24 September 2014

The last two days in Romania.

On Tuesday, I took a break from my work to walk through the cemetery here in Cluj.  It sits a few blocks south of the central square in town, on a hillside. It was beautiful, and sad, naturally.  Most of the gravestones had multiple names engraved, indicating either that multiple people were buried there (stacked, like in the Jewish Cemetery in Prague) or just in memoriam. I snapped a lot of photos of gravestones, in search of the oldest ones.

Here's a site from a relatively recent burial. Note the mounds of pine branches. It smelled like Christmas. I imagine it's a holdover from the days when the stench could be overwhelming.

This plot had five spaces for caskets, but it appears that the deceased are buried two deep. The little engraving in the middle of the edifice indicates which people are buried in which positions.

Dripping black paint? Creepy.

A Greco-Roman temple entrance on an Egyptian pyramid. Just covering your bases, I guess.

This is one of the oldest stones I found.

Later that day, after the cemetery and a bowl of warming soup, E and I headed down to the theatre to see our show open. The performance was good, but not great. Everyone in the company was a little thrown by the audience on Saturday night, and I think that there was more than a little bit of milking going on.  But still, it was a good show, and afterwards, E and I joined some of the company members for some pizza and beer to celebrate. One of the clowns, Catalin, joined us for the dinner. He and I went running together last week along the river in Cluj, and he suggested that we run, or if the rain let up, we go for a bike ride. A bike ride sounded more interesting to me. Cata said we'd ride about 20km (12.5 miles).  Sounded good to me.

When we met this morning, the rain was gone, the roads were dry, and it was a beautiful day. We hopped on some mountain bikes and rode into the Transylvanian mountains. It didn't take us long to get out of town, and once we did, Cata ducked us onto a mountain trail. The trail was not particularly fun - very muddy, and a little treacherous for me (a novice mountain biker). We didn't last long on the trail before he popped us out onto a road where we could ride without mud. We trekked up the mountain road, on pavement, gravel, dirt paths, etc. Up some fairly steep inclines. We rode through deep forest with sun-dappled trails. The last part of the incline was so steep that I fogged up my sunglasses by exhaling. We popped out onto a grassy hillside area, about 1200 meters above town, south, looking over some beautiful mountains. The air was cool and crisp. 

Cata took us around, past the observatory used by the local universities, up some more hillsides, before we got back on a road and began our descent. And what a descent! I was in the highest gear, pumping madly, and still wasn't adding much energy to what gravity was providing. We sped down the road, around corners, in and out of shadow and light. It took us a fraction of the time to get down as it did to get up. 

Here's the map of our return journey. The ride up was a shorter distance (we cut the corner where the distance/time marker is), but I think it was about 30 miles all told. My legs are a wreck.

Now, it's Wednesday evening, and E and I are about to head out for our last meal in Romania. Tomorrow, we get up super-early to catch our flight. I can't wait to go home!

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