First things first, a linguistics lesson. In Romanian, the ‘ș’ makes the English ‘sh’ sound. Thus, these notable Transylvanian cities are Bra-shov, Sigee-shwara, and See-bee-oo. (Bucharest, for that matter, is pronounced Bucharesht in Romanian). These cities are a huge draw to Romanian tourism and culture. Built by Germans who migrated to central Romania at the invitation of Hungarian kings between 1100 and 1300, these Saxon cities could rival Rothenberg or Heidelbergs’s old quarter. For hundreds of years, the Saxons spoke German and carried on their lives in the strictest of German Lutheran tradition. I’m torn, however.
I could say “Come to Transylvania, because it’s so similar to Germany!” But do we visit or find a connection to a location because it’s similar to something we are already familiar and comfortable with? An article in a travel magazine recently lamented this concept. Lisbon is great because it has Brooklyn-style delis! Do we go to Lisbon to find Brooklyn, or Portugal? Are we traveling to experience the new and different or find comfortable sameness? Fortunately, comfortable familiarity and sameness can be found in these cities, along with a good dose of the new, the different and a strong sense of Romania. Romania. That is, after all, why we’re here.
Decades ago, my grandfather and grandmother traveled the world and took a mind-numbing number of photos and slides. Every photo he showed us, projected on the big screen, was accompanied with a click, click. Unfortunately, there are no such soothing sound effects on my slide show, but if you select a photo below, you can view the images at your own pace and read a few comments descriptions. Mostly, however, the scenes speak for themselves – cobblestones, vibrant hues on restored walls, multi-colored tiled roofs, sidewalk cafes. If you’re comfortable with Germany, you’re ready to explore the Germany of Eastern Europe.