With more strange border interactions and weaving through a sea of carted horses we returned to the Romanian north. Our next star on google maps was in the town of Cluj, but the road hours ran too long so we stopped for the night in Campulung Moldovenesc. There was still a little daylight left and our hostess informed us of the towns annual cultural festival happening down at the stadiums. Road weary and a little disillusioned by the rain we did not really want to go out to be cultural, so we politely said thanks for letting us know and retired to our strange little room filled with paintings of flowers, Jesus and teddy bears.
Next thing we knew there was a knock at the door and two smiling young folk with very little english greeted us. They had come to accompany us to the cultural festival at the whim of our hostess. Being too polite to resist their youthful fervor we got back in the car and drove them to the festival. A large field was filled with stalls touting local cheese, wine, jams and more cheese. We were introduced to our festival guides mother who had a stall selling homemade liquor and jam made of fruits of the forest she had gathered from the local woods. After a sample of her blue berry wine we were enticed to purchase more wine and some jam. We walked around as the drizzle turned to a pour checking out the local carving. A stage propped up a band playing traditional music and men in traditional dress wrestled with incredibly muscular horses trotting around for show.
The best part of our Camp Moldo stay though was the amazing home cooked meals from our motherly hostess. Whatever that soup was it tasted like warm hugs and Emm became very fond of the berry liquor, also sourced from the local woods and brewed at home.
After an amazing breakfast of everything homemade and local we hit the road continuing on to Cluj-Napoca. It sucked. The rain came hard and the roads were full of slow horses and crazy drivers. We finally made it into Cluj and headed to the Fabrica de Pensule. An old industrial complex that was once a paint brush factory that had been converted into art studios and galleries. Quiet as a ghost town we wandered around searching for signs. We finally bumped into someone who explained that there were no current exhibitions and that they were all opening in a weeks time.
We got back in the car grumpy, wet and hungry. Driving to our accommodation in a small nearby town called Turda. Greeted with more pictures of Jesus and flowers we spent the rest of the grey afternoon blogging and looking out of the amazing bay window.
Now comes one of the best bit. SALINA TURDA! An old salt mine turned into a museum/amusement park with the cleaver use of lighting and architectural wooden sculpture.
With underground Ferris wheel, mini golf, bowling, table tennis and more! The best bit was rowing through the light ripples in the black lake. The salt creates an eerie atmosphere in the cold air deep underground with its slick, almost slimy texture and amazing patterns. So many different textures with rough patches, smooth shiny surfaces, stalactites and crystal-like growths.
On our town explorations for food and booze we found some Crap.
Back on the the long and windy Transylvanian roads stopping in cute little mountain towns in creepy restaurants covered in dead local fauna we turn off the main road in search of a church built onto an old pagan temple.
Driving past puzzled farmers whilst trying to navigate the almost non existent road we soon come upon our destination. An old bearded man alerted to our presence from the many barking dogs silently let us into the building. Old and crumbling the interior felt cool and calming. Ancient paintings of saints covered the walls but strangely many of them had there eyes damaged. Walking around the exterior we observed the many different layers of faith built on top of each other through time.
On our way to the edge of Romania we stopped at a beautiful forest with one of the most amazing waterfalls. Unfortunately we were expecting a decent forest hike, but found that the waterfall was right on the road. The forest was beautiful nonetheless and the small hike ending at an inaccessible hole in a rock was perplexing and amusing.
As we neared the border to Sebia we found a number of huge abandoned buildings. Concrete monstrosities in the communist style where people had been shipped off by the dictator in the past and now lay empty. The buildings had been stripped and had a beautiful loneliness about them. The feeling of abandoned lives given over to ruin and the slow decay of the natural world.