Through my eyes

living my life without regrets

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Sibiu, RO ( Hermannstadt )

Sibiu, RO (Hermannstadt)

This was the center town of the former German villages; the place of culture and art. Here is where the richest people lived, the most merchandise was sold, bought and exchanged. Even today it is strategically located, almost in the center of Romania. Today, it’s a mix of ethnic groups all called Romanians, even though many are of German origin with family names that give away their Germanic heritage. A case in point is today’s President of Romania, Iohannis. Romania has many ethnic groups, and most of them are still a bit clannish and suspicious of others; their cultural idiosyncrasies almost reminding me of tribal behaviors. Everyone thinks their point of view is the right view. In years past, Romania was ruled by dictatorship, but since the Velvet Revolution, great strides have been made in bringing the whole country in line with European thinking. While Bucharest is the capital and political heart, Sibiu is just across the mountains and to my eyes, seems to be the pulse of the country. 

Before we arrived in Sibiu, we were told by the proprietor of the Pension am Schneiderturm to make a detour and ride past the very small town of Cris (Kreisch). It was so small it was not even on the map. This detour led us to a town that time forgot. Up on a hill was a stone church with a low walls around it but the access was so steep, we did not ride up to it. And walking up the gravel road in riding boots, on a hot day in ATGATT (all the gear all the time) was just out of the question. But it did give me a feeling how it must have been back then, living the Siebenbürger life. The place was small, just 2 streets and only the main street was paved. It was a treat to see this place but it is more of a drive by, than anything else. There was no store, no gas station, nothing that would make you stop and ask. The ride up to Cris was as rural as it could be. The town is a bit hard to find, since it is literally not on the map.Since our way from Sighisoara to Sibiu is not far and we needed to kill time, we took this detour; Cris was a good detour. 

We also stopped in Biertan (Birthälm) just to see the famous fortified Church. This town existed even before the majority of Protestants came to Romania. It used to be a Catholic Church but was then altered from 1490-1524 for Protestant services. Even today, once a month, there is a German Lutheran service here in this church.
Biertan ( Birthälm )
We needed to park our bikes in the market square and as soon as we were parked, a security guy in uniform came and we had to pay for parking. I did not mind, it set my mind at ease that our bikes were being watched. The walk up to the church was steep but at least we had a cobblestone walkway. There was not much to see or do in Biertan, we just walked up to the church tower and received a panoramic view of a town that could have been anyplace in Germany. Only about 2000 people live here now, as most Germans left after WW2. Biertan however, welcomes those old Germans who feel nostalgic and come for a reunion once a year. The crowds have dwindled in the last decade since most of the old people have died off. The young folks do not have an affinity for Romania. Yet, I saw a lot of curious German tourists milling about.
We had to dodge a rain storm and ate a lunch at a gas station while it poured outside.
Good Place To Stay 

So, we finally made it to Sibiu, well, not really. We drove through the outskirts a bit, because our hotel was about 10 minutes away from downtown Sibiu. As a tourist, it is very expensive to stay in a hotel in the center. We found a nice, cozy hotel a bit outside by the name of Casa Santa Maria. And since it was already afternoon we decided to just sit and watch the world go-by. We also just made it under a cloudy sky, rain did not really hit us, and we somehow avoided the big down pours.
However, I did drop my bike in the hotel parking lot. The piece of wood I use for under my side stand was slick and bam, my bike was on its side. With a little help from Carol and the owner we just stood her up, no damage done. Stefan Knopf had installed a new side stand, the old one being ‘broken’. Well this new side stand is too short. Stefan swears there are no other side stands available, so I am riding with this crutch of a side stand helper, a piece of 2x4.

We had dinner at a restaurant that the owner of Santa Maria recommended and the food was good. I would have never thought to check into this Restaurant. I would have walked right past it. It looked like an ordinary house from the outside. The place was well attended and we ate outside, in a court yard. Locals just sat, had beer and chatted. We were in Romania, living the Romanian life.

The next morning, a Saturday, we called a taxi and took it to downtown Sibiu. We were dropped off in front of a very large, very fancy Hotel by the taxi driver and from there we walked through a pedestrian only zone to visit old Sibiu. It was touristy. Even though it was October, it was busy with tourists. The Information Center gave us an idea of sites to visit. Churches, bridges, markets you name it, we headed for it. Life was good.
Liar's Bridge
The Liar’s Bridge was the most interesting. It is said that when you tell it a story and then walk over the bridge, it will either squeak, indicating a you told a lie or it will let you pass quietly. Many marriages are ruined this way when she makes him walk across the bridge after he tells her a story. Young couples for sure walk across the span and she listens very carefully when he tells her ‘I love you”.  (Needless to say, I passed.) When we were there a wedding was going on and the bridge was crowded with the wedding party.
Snack Time!

Does That Not Remind You Of A Flea Market ?

High Fashion In Sibiu

Did Not Know What That Was! Romanian Totem Pole ?

Sweets To Die For!
Romas' Garish Colors 
The bridge is near the market square, and a smaller section of this square was occupied by Gypsies or as they like to be called, Romas. Their assortment of things for sale was a bit different from the normal market stuff. It reminded me of what you will find at an American Flea Market. The Gypsies' dress code was different. Their way of life was ancient and their culture was not what I know. I could not have used anything they had for sale, though. It was just too old and obscure to be useful to me. We ate dinner at an outdoor café near the Main Square and then took a taxi back to our Hotel.

A Roma Family
We were lucky it was a delightful day, the sun shone for us and the nights are beginning to get cooler.

Tomorrow we will be heading for the famous Transfagarasan road that will lead us South over the steep, high mountains. It is a riders ‘dream’ road. Some riders come to Romania just to ride this road. Well we need to rest up, sleep well and be ready for some awesome riding tomorrow. 
Inside The Main Church In Sibiu
Items For Sale That I Don't Need

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