Thursday, 3 September 2009

Who's afraid of the big bad wolf?

Only the bloody head remained on the stripped carcass of "Max". He was the dog belonging to the farming family who hosted us on our first night trekking in the Western Carpathian Mountains in Romania. Max was cleverly lured away from the farm late at night by a pack of wolves.

"He was a young dog, not used to wolves. Our other dog was much more careful," said Dorica, the matriarch of the family.

Life in the Apuseni National Parc is a step back in time. The mountainous region is inhabited by the "Moti" people who live in small isolated villages and remote farmhouses, some even without running water or electricity. It's hard to imagine that we're actually in the European Union. Horse lanes are the only connection to the outside world. It's a very traditional life people lead, following the chores of the day: milking cows, tending to their pigs and chooks, cutting hay with a scythe and working in the traditional saw mills. I can't tell you the pride I felt milking a cow for the first time in my life... I've lived in the city for too long.

Trekking an average of six hours a day, sleeping at farmers, feasting on local cuisine and sampling home made spirits - it's a very unique experience. Probably one of the last truly authentic rural societies in Europe. I particularly liked the landscape with the many hay cocks spread out on the rolling hills, the warm welcome of the local farmers and last but certainly not least our great guide Mirca, who knew everything about the region and its people.

Every time friends asked me where I was going on holidays, they were surprised if not baffled about Romania as a tourist destination. I must say it's a very beautiful and truly authentic part of Europe, and I hope to come back for more hiking soon.


Kyle James 3 September 2009 at 05:55  

My goodness, Barbara, that picture! As a dog lover, I'm most distressed. Your trip sounds really unique. Who knew that this corner of Europe existed...although on second thought, when I went to Romania a couple of years ago and drove through the countryside, it was a bit like leaving modernity behind.

Barbara 3 September 2009 at 07:18  

Kyle, I know, I was debating whether this picture was too violent and graphic... I thought though, it's the best proof, that I'm not making up stories about wolves. Any wolves in the Stans?

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