guilds were responsible for their tower’s maintenance.

As we visited the 17th century Lutheran church, the Church on the Hill, as a wedding music rehearsal being held. The combination of traditional sacred music and Roma tambourines was a delight.


The Happy Wedding Party

Apr 272014

The skies cleared and the sun broke over John Paul’s beatification mass which amassed in the park across from our hotel as we walked out.

We walked through a park and started mid-city with the tacky over-the-top Palace of Culture and Science which apparently resembles a Socialist/Realist tower block. A gift from the nations of the former USSR, it was once the tallest building in Europe. To this day it provokes extreme reaction from admiration to demand for demolition.20140427-184405.jpg

Our next stop was the National Museum which had mounted a very comprehensive retrospective of a Warsaw favorite son Alexander Gierymski.
Apparently the museum has a vast collection of Gierymski’s work including his sketches and small drawings done in preparation for his major works. The show was very interesting, well supported by visitors along with us and although he was not well received in the art world in the latter half of the 19th century he is appreciated for his colorist work and his working class subjects.


The National Museum

Onward to the Lazienki Palace which is a park formerly owned privately as a royal summer residence but is now a museum in a vast 18th century formal park. Lazienki Park has the feel of the world’s most elaborate parks, Central Park included and it like the others was redesigned in about the same period. We join hundreds of families enjoying the beautiful Spring day and gorgeous setting.


About Lazienki Park

We are packing up to leave after breakfast. Apparently we are taking the beautiful weather with us because people below us on the street are shrouded in rain gear and heavy jackets.