28 June 2013

Rain?  What rain?
Bran
Rasnov
Brasov

The sun was pouring through the skylight this morning, causing us to get up fairly early.  It must have been at least 9:00.  Looking outside it was still fairly overcast, but there was hope.  The sun was trying after all.

Getting ready we were told to take two umbrellas by our host, even though we would only need one, and we had the raincoats.  To top off the ensemble, we had our jackets on.  Although the rain was not yet falling, we didn’t trust it.  Anyway it was still fairly cool outside.

Famous, must-see Bran Castle!

Famous, must-see Bran Castle!

Walking down town someone had come up to us asking if we needed help, and on explaining what we wanted he directed us to a different bus than what we had expected.  We took the advice on board and continued on.  Reaching the bus stop we tried to catch 12, this is the right bus, but only seems to leave on the hour, so we continued on after working this out.  Making it a street or two further, we caught bus 5.  This was the one that was recommended to us earlier.  Taking us to a street near the station we walked the last bit.  Timing was not too bad, and we only had to wait for about 20 minutes for the bus to Bran.

How doesn't need a Dracula coffee mug?

How doesn’t need a Dracula coffee mug?

Bran as a town is pretty much the same as any other village, but at the centre there are a few restaurants and a lot of tourist stalls.  These seem to be interchangeable across Romania.  They all sell the same wooden spoons, plates (good looking ones though), toy crossbows, traditional clothing, vampire cups, and then everything imported from china designed to be sold for no other purpose than being sold.  Maybe to give to family members at Christmas that you don’t like.

Grass covered roof for extra protection

Grass covered roof for extra protection

We had caught a couple of glimpses of the castle as we approached, and now were at the base of the hill getting our tickets.  After the gate there is a small garden.  Mostly grass, but a small pond and trees.  There was a house down here that has a fantastic moss covered roof.  Not sure how good it is against the rain and snow, but I would be proud to have a roof like that!

Fascinating commentary on the home deco items

Fascinating commentary on the home deco items

Passing the tourists on their way back down, we made our way up the short steep path to the entrance of the castle.  I had elected to go for the Audio Guide, and picked it up inside.  One point on the Audio Guide – Don’t bother.  It only relays the information that is also in English on each room.  There are no stories or anecdotes about the castle, or people that lived there, and was very dry and uninteresting (probably because we were reading the info at the same time).

The mysterious elevator engine

The mysterious elevator engine

It piked our interest at the end, mentioning a mysterious fountain, and that it had been turned into an elevator shaft.  There is a mystery here, but that is all they said.  The elevator shaft finishes at ground level, so where does it go?

The not-so-secret staircase

The not-so-secret staircase

Back to the castle.  Everything was remodelled in the 1930’s by the new Romanian King.  The complex on the outside is quite castle-ish, but inside could be compared to a country manor.  The decorations that are there are all from this time period.  The path you have to take winds around much of the castle, through a secret staircase that is now not so secret, well, actually it is no longer covered at all.  Some of the rooms and chambers were closed off, and considering Bran has sold itself (erroneously) as Dracula’s castle for so long, there is only one little section referring to it.  Most of this was about Bram Stoker anyway, and not the Romanian legends that brought him here in the first place.

Strange layout

Strange layout

That was about it, you can look at the piccies, but the castle is pretty plain and honestly a bit disappointing.  There is no information on the history or stories of the castle, other than a basic run down of who was here when.  Dry and unmemorable.  Going back down, we had done what was expected and seen Bran Castle.  It is one of the only things you cannot miss in Romania, and in all honesty, having seen it, well, it ain’t no Spisske Castle in more ways than one, however it was good to see the difference between a living castle and one stuck 500 years ago.

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D60postviewsCatching the bus to Rasnov was easy, its the same one, and we had driven through on the way to Bran.  At Rasnov you can easily the fortress on top of the hill.  Getting there is another matter.  We walked around the town before finding a place for lunch.  In a courtyard, we found a path leading up the hill, that could take us to the castle, or not.  The cafe didn’t sell food, so we continued on.  Skipping lunch for now, as we had passed the main part of town with nothing here, and also there was a signpost for a road to the castle/fortress.  This took us between the hills and to a parking lot at the bottom of the rear of the hill.  We could have caught a tractor up the hill, but decided to walk.  The road was not bad, but it is steep.  There is no point having a fortress in a valley after all.  At the top, you can see the fortified wall and towers, it is impressive.  Although heavily reconstructed, it is done well.D64postraznovD59postmask

Passing a few souvenir stores, getting our tickets and passing under the portcullis we entered the place.  There seem to be two sections, a large staging ground within the outer walls, with the stone outline of an old church.  Wether the church actually existed or not we don’t know, as it looks as if the stone rubble is quite new.

Going further up the incline, we entered into the old keep.  Here the Saxons had built up to 80 houses.  The village at some stage was within these walls.  Now after passing through another courtyard and portcullis, we can see the remains of these buildings.  At the moment the front ones are being used to store garbage or tiles (At first glance they could be garbage as well).  Moving along the external wall, you come to the reconstructed part of the fortress.  Here you can dress up as a Knight or similar and get your photo taken or be squired by one of the people dressed up themselves.

Every reconstructed house is now a souvenir stall

Every reconstructed house is now a souvenir stall

The majority of the reconstructed buildings are currently souvenir shops.  This would not be a problem, if it was different to any of the other shops we have seen extensively around Romania.  I have a bit of a gripe here, as the trinkets they were selling is mainly Chinese imported stuff.  What does a Spiderman mask have to do with Rosnov Fortress?  The Romanians have brilliant masks used during festivals here that can be adapted for kids.  Even then it would not be too bad, but it is all set up outside the building so you have to walk past nicely set out crap.

The main entrance with double portcullis

The main entrance with double portcullis

Leaving this section we walked to where the main tower would have been.  At the moment it is just a look out point over the region, and taken back to the bare rock.
Going back outside we walked a little way around the exterior wall, through another gatehouse, complete with miniature portcullis.  This one was was in pretty bad condition with all the wood rotting away.  Still it lead us down a bush path back to town.  The place we ended up at the bottom was the same courtyard we had found before!

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Going back to the bus stop, we were about 2 blocks away when the bus went past.  This is unfortunate, as it can be a long wait until the next one, but as we went around the corner, it was still there!  We ran the rest of the way and just made it onto the bus!!

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Stylish black and white fortress

Stylish black and white fortress

Back to Brasov we thought we would make it a hat-trick and went to the Brasov Fortress.  This is now a series of bars and a restaurant in the centre.  From the outside, the fortifications have been kept in shape, but not extensively renovated.  Inside is fairly clean and crisp with white plaster and dark wood to contrast it.  There is not much to see around the place, but still good to visit.  The Venetian style of bastions are here, with small guard towers on the tips.  The inside building is also set up with the same style.  There is a few stairs leading down underground, but they are impassable at the moment, until someone opens them up.  Around the side it appears that there is an underground bunker, and we assume that they meet up in some way or another.

Then back down the hill.  Too much walking for the day, but at least we achieved something!

AA

26 June 2013

Brasov
waiting for the rain to end
walk around
white tower
black tower
old town
churches
old walls
more rain

It is a fairly miserable day again today.  The rain is coming in spits and spurts, and when we got up it was pouring down!B63postview

Logo of Brasov

Logo of Brasov

Eventually it eased off enough to go have a look around town.  Being in the old town centre, it was pretty convenient.  The town is a Saxon city originally called Kronstadt (Crown city).  Most of the housing is turn of the 20th century, with not much distinction to any other old European city.  They are a bit more ornate, and decorated, but the style is the same.  What is different here is that it is one of the seven Saxon walled cities in Transylvania.

B57postgateA lot of the original fortifications are still here, and although most of the walls have been removed to allow the city to grow, they have left sections of it.  We saw a little bit last night when we did a quick walk, and it only whetted our appetite to see more.
We started off in the centre, with the black church.  No, no weird satanic rituals were done here to give it its name.  It was built between 1383 to 1477, but there was a fire in 1689.  It got is name from the blackened walls after this.  Apparently it is the largest Gothic building between Vienna and Istanbul.  I disagree with this, unless they draw a direct line between the two cities and go off that.  The Hungarian Parliament building is much bigger and even the Kutna Hora cathedral is twice its size!

Black tower

Black tower

They wanted to charge us 6Lei each to go in, so we just admired it from the outside.  From here we made our way to one of the old gates.  There is still one gate house intact, and very impressive, but the main gates have been removed to make way for a modern road.  You can’t stop progress unfortunately.  Going around to the base of the hill, we passed the old bastions that are massive constructions with a lot of gun emplacements, and up the hill to the Black tower.  Again it got its name from a fire, and now is renovated and almost sparkling white.  To top it off, there is a too modern glass roof on top.  Going up hill from there and along a small ridge, you come to the white tower.

White tower

White tower

A weird tower with thick walls and odd curving sides.  there is not a straight wall on it!  Inside is a small museum there, but everything was in Romanian so we know as much about that as the map provides!  It is an external tower, independent to the fortifications and used as an early warning watch tower.  There was no ground floor entrance, instead using a wooden ladder to gain access to the second floor.  As it was so close to the walls,it would not have been that important, but gave a good view out over the city.B64postroofs

Old walls

Old walls

The towers were all given to different guilds to staff and maintain.  This was a sign of their wealth and influence.  Most of the towers still proudly maintain the name of their guild.  A few of the bastions still exist, and have the same connection to the guilds.  These are now all small museums, but with the prices they charge, and the quality of the White tower Museum, we decided to skip them.

B58postwall2Walking back through town we went to the side at the base of the mountain.  Here is the most intact section of wall.  Even though the houses inside are built right up to it, using it as their rear wall, on the outside there is a small grassy slop leading down to it as a dry moat, with a path through.  It was a very nice stroll along this part of town.  At one place it seemed that you could go up to the battlements, but this is now closed as the wood on the staircase has rotted away and the structure is now very unstable.

Brasov is a very pretty city in places, and it was good to have a look around before the rain opened up again putting an end to our day.

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Today was a complete write off!  It rained all day, and when it wasn’t raining it was only five minutes from it!  So there was absolutely nothing interesting to type.

AA

25 June 2013

Going to Brasov
Houses in North Romania

H43postdetail4Today is another travel day.  We are leaving Suceava for Brasov.  Suceava is, as said before, not much of a city and in trouble, but it has its own charm.
This morning we were awake ridiculously early, as all the dogs in the block were going ballistic at the cats, and the cats were not quiet either!
Back at the bus station, we had to wait a while for the bus, but it came eventually, and we set off.  The (7.00!!) bus is a direct bus to Brasov, and we expected it to go down the eastern side of the mountains before crossing over, and we would be able to see a different side of Romania.  This was not to be.  The bus ended up going the same way we had come.  Through Pietra Neamt, over Bicaz Gorge, and almost all the way back to Turga Mures before heading south.  This made for an extremely long bus trip that was mostly backtracking. but still we made it to Brasov.
Being dumped near the train station we were luck to already have a map of town.  Going across the road to a little park, we got our bearings.  We had even done research and knew a couple of Pensions we wanted to stay at.  While we were working out the best way to get to the first one, a helpful Romanian came up asking if we needed help.  I love this!  He also let us in on as trange fact for Brasov.  The town centre is on the side of town!  It was built originally between a mountain and a hill.  The fortress is on the hill, and the mountain provided extra protection for the city (which is also fortified!)  As there was no room to expand in these directions, it spread out on the plains to the east, leaving the old town centre fairly isolated from the rest of the city.

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H42postdetail3We walked all the way to the street of the first pension.  With a map this was not hard at all, but finding it was.  We walked all the way up the street without finding it.  We did find another pension that looked good though.  Until we found out that it was fully booked!  Typical.  They said there were a few other pensions further along so we kept walking.  After a long time, there were no other pensions and we were now miles from down town, so we turned around and made for our second option.  This is almost in the centre, so we dragged our bags all the way back, found that street.  It is the main walking street in town, going from the main road to the church.  Finding the number of that pension, only to discover that it also no longer existed.  H41postdetail2By now we were exhausted and depressed.  Sitting there trying to work out what to do, we were discussing staying at the hostel (more expensive than pensions most of the time) when a lady came up and asked if we needed a place to stay.  Her Aunt has a couple of spare rooms, and is using them as a small pension.  It would be the same price as the hostel, but private room and bathroom.  Going to check it out, it was fine.  Even the mattresses were pretty good.  This has been a problem in Romania, as the springs from old mattresses stick into your back and don’t give you a good nights sleep.  Most mattresses are this way.
Still we had tried to prepare, and even though it took hours, we are in a good spot in town, and have a good place to stay.  Terresa, the lady that picked us up was very chatty and helpful.  She is Hungarian, and her Husband German (No big surprise in Brasov).  She did everything she could to make our stay pleasant and provided us with everything we could want.

H40postdetailTravelling the last week or so, we have fallen in love with the Romanian houses is the Bocuvina region. There is amazing detail in the metal roofs, wood work and guttering. Little towers decorating the roofs topped off with metal ornaments. Some very neglected looking houses sometimes still have amazing roofs. Even the sheds, wells and  doghouses have ornate roofs!  Every house has its own well, immaculately maintained and by the look of them, still in use.
And it is nice to see that even new modern houses keep the old ways going and adjust the wood shingles or the metal decorations to fit a new era.

AA
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24 June 2013

Pelerinaj de Sanziene

Suceava is having its birthday today!  Well, it took us a while to find this out, and we are still not sure if it is the city’s birthday or its Patron Saint’s.

Suceava fortress under construction

Suceava fortress under construction

We went up to the fortress in the morning.  This has commanding views over the town, and area.  Unfortunately it is undergoing reconstruction, and there are piles of rubble everywhere.  It was apparently used as a prison for the re-education of political dissidents under the communist regime, but it is impossible to find out any more detail on this.  The Romanian museums are more than happy to talk about their history, as long as it is ancient history… There is very little mentioned on the communist era, or even the Ottoman/Hungarian occupations.  Apparently they didn’t happen!  Still, it is a nice walk through a small forest in the city.

Coming back we again passed the monastery of St John.  Again there were masses of people outside, but this time the police had set up barricades and blocking people from walking around.  We knew something was happening, but had no idea when it would start or what it was.  We hung around until it started raining, and then made our way towards the town centre.  Again the streets were lined with people and the police were doing crowd control.  This seems fairly major.  As the rain had eased for the time being, we again found a spot to wait.  Gypsies were going around selling balloons for the kids, or had drink stalls set up, and while the atmosphere was not sombre, it had an air of expectation in it.

Musical priest

Musical priest

After a long wait, the people started moving.  Something was happening!  A priest appeared from around the corner.  He was carrying a large plank of wood, and hitting it with a hammer to create a beat.  The crowd surged forward.  This was it, we would now see what is happening.  Before he passed us, he had to stop.  There were two people behind him carrying an Icon, and they had been swamped by people pushing and shoving to get close enough to touch it.  The lucky ones even got to kiss it.  The police tried their best, but it was pointless,  they had to let people past, or be crushed to death!  After a while the procession could continue on.  The priests after the icon were carrying banners or burning incense, and after that there was a large coffin like shape being carried by six priests.  This is the holy relics of St John himself.  Getting out of the church for a look around town.

Duck under the icon for good luck

Duck under the icon for good luck

People were massing towards it as well, throwing flowers at it, trying to touch it, and generally in a religious frenzy when it appeared.  After it passed, we were pushed out of the wake trailing it.  Fairly forcefully at that.  Still, the procession progressed.  Following it down the street, we discovered St John was doing a tour of the churches.  the bells would ring on his arrival and departure of any one church, and people strained to get to him.  At one point there was a line of people passing underneath the coffin.  They all bent down and the priests carried it over their heads.  It was an amazing sight.

We caught up with the procession in a couple of different places, and watched people jostling for position.  They would run ahead, get passed, and run ahead again.  The monks were enjoying the entire thing, and were laughing and chatting with people.  Giving blessings when asked and revelling in the attention.
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The people enjoyed the holiday, and spent the rest of the day relaxing and partying.  It did explain the festival of the last couple of days, and we were happy and lucky to see it.

AA

23 June 2013

Painted Monastery Number 2
Back to Suceava
Walk around town
Monastery, churches and a piano
Looking up where to go next, and where we should have been

A green Trabantje!

A green Trabantje!

We had a fair walk in front of us this morning.  It is almost a k into the town centre then 5km to Humor Monastery.  According to the signs at least.  Going out the road to the monastery we passed another sign stating that the monastery is now 6km away.  Romanian distances can be subjective.
The walk was mainly through town.  By now it was only one street wide, with an occasional dirt road off to different suburbs or villages.  At lest it was not as humid as yesterday, and the walk was not too hot with an occasional cloud in the sky covering the sun.
Humor3Humor4On arriving at the monastery, we were amazed to see an almost carnival atmosphere.  The same tourist stalls that were at Voronet, but with a lot more people.  There were cars strewn everywhere, and the lines painted in the parking lot were only there for the kids to play “don’t step on the lines” rather than to organise how cars are parked.

Going up to the complex, you are greeted by a lone tower sticking up through a small screen of trees.  Off to the side is a new church that we were not allowed to visit, and the living quarters of the Nuns.  Then you come to the painted church itself.  The small entrance way to the complex has a small stall inside where you can get your tickets and buy your blessed trinkets.  The Nun running the place had been absent for a while, and was in the process of opening up again.  Standing there waiting, we watched many people just walking past, but we wanted to do the right thing.

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Humor5Passing through the archway, we got our first glimpse of the church.  It is set up in the same style as Voronet, with a rounded end and cross shape.  The roof is made of wood, and comes out a little, and the exterior decorations are almost gone.  It is in a lot worse condition.  Going around the outside, there were sections where you could make out the outlines of some of the pictures, and around at the entrance the best pictures are preserved.  On the far wall there is nothing.  Everything has deteriorated over time.

Humor7Humor8Going inside, you can see that there is a lot of work going on to preserve the pictures here.  You cannot see anything as the scaffolding is getting in the way.  A small break in the middle gives glimpses of what is above.  The layout is again similar to Voronet, with the first chamber being mainly about saints sacrificing their lives to the Turks.  Many of the paintings are about decapitation of one or two people, but there are scenes where the guy with the sword is trying to chop off as many heads with one blow as possible.  The most we counted was six.  Then there were scenes of people being burnt alive.  Very gruesome, and very detailed.  The next chamber is all about JC.  It is dark and busy in there, but still beautiful.

H42pottowerGoing back out, we did a quick trip up the tower for a look around the region.  Small high narrow stairs built into the walls and plain bare rooms.  On the viewing platform, the wood was a bit unsteady, but it had held for centuries so it would hold me as well.  A few people were being film mad, and we could understand the double price for photos after watching one guy almost push someone down the stairs, as he wanted to film his feet going up.

The Monastery done, we started the long walk back.  Trying to hitch was not as successful as yesterday as most cars passed us by.  One car did stop for us, only to go screeching off again as we got closer.  We think it was due to this that the car pulling out of a driveway in front of us offered us a lift.  He took us all the way into town, and we got out at the main roundabout where he was picking up his wife.  A very nice guy, and we tried to chat during the trip.

H47poststorkBack to the pension to grab our bags then to the Autogara (bus station) where the bus to Suceava was just pulling out.  Luckily for us he stopped, and we were allowed on.  This does not happen often for us, and usually we end up sitting around for hours waiting for the right bus!  It did break down along the way, after turning on the aircon, but it was fairly quickly fixed and we made it to town without any more hiccups.

Having decided on staying at the Hostel near the autogara, as we had no working internet, we dragged our bags up to it.  Anna had seen a very small old sign saying there was a pension further up the road, and went to check it out.  We ended up staying there.  It was a lot cheaper than the hostel, and we have our own room with ensuite.

H40postchurchNow it was time to check out the Suceava town.  Walking down to the main square, you can tell the city is going through a bit of a rough patch.  A lot of the buildings are old and run down.  The shops are closed and the streets need a bit of work as well.
Town square is doing ok though.  It is a nice walking street, with a few shops and cafes.  Kids are going around on their bikes or Rollerblades, and people are sitting out enjoying the sun.  We wandered around, through a few churches, and stumbled upon the Church of St. George in the Monastery of St John.  This is the last painted monastery we had planned to see.

H45postpanoGoing up to it, again there were all the stalls set up, and it was as busy as Humor.  Going inside however, we were not prepared for the amount of people.  It is a special day today, and there were hundreds of people here.  A cue wound around the central courtyard of people holding branches and flowers, waiting to be blessed by a monk in a small gazebo.  More stalls were set up around the walls and walkways, and people were picnicking or just sleeping on the grass.

H41postpaintsuceavaThe exterior here is even worse than Humor and almost nothing still exists, going in, there were a lot of people inside as well, but considering how many were outside, you could call it empty.  This is again very dark, but there was no scaffolding so you could see the pictures.  Same layout with people being massacred, the pictures of benevolence.  You could see past the screen in front of the alter here to see the back room though.  Honestly, its not that impressive, with more in common with a broom closet.  The Alter was there with its chalices, and the monks were accepting offerings at the entrance.

Back out, we passed the police giving out free water, and past the lines of beggars to discover more of the city.
nun1Stopping off into a few more churches before making our way back to the main square where tonight’s entertainment was just starting.  The square was a lot busier now, and the central stage had a spotless white piano.  The guy playing it was pretty good, so we listened to it for a bit.
Back at the pension, we are now trying to work out where to go next,but it is fairly hard to find information on what to see.  It seems we could be heading back towards Brasov.  We found out much to our annoyance that a few kilometres from Humor Monastery there is another old salt mine that is hand carved, without use of any machinery, but it is hard to get to without your own car, so we are skipping it, as we don’t want to backtrack. Gurrr.

AA

22 June 2013

Voronet Monastery
Hitching
Pretty in Pink

A long walk out to Voronet Monastery today.  Also know as the Sistine Chapel of the East, as it is regarded as the most beautiful of the painted monasteries. It is about 5km from the centre of town,but we were already a fair way out, so thought it could not be more than four.
V46postfieldsWalking along the main road, we kept an eye out for a bus, but nothing came our way.
On reaching the turn off, we saw a sign saying that there was still 4km to go.  Passing fields full of hay bales, not the modern square nor round ones, but the old fashioned ones built up around a pole to hold it in place.  A perfect rural scene, except for all the power lines stretching across the horizon.  Past a small river and into Voronet town itself.

V41postvoronetThere are Cazares (rooms for rent) aplenty here, every second house seems to be one, and it is the place we had originally planned on staying.  We had been walking for a fair while now, and still hadn’t been passed by a bus yet, so we don’t know how we would have gotten here.  Finding another sign, we discovered it was still at least 2km to go.  Distances seem to be very flexible out here.  So we continued on.  The sun was out today and the steam from last nights rain made it very humid.  Not a pleasant walk, yet we made it. Although a bit sweaty..

V40postfeatureOn approach to the Monastery we ran into a gauntlet of tourist stalls.  Having not seen anything similar since Egypt, it was quite refreshing.  The attitude here was good too.  There was no coming up to harass you, or to push you into buying anything.  you could browse in peace if you wanted to.  There were all sorts of things on sale, mostly traditional clothing, with plastic toys for the kids.  Then souvenirs ranging from little cups to larger icons, and a lot of woodwork from spoons to walking sticks.

Voronet inside2Past all of this you come to the Monastery itself.  It is not anything like the Neamt Monastery, and more just a church with a few Nuns around.  A long building with a rounded clover shaped end.  Sheet metal roof supported by wood overhanging the walls by a few feet and paint splashed over the plaster work. Buying our tickets we headed in.  The first side you see is the clover end.  The paintings here get worse the lower down you go, but the ones near the top are still in pretty good condition.  As you move around to the south wall, the Voronet blue becomes apparent.  The Monastery is famous for it. V42postblue It is in excellent condition and still vivid in colour.  We have no information on the place, so all we can do is look at the pretty pictures, and this wall looks to be a collection of saints.  Knowing vaguely that there is supposed to be the genealogy of Jesus somewhere along the walls, we assume this is it.V43postpaint
Moving around to the entrance there is an amazing scene that seems to be depicting the connection between heaven and purgatory.  A long stream of red welling up from the bottom, getting narrower at the top.  Brilliant details, but we have no idea on what the elephants represent!
Voronet inside5Voronet inside6Going inside, you can see that the pictures here are a lot better preserved.  To start with it is pretty macabre. The pictures are all of people being slaughtered and tortured.  We assume this is what the saints had to put up with during all the wars between the Ottomans and the rest of Europe or Russia.  One particularly memorable detail was a person having their head sawn in half by two people.  They must not have had much contact with the Spanish, otherwise they would have known they could prolong the agony by flipping the person over!
Voronet inside7Further inside the tone calms down a lot, and the paintings are all depictions from the bible, or saints that are important to the monastery.  Stark contrast to the entrance way.  The dome is a traditional orthodox dome, and difficult to explain, but I do love the look of them.  Every inch is painted or carved and definitely worthy of the UNESCO listing.

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V44postpaint2We must have spent less than an hour here, after walking for at least three! Now it was time to head back.  We could hear the thunder and the clouds were building up.  Hoping the heavens wouldn’t open up, we headed off back the way we had come.  It did start raining, and as we were so hot anyway we stopped off at a small shop to pick up a drink and wait it out.  Not too long as it turns out.  After this we decided to hitch as we thought we would be soaked if we didn’t.  This turned out to be fairly successful, and we got a car with a couple of guys to stop for us.  With only a few twinges of hesitation (thank you Tanzania) we jumped in.

V47postchurchThey were pretty nice guys, and instead of dropping us off at the pension, drove us into town and took us to the local fresh produce market.  Explaining how all the local farmers sold their wares here.  The quality as we had noticed before is much better than in the supermarkets.

V48postchurchinsideMaking our way back we stopped into the church in town.  Although it is not painted on the outside, it is still an amazing building.  Going inside it is stunning.  All pink and pastels.  It is not dark and dingy at all, but airy and open contrasting strongly with what we had seen this morning or in most Orthodox churches.  Soft chanting coming from hidden speakers giving a mystic feel to the place.  While it is still over the top, it is done in a very good way, and possibly one of the best churches we had been in, even if it is not as traditional as others.V45postchurchinside2

Back at the pension, the rain started in earnest, and our only problem was that the promised internet still was not working.  Oh well, crappy TV it is for now!

AA