Can’t remember the name of the town but it was at the bottom of Gyimes valley and as it was Sunday when everyone goes to market, so did we (but not in a horse and cart, at least they got some parking unlike the rest of us).
Well this was interesting- an assortment of secondhand shoes and clothing was on offer but what caught my eye was the horse harness and not expensive at all (about £250 a set). Then there were the crotal bells- bought twenty for John the horse as actually I like to hear bells when horses are working. The vegetable market was very colourful and pretty much all locally grown.
I did buy a few things from the market for our next little venture up the hill… first on the list was some cheese wrapped up in spruce bark, then some smoked pig hock and some vegetables. Shopping done, time for a little sightseeing…
Well the old station was looking a bit forlorn especially the number 5B29 and as we had ribbed Richard about his box ticking of flowers (although we all joined in if we thought we had found a new one for him) -‘Trainspotter’ – well we found one for him and chuffed (ha ha) to bits was he! Wasn’t going anywhere though was he? !
Now there is a sad story about this particular place- in the Second World War the Russian army came up the valley and met strong resistance from the Hungarian army. They kept the Russians at bay but the Hungarians knew they would eventually go up another valley and outflank them so they did a tactical retreat but got caught elsewhere (not sure what happened to them). However, after the war the local population went and collected thousands and thousands of bones and skulls from near this point and buried them. Makes you think a bit when you sit on the old castle where all the gun emplacements were.
On a lighter note here are the steps to the castle (which is no longer there). There was a bet made between two men in 1789 about whether or not one of them could climb the steps on horseback. The fella that took the bet and rode a horse up the steps won his bet (and believe you me they are steep and a lot longer than what you can see in the above photo).
Now for our little walk up a hill to stay in a hay barn for the night. Seldom these days do you get the chance to spend the night out like in the old days- a long time since I slept in a hay barn (cough cough).
Needless to say the walk was staggeringly beautiful- never have I walked through so many meadows so full of flowers in my life. I do worry about what will happen to these meadows over time as people only own parcels here and there. One good thing however, (wow the EU has actually done some good!) the landowners do get a subsidy but quite frankly it’s a miniscule amount compared to Western European farmers. It’s enough to keep the older generation still interested but the younger generation is still leaving for the brighter lights.
Is that a bear behind you I see? No it’s a bare bear ;-). Seriously tho’ we found the hind footprint of a brown bear. Most other European countries have exterminated the wild bear (including Germany which incidentally had one cross the Italian border some years ago and found its way into Germany and promptly got shot; weird how some countries behave, save Cecil the lion and all that!) .Why are there so many brown bears in Romania? Because Ceausescu banned people from hunting them so that he could hunt them himself! They were for the elite to hunt. Oddly it was this that saved the bear and actually, when one thinks about the king’s hunting forests in old England, the same happened- species that may have become extinct did not because the elite favoured and protected them. Not that I would ever want to shoot a bear (unless it’s with a camera) but if it means the bears survive in Romania … and handled carefully we will hopefully never see the European bear become extinct. And… remember the shepherds- they lose a lot of sheep to bears, even living the extreme life style they live, they would quite happily see the bears gone but the EU helps reimburse the shepherds’ loss. That’s another good EU policy.
A view to die for. Draughty as it was (and a bit spiky) the views were outstanding; however the cooker needed a bit of work, in fact about thirty minutes of firewood scavenging around an old lightning struck spruce – ideal (but the walk wasn’t).
Supper was… well you don’t get many like this under the starlight with a silent night and shooting stars. What made it probably one of the best nights was the company. Try to plan something like this and it flops, just go and do it regardless and you usually have one of those magical evenings. Nothing fancy- a bit of cheese, a hock, some palinka and herb tea. Magic.
Next morning we were still there (no bears- more’s the pity) and what a lovely sunrise- a good start to the day, an hour soaking up nature ( very good and powerful medicine). Before we left for the valley Richard had to mow his 5×5 plot, was he going to be faster? Nope, he still fell over totally knackered… but the grin on his face said everything.
Tea in the morning was St John’s wort, marjoram and spruce needles ( very refreshing actually).
Time to go back down the hill but still walking through heaven especially when you see so many butterflies, grasshoppers and crickets. Best of all was the swallowtail butterfly- stunning.
I see can’t believe how many flower species there were- the reason? It’s all to do with getting milk from a cow in order to survive. Land tenure can be seen most graphically when one looks at the photo above. It’s in strips that go from the valley floor to the mountain top. I do wonder how long this’ll last!