Haranglab Pilgrimage
August 12, 2004

Photos by James Hayes-Bohanan, unless otherwise noted

This page begins with a photo of the inside of the Bucharest airport, only because I subsequently learned that such photos are forbidden. Customs was quite easy -- my impression was that anything we wanted to bring to Romania -- within reason -- was more than welcome! We were greeted by Partner Church travel coordinator John Dale, our drivers Denes and Gyorgy, and our translators Reika and Csilla. The vans would be our home away from home for the next ten days!
Bucharest Airport Airport departure

Although some of us were interested in seeing the notorious landscapes of Bucharest, we made haste to Sinaia, on the edge of Transylvania. Even from the highway, it was easy to see that Romania is a country undergoing very rapid change and the uneven inflow of money.
Pump Our first nervousness came at a gas stop just after we left the airport, where we heard a crashing noise near the vans. It turned out that the fellow shown above had simply forgotten to disconnect the pump, although he did not seem to think he was at fault. We were just relieved that we were not starting our adventure with a fender-bender.
Our first meal and first night were at the Alexandros Hotel in Busteni, nestled against the southern edge of the Carpathians. We had some time to explore, and to notice that Coca Cola had managed to distribute umbrellas to every cafe table in town! Claudiu
Coca Cola
I began to notice that flowers are planted everywhere, and I had to resist the urge to buy flowers for my home garden! John gave us lessons on the use of ATM machines, which are plentiful in the larger towns, and which give good exchange rates. Money changing windows are also available and are a fun way to interact with local people, but U.S. bills are considered easy to counterfeit, and may be rejected for any hint of a problem. Currently, each U.S. dollar is worth 33,000 lei.  Romania is an active candiate for European Union membership, and E.U. flags fly on many buildings, but common currency is several years away.

The many interesting sites in Busteni include this streetside chapel. The vernacular architecture we encountered throughout the journey is rich and varied, and I often found myself simply staring at buildings such as the green house below.
Chapel House

Because Romanian is somewhat like the other romance languages I know, I was able to discern that this small building in a park is actually a real estate agency. Because Busteni is popular for winter sports, it might be that this small office serves short-term rentals. 
Real Estate