Blog 21 Castles, Cathedrals and Cabbage rolls

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Are we well fed, yes. Are we worried about having enough water to make it thru the day. No, not really we are beyond that part of the journey inwhich those dangers lie. Like much of eastern USA, when horse drawn vehichles ruled the day, you end up with towns or villages that as close together as you could travel by horse in one day. Such is the case here where we are in central Romania. We are on a Castle, Cathedral and Cabbage Roll tour. Our biggest concerns these days is not that of water or shelter, but rather how steep will the hills be, and how busy will the roads be.

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When we were up north, within the Carpathian mountain range the churches are almost all Orthodox Christian churches. We toured many of them, and I even stood in for most of a service in one of them. There different because the Priest sings the incantation, a choir then responds, and it is all quite beautiful. There are no Pews, you can stand, or take a kneeling mat. You place yourself randomely, if you need spiritual attention, then put youself close to the Priest. We are now in Evangelical Christiandom, we have left Orthodox Monestaries behind, and we now see Cathedrals. The first thing of note, is the cross style on top of the Church, and seats inside. The evangelical churches will all have a standard crucifix, while the Orthodox will always have the cross of Lorraine, which has 2 cross bars with the lowest bar both shorter and slanted.

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This is the fortified Church region of Romania. So while touring you see what looks like a fortress on a hill top, and sometimes indeed it is just that, a fortress. More often though, you will find a Church at its center. This is the tri-cornered Saxon region. The Saxons lasted till McDonalds put in there first franchise, then they to finally fell. The Tuetons came thru, wiped out many when they came, built castles both large and small. And we have seen them all I think. Pretty sure I have an ash tray from everyone…..and I dont even smoke. We rode thru Rupea, a huge fortification on a very steep sided hill top. Pine and I, both found this place to be of amazing interest, but for different reasons than you may be thinking. Rupea, is the most westerly edge of the invasion by  Mighty Ghengis Khan of Mongolia ( consider thatfora moment, he wouldbe approx 6000 miles from home at this point ) He conquered the fortification, history has it, that his army hspent the winter and moved on. So, what the heck is so amazing bout that JW.  Just stop and think about that whole scenario for a minute. The only evidence we have is that old word of mouth history, and thats not to say that I dispute the claim. Its just that the Mongols may well be the only invading force that never left behind so much as a foot print. Every other empire that invades, leaves behind genetic traces within the indigenece populace. Religious traces, architechtural influence, even changes to local food or dietary traditions. Not the Mongols, at least from what I have seen.

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Sarmale, served with sour cream and usually polenta and sour kraut. My dear Mom always insisted that cabbage rolls were called “Hollopchi’s”….you all probably realize the same thing as I do now. Moms infinite wisdom was robbed from her by Google. Here in Romania, Sarmale or cabbage rolls as they are known locally, are really good and really common. If I had gripe about Hungary, they could sure stand to heat the food up. It comes to the table about as warm as a bleacher seat. You may have guessed, that we have been on a bit of a cabbage roll kick.

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We took in Castle Peles, which highly recommend should any of you be over this way. For me it equals the Palace of Versaille for oppulence, but certainly not for size. The castles is decorated in a thematic regimen, with rooms echoing great cultures and artistic influences from around the globe. The central reception hall is just stunning, with a stained glass cieling hanging some 65 feet above the viewer, and the entire ceiling is mounted on tracks allowing it to be rolled open for sunshine and air movement. Never mind wowing your guests. The central room has some of the most beautifull wood work I have seen within castle construction. And the details go right down to the most minut, mundane items within the room. Thats not to say that this is the only fantastic room, because certainly its not. The rest of the rooms are quite exquisite to be sure. The whole castle is worth a visit, and the drive up is beautiful for sure. From thier we climbed over Receda pass and down into Rasnov. This was a bit of a let down to me, there is a fantastic image of the castle that comes up on Google images……it is stunning……..it may well be the only good view of the castle. Its mostly in ruins today, with just the outer walls standing. And by the way,it is on top of a steep hill. We took our look around, loaded up the bikes and rolled out for Bran Castle to end the day.

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Time for alternative history. Bran Castle, famous for being the castle of Dracula in Irish born writer Bram Stokers novel of the same title. The charcter Dracula was fabricated over or off of the real life person known as Vlad Dracul……or as I knew him thru school history…….Vlad the Impaler. Its this last title that I want to dispute or offer an alternative history on. The story I was told, is that he was so ruthless a tyrant, that he just loved to create agony and aguish within his people. They will respect me out of fear sort of theory, was what I was taught. Here in Romania, he is considered to be one of the good guys, a true warrior, a defender of the people if you will. He was a tactical genius, fearless in battle…….and yes, ruthless in victory. They have a saying here, that every inch of Romania is fertilized with Turkish blood…..thanks to Vlad Dracul. He kept the invading horde from the south at bay. Those captured in battle where impaled alive on wooden stakes to make a point to the enemy……..that Romania is a nation covered in wooden stakes. No, sorry, that was my thinking. The point being, dont mess with Romania. The Bran Castle was Vlad,s residence for about 3 days according to history. Most of his time was spent within the walls of yet another castle that lays much further south and west of Bran…….but then again, why ruin a good story with fact.

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This will be the 3rd night that we got very soaked with rain showers along the mountain edge where we are currently riding. Several weeks ago, I took an afternoon and washed my tent well,soaked it in salt&lemon concoction to kill the mildew and that odor. It did stop that bout. But it has been wet and rolled up and getting pretty ripe all over again. We do our best to stop when we have bright sunshine during the day, we lay out our gear to dry and air out.we traveled some very pretty backroads avter leaving Bran, and made our way over to Sibiu which willbe ourmost westerly destination while in Romania.

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We have cycled thru yet another piece of what God has created, mountains with snow capped peaks, valleys lush and green. And people, who have been given the ability to love thier brother as tnemselves and to do good unto others. Some days we witnessed it, and at other points during this ride…..we longed for it. Each day we Pray for safe roads, the strength to make the trip, a chance to mention our saviour Christ in conversation, we would ask that you do the same.

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About Jeremiah Watt-saddlemaker

Jeremiah is a saddle maker, a silversmith. He runs a small company manufacturing bits and spurs as well as the manufacture of saddle hardware. An avid cyclist, especially the loaded solo tour type cycling.
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7 Responses to Blog 21 Castles, Cathedrals and Cabbage rolls

  1. Bill says:

    well after seeing the both of ya in pics I don ” t know which one looks the best or worst .its no wonder ya have dragged pine all the way across asia and ya cant find a girl freind for him. hope he wins his bet when he gets home or das he have to keep lookin like that a while long . hope ya make it home safe and your mom rec egnizses ya . jim ya gona have to find a shave shop before charlie shows up . hope ya continue ta have a good trip. nice talkin to ya this morningt) ds

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  2. Bill says:

    Good Morning Jim and Pine: Wow, the countryside in Romania is breathtaking for sure. Just can’t imagine biking all those hills. You two are going to come back to America super fit for sure. Glad you are keeping well and hope you get those tents aired out -I seem to remember a pretty ugly, smelly sleeping bag back in the late 70’s & early 80’s JIm. Pine must be leaving for home soon. Safe journey home Pine, and Jim, safe travels ahead. I am sure you are going to miss your interpretur/traveling bud. I can’t imagine doing this trip alone. I know, here at home, we are a little less fearful with the two of you traveling together. Feels kind of scarry, thinking of you alone there so far from us all. I’d send Bill to keep you company but I am sure he would hold you up in every site of interest (he’d have to read every last word on every exhibit in every museum or place of interest) and then he’d ditch the bike and look for a cab as soon as the biking got challenging. (He has really mellowed since reaching 65). I know he would love all the history and the nature around him but I think he would do much better on a tour bus. All is well in at home. Finally got all the hay in and now working on winter wood. Got a few more jobs that should be done before the snow flies so we will have to crack the whip around here. The lush green of summer is waining away to a yellow green. Summer was so short because of the late spring and now already, I can feel fall creeping in with the foggy August mornings. This is our fall fair weekend which always marks the approach of the autumn season.

    We are happy that Dusty is going back to school at the end of October to finish up his apprenticeship finally, I am glad his boss has been pushing him to get this done and seems to have had a more positive influence than Bill and I. Erin is away this weekend at a cutting show and planning her winter trip to Fort Worth in December. She has been trying to convince Bill and I to go this year but we haven’t committed. I am thinking that Bill should go and I should hold the fort down here as Dusty is not home until December 19. It is too hard for everyone to be away at the same time in the winter and Bill will enjoy watching the cutting more than I.

    Well enough chatter for now. Better sign off and go and pic cucumbers and beans. Hope all continues to be well. Want you to know that we are really enjoying your blogs. The pictures are fantastic as are the stories that accompany them. Take care and stay safe. Love you both

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  3. Hindrik van Dijken says:

    Dear Jeremiah and Pino, wonderfull to read all you two in counter on your trip.
    Some of the places you write about , I have visited true the years I have come to Romania, but always on 4 wheels. The enormous contrast that can be seen there is quit drastic. Gods continuous blessings and joy on you both. This Sunday my wife and I are leaving for a 2 week kayak trip to Sweeden , not as adventures as your trip, but we are looking forward to it. I picked up a used $ 50.00 tent at REI, so I hope it will provide the shelter we need. Lots of suxcess with your tent and continuous travel.
    One final thought: the world might shake, kings and kingdom will all fade away, but there is something about that name……on Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand….
    Hindrik and Manon

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  4. Braidie Butters says:

    I have really enjoyed your blog but especially the trip thru Romania. My Dan is from Brasov and we went to visit last November/December. I would love to see the country in the nice weather. We were limited on our travels because of the weather. Looks like your there at a beautiful time.
    Keep on ignoring those gypsies….I witnessed one dragging himself down the isle of the train begging but as the train began to move he was healed miraculously and took his money and ran!
    Travel safe my friend!

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  5. Sam X says:

    Beautiful views. Thanks for the information on your travels. Take care, stay healthy and well.

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  6. Candy Diaz says:

    I love all your posts. The amazing journey continues, thank you God for keeping these men safe. Cannot wait for another post, God be with you. Candy

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  7. Colleen Watt says:

    Good Morning Dear–Off for my run with the dogs before heading to Paso Robles. What a great blog and you sound very upbeat!! WOW the wood in these castles!! Love your final comment and I do pray I get to tell someone about Jesus Christ today! Well dogs are waiting. Love yah and talk to you soon!

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