By Frank Stempski (San Jose, CA)
Published by the author in the Bukovina Society of the Americas Newsletter,
Vol. 16, No.3, September, 2006
Frumos! This is Romanian for “beautiful.” It is how my wife Pat and I found Transylvania and Bukovina on our trip to Romania in September 2005.
We were sitting in the Transylvania Restaurant in Los Gatos, California, eating Dracula burgers and Metetei (Romanian meat rolls) when Pat said, “let’s visit the ancestral home of your grandfather, Julius Tischinski.” This was Solca, Bukovina, Romania. Perhaps the following notes and highlights of our trip will be of some use to prospective travelers to this region of the world.
The village of Solca. Beautiful countryside, beautiful endearing inhabitants, with a carefree staunch attitude about the value of the agrarian life style. Solca is on the Solca River. The word Solca means“salt” and the folks are really the “salt of the earth” in the positive sense of the word.
Lodgings. In Suceava we recommend staying at the Leaganul Bed and Breakfast hosted by the delightful Breaban family.Juxtaposed next to the agrarian horse and wagon lifestyle is the creeping mercantilism evidenced by the Metro, which looks like a WalMart or PriceClub, not like Target or K-Mart yet!
Transportation. Watch out for taxi drivers/tour guides who might rob you and leave you in a desolate location. With a little care and judge of character we found both older and experienced taxi drivers as well as young and agile taxi drivers who saved us money with good recommendations for accommodations and helped us negotiate for articles and souvenirs.
Food and Eateries. Having been converted from my early upbringing on rather bland German, Polish and Croatian food to the spicy fare of Bangkok, Saigon, Bombay,Guadalajara, Houston, and New Orleans, I found the Romanian cuisine not that exciting but very interesting. I did indulge in the Polenta (corn meal mush), Metetei (Dracula hamburger rolls), and the scrambled cow brains and eggs on which my grandmother raised us. I stayed away for the most part from the Pakinka. And Jack Daniels was at the top and the highest priced on most restaurants’ beverage menus: about $18.00 US for a shot of Jack Daniels bourbon!
- Almost everyone of all ages (at least over fifteen years) smokes cigarettes like mad.
- There are more churches in Romania than in Poland, and they are building or rebuilding almost 100 churches per month.
- And the most intriguing is the polyglot of nationalities with their mix of traditions and languages.
- The Romanian language derives from Latin, as do Italian, French, Portuguese, and Spanish. Many people we encountered also spoke a good bit of English.