Saturday, November 28, 2009

Medieval Maramureş

I've always enjoyed the stories set in medieval times, and wondered about the life in those times. When I read about this land in northern Romania that had still retain much of its medieval past, I decided to make the trip there to see for myself.

Set between Ukraine to the north and mountain ranges separating Transylvania to the south, Maramureş have remained largely untouched by rapid modernisation. Here, horse-drawn carts outnumber cars, and the houses in the villages are still fronted by traditional wooden gates as they did hundreds of years ago. The fields are still worked on, as are the plum and apple trees in every household, distilling their own ţuică (fruit brandy) for the family (and guests of course). Indeed, Romanians themselves equate Maramureş to rural Romania.

While the rolling hills and pretty pasture lands do draw visitors, it is the heart-felt hospitality of the people in Maramureş that will surely leave the deepest memory for travellers. The highlight of my visit is indeed the home stays I had in the villages, savouring the home-made meals and enjoying their traditional music. There are not many places in the world where I could say that the dishes before me are completely home grown and produced, from the cabbages to the cheeses, and from the hams, right down to their intoxicating ţuică.

Not only have I seen medieval Romania, I have experienced it.

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