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    A five day trip through Transylvania.
A five day trip through Transylvania. 
In October of 2011 I took a 5 day trip to Cluj-Napoca, the fourth largest Romanian city in the region of Transylvania.

Previous to my arrival I was not expecting this culture nor the country itself to be so interesting and beautiful. One of my first impressions was of a wonderfully friendly society, where hospitality is very much in evidence. Romania, and especially Transylvania, is highly influenced by many different cultures. The people are open, courteous and live in what seems to be spontaneous disorganization. Something which is entirely unknown to me as a native German.

In Romania I couldn't find any of the German rectangularity; the majority mindset seems to be improvisation and use for expediency, often form did not follow function. Large parts of the population are still basing themselves on old standards. Twenty years after the end of the communist era, there is still a generational conflict roiling between those who want to preserve tradition and those who welcome the increasing growth of Western influences.
In passing it seemed at times to be a constant struggle to break free from an old world. In the yellow light of street lamps you could see the most magnificent churches throwing their shadows onto bleak concrete buildings.
Foggy streets of Cluj-Napoca
Sibiu / Hermannstadt
Salina Turda
Worshippiing St. Barbara
Then, far from crowded civilization, a completely different picture opened itself to me:

The rich natural splendor of Romania. I came to know it as rugged, raw and untouched. An infinite distance which hid its treasures well. Then suddenly, there would stand a house, flowers and vegetables cultivated in the front yard, a dog baking in the sunshine in a courtyard. Brief moments which shock with the reminder that people actually live in this seclusion.

As I stood there, on a rocky outcrop amidst the Carpatian Mountains, my own insignificance impressed itself upon me. My existence suddenly seemed so meaningless when faced with the natural wonders directly in front of me; Fog draped mountains towering over seemingly endless valleys. Each furrowed by rivers that have been carving their way through the landscape for thousands of years. All alongside impermeable, thriving forests, shimmering in glorious autumnal color- A true haven for the eyes.

Unfortunately, 5 days wasn't anywhere near enough time to take in as much Romania as I would have liked. All the more reason to return.
Valley in the Carpatian Mountains
One of many stray dogs