Winding down

Though we have four days remaining of our trip, in many ways it feels like this experience is coming to an end. My energy is a bit low, I have a touch of homesickness, and my patience is wearing thin. At the same time I'm feeling anxious about fitting in every last thing I want to do or see in Bucharest before we leave tomorrow night for Istanbul. 

Yesterday was a wifi-less day, which is why there was no blog post. Of course, I was fine with that because, as I mentioned before, my impatience has made it so that I dread having to sit down before going to bed and summarize an entire day's worth of experiences in tidy little paragraphs. I'm especially dreading having to write about yesterday because so much happened in the form of conversations. 

We spent the entire day in Galați with family, arriving first at Radu and Veorica's home, where we would be staying that night. We arrived to an enormous spread of food, and place settings with multiple dishes--a sign that more food is to come. We spent the afternoon eating and drinking, beginning at the dining table and then moving into the back courtyard to sit in hammocks and lawn chairs. It was the perfect pace for a sunny Sunday. 

The whole family in Galați was there, joined by Radu's two sons, Radulicu and Ionuț--they were the final two cousins I had yet to meet. After finishing lunch, we all moved on to Nicoleta's home, where another enormous spread of food awaited us. My dad was able to spend more time with Sonia and share family stories, while I was busy sampling some of Nicoleta's homemade brandies. Noticing how much I enjoyed the cherry brandy, she packed some for me in a giant water bottle to take back home.

I also had the chance to get to know my cousins better as we spent a good amount of time talking in the courtyard about current events, video games, and what life was like under communist rule. On the whole, yesterday was about strengthening newly formed bonds and learning more about my family's history and why certain things are the way they are. 

 

Bravo, bravo

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I did not write yesterday because by the time I was able to, I had already been awake for 24 hours straight and the last thing I wanted to do was stay up for a bit longer to write about a day that I mainly slept-walk through. So, let's pretend yesterday didn't happen even though it did involve a wonderful dinner at Sergiu & Adriana's home, where we will be staying during our visit in Bucharest.

Today was our crash course into Bucharest sightseeing and history. Although this might be an unpopular thing to say, I have found myself really drawn to the communist-era architecture. Probably because it's unlike anything I've ever seen before. Of course, the older architecture that has been preserved in the city is even more beautiful. It's just there's so much more intrigue and rawness to the country's communist history.

We drove around the city for a bit before parking and walking around the old part of town. This is where the city best lives up to it's previous reputation as "little Paris". This entire area is closed off to motor vehicles, so we were able to walk around and sit outside for a coffee and snack.

We visited one of the older Orthodox churches, where we bought candles to light for our living and deceased relatives/friends. The candles are lit and placed in (what appeared to be) bronze lockers--one labeled vii (for the living) and  "adormiti" (asleep, or rather, deceased). We lit a few for each and crossed ourselves after placing them in the lockers. 

After wandering through the old part of town, we continued to Herăstrău Park, to visit the Natural Village Museum. Wow. This museum does not receive the credit it should in travel guides. It is an outdoor museum and contains the traditional houses from around the various regions in Romania. Even Serge, who isn't a fan of museums, enjoyed himself. What was most interesting to observe was the similarity the houses from the Moldova region had to those of my grandparents, or rather, the parents of Serge and my dad. Some of the houses were outfitted with furniture and other domestic tools which struck a strong resemblance to the way my grandparents decorated their home.

After the museum, we enjoyed a cocktail on the lake (in the same park) before dashing off to dinner reservations at Caru' cu Bere. We were told this was the place to go for a traditional Romanian meal. Plus, they had dancers perform traditional dances--one of which was...flamenco? It was an interesting moment for me in which my two heritages clashed in an unsuspecting manner. But what really took the cake was when dad was asked by a very attractive dancer to join him on the floor. 

We also had a somewhat sad looking Marcel Marceau come up to us with various hats and other costume props who offered to have our fortunes told by his pet parakeets. My fortune was spot on, and I paraphrase: "Do not listen to men, do not trust them. Whatever you do, do not follow the advice of men." At least, that's how I remember it.