Saturday, 9 June 2012

Travel Update VI - Iasi, Romania (9th June, 2012)


Today's update comes from Isai (pronounced 'Yash'), Romania's elegant and refined second-city.  Isai came as a very pleasant surprise to me; I hadn't expected much when the guidebook said that it's joys were only available to "those with the power to see through concrete". Who knows, maybe I am some kind of unusually-gifted superhero, or maybe it's because I've just come from Chisinau Concreteopolis, but I haven't noticed that much of the grey stuff here, and instead I have noticed lots of fine architecture that's of a style unseen elsewhere. At one turn Iasi reminds me of Spain, at the next Bulgaria; Balkan turbo-pop mixes with a language that is more Italian than Ilyrian and a people who look as if they'd be just as much at home on the Iberian. All in all, I really like it. One of the main purposes of this trip was to try and understand Romania a little better and I've got off to a good start, for Iasi has the world's friendliest and most helpful tourist information centre where, after sorting out the usual accommodation and transportation dilemmas, they engage in discussions as to the linguistic heritage of the Romanian people, Balkan influences in the country, the touristic delights of the neighbouring country and a low-down on contemporary Chisinau politics. All that was missing was a discussion on Romanian new wave cinema, (very good by the way, if you've never seen any...), so instead I headed down to the bookshop in the local shopping centre and they provided that as well.

Beyond all else though, what draws one to Iasi is its monasteries. I went on a walking tour today of three of them and all were fantastic in their own way but the Cetatuia Monastery is in a class of its own: tranquil, peaceful, ancient, holy...

But I'm off to Bukovina next where the monasteries are world-famous. I have high hopes indeed.

Keep travelling!

Uncle Travelling Matt

Palace of Culture, Iasi

Cetatuia Monastery

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