Up the hill to more Mud Volcanoes
Monastery & Statues
Pool & Palinka
Although we have hundreds of photos for today, I won’t spend too long typing. We wanted to go out to Vulcanii Noroiosi. This is why we had based ourselves in Berca.
Last night we had found out there was a cheaper pension over the bridge, called the old mill, and we went to check that out first. Turns out it was cheaper, but not by much, but we still organised to stay there tonight. The room looks better than the small long attic room we had last night.
Talking to the people there, we got more information as well. They even rang the bus company for us to see when the buses were. We had been told at the other pension that there were no buses, but here they said it was not a problem, and one would be leaving in about 10 minutes. We made our way to the corner where the bus would stop to pick us up. While waiting we ran into one of the guys we had been talking to last night. He wanted to make sure we were ok. Unfortunately he was working and could not drive us out there. This shows Romanian Hospitality that he was apologetic he could not drive us kilometres out of his way! While we were talking the bus pulled up, so he made sure the driver knew exactly what we wanted!
The bus took us all the way there, right to the doorstep of “Muddyland” On getting out, we found that this is not the mud volcanoes, but a resort in process. There is a place for camping, and a small shop, but everything else is under construction. The Mud Volcanoes are a short hike up over the hill.
On cresting the hill we were greeted with a fence line and driveway. We were a little worried about this, but it turned out to just be the parking from a different road up. There is a small caravan at the end of the fence line and a guy selling tickets. On getting ours, we were welcomed in.
From there on it is a make your own way. The rules were no sticking your hands in the mud, as it is slightly toxic, and no smoking as you could set the gas on fire. No problems with either of those!
Walking up you see green grass on the hills everywhere, then a bare patch presents itself. The mud has built up a small plateau, with a few cones on top and others scattered around. The mud is only glooping out, and not coming in massive spurts, so it is easy to get close to them. We had no idea on what to expect, but had not set our hopes too high to avoid disappointment. This was a very good idea, as we were blown away. There was a large flow of mud down one side, and a couple of major cones. A few tourists were wandering around, but not that many. One person was acting as security, but not too worried as we wandered around finding different pools of mud. Some were bubbling away quite nicely while others were just doing the occasional gloop.
The battery of the camera went flat, and we had to go back to the entrance to change it over. While we were there, we struck up a conversation with the person selling tickets. He had worked all over the place from Cypress to here! We also learnt that there was another area nearby that had small fissures as well, and we should go see it after this. That the mud comes out of the ground at a constant 5 degrees, so even in winter the area is clear of snow, and apparently quite spectacular with a white background. We found out a few days later that there really is not that much gas coming out, but mainly rainwater. The rainwater drains down through the soil, liquefies the mud, then small pockets of gas force it to the surface. While we were here, we did not smell much sulphur, just the occasional whiff.
As we went to explore the greater area in search of less trodden mud, all the other people left. The guard had seen how we were, and decided that he was better off in the shade of the caravan, so we had the place to ourselves. It was great being able to wander around and see all the different places that it was coming up out of the ground. Eventually we had had enough, and wandered back down the hill. The other place is about 2.5km away, so we started walking. It was mostly uphill (of course!) and quite warm. We even got a touch of sunburn! This is so unusual for the last few weeks that it was great!
At the top of this hill is an up market pension, however the ticket price was the same as before, so not outrageous. This one is a lot more compact, with several cones clustered together at the top of a hill. These were a lot larger than the others, and although the principle was the same, very different, and it was good to see both.
Now we had the long walk home. Hoping that we could catch a bus from the bottom of the hill we set out. Thinking it would not hurt to stick out our thumbs to passing vehicles, we were surprised when the first one stopped! It was a young Romanian couple that live in Italy and back home on holidays.
This was very good fortune for us, as they refused to drop us in Berca! They were planning on visiting a monastery and museum in the region and wanted us to go with them. Not being sure exactly where it was we stopped for directions a few times, but made it to the Monastery. The road there was quite a climb as it was right up in the hills by itself. Mostly through forest, yet there was a field right before we got there. This was full of stone sculptures.
Wandering around the bulky carved stones we scared a poor lizard, tracking it, we eventually got it to stop so we could get a good look, it was bright green, and very pretty. Being the only wildlife we got to see all day it was special and deserves a good mention here.
At the monastery, we were able to have a drink from the spring water there. By now this was much needed, and very refreshing. Then we headed into the church. A standard orthodox church, but considered unique, as it is the oldest in the region. The Nun got a little annoyed at us as we took some photos, but not too much.
Laura and B, (I apologise for forgetting his name, but we will call him God’s Gift)! then tried to find out about the museum. Asking a man looking after some cows, we found out that the statues were the museum,but the other hill also has them.
Talking to him some more, we discovered that he is the cow herd for the monastery. He looks after the cows, and milks them to make cheese. The monastery also makes wine and Tuica, which is available to buy if we wanted to. He saw my reaction to this, and knew straight away we didn’t want any!
Looking around the other side of the hill we found many more statues/sculptures. In 1970 the sculptures were started, and continued until 1975. It could be later, but that was the last date we saw. Exploring the area we saw a lot of different things, some were very obscure, and others you could make out what it was. The style is what I would consider typical blocky communist styles, which is not surprising given the time period.
We all then decided to go up the hill, as Laura remembered that there was something there from her childhood. This started a long trek up a slippery slope, filled with wet leaves and tree roots. At a few places we wondered if we should continue, but we thought why not. Even if there was nothing up there now.
When we got to the top, it tuned out to be another monastery. We went in and had a quick look around before heading back down the hill. It is supposed to be an old place, but has been recently redone so looks very new all around. God’s Gift was a bit out of breath (we all were!) when a nun came around. He said something about the walk, and she told him to suck it up. She does the walk every day to get water from the monastery at the bottom of the hill to bring up here! (Personally, looking at the rose gardens I don’t believe it, but it was funny!
Back down the hill, they dropped us off in town, and started the third section of today. We were supposed to meet Marion from yesterday today at about 8pm. It was already after 7! We picked up our bags and dragged them over to the old mill, and had a decent look at the room. Well, we started using the room… The shower was interesting. We thought the shower curtain would fall down if you touched it, and the taps were back to front and upside down! It was not that bad though. Now we were at least an hour late, but thought we would still try. Finding out where a pool hall was (as we remembered that is where we were supposed to meet him) we wandered down to try and find him. We found the place, and must have had some strange reactions, as we walked in, looked around, asked for him, but there was no English, and left! Back at the pension, we asked if we could call him. No problem, so we organised to meet and tried again. This worked, and we had a few games of pool, lots of wine, and ended up back at his place drinking home made Tuica. The last was a mistake that we paid for tomorrow, but we had a great time.