The first thing we did when he woke up was to check the weather. Luckily, though it was cloudy, we see the prospect for improvement. However, the temperature was low. We prepared our things and before we departed we drank coffee. The engine of our motorcycles, even though we had put them in an enclosed space started with difficulty.
We finally departed at 9.30am. The route (17C) continued to be impressive, rising from an area with thick vegetation consisting of tall and dense trees. Along the narrow road, in poor quality, the river was holding us company. There were few times when we stopped for photos. In the route we found villages without tourist development.
Continuing the journey the road became uphill and eventually we climbed at 820m, where was the passage pasul Setref. There we met some enduro (probably French) who prepared to leave for a trip. In the point of crossing, there is a pension (pensiunea), which was undergoing reconstruction ... From there we entered Maramures.
In the village Sacel we turned right towards the Moisei (10km) and Borsa (17km). The Moisei is known because of the execution of 31 people (2 survived!) by Hungarian soldiers during the war in 1944. There is a monument we didn’t manage to find it. The Borsa has something special. So we continued along the mountain path (18) to Suceava.
Our goal was to reach the mountain pass pasul Prislop (1450 m high) .The cold is indescribable and in combination with the wind blowing, we couldn’t take our helmet off or even our gloves when we stopped for photos, despite the prevailing sunshine.
After 30km from Borsa we reached the passage. The leaves of the trees were white, from the ice that had sat on them. In the point of crossing is a church and a monument and the restaurant was closed. The view of the surroundings is spectacular...
We took the way back to Borsa - Moisei - Sacel and there we turned right towards the Sighetul Marmatiei (75km). From that point, basically you enter the valley Valea Izei, which were the villages with their wooden churches with their distinctive architecture. First we stopped at the village Salistea de Sus in the Church of Sf. Nikolae. It was the first wooden church and impressed us, like those in the next village Dragomiresti.
Different from all was that the one at the village Ieud, which is the oldest church (fare: 2RON) in the area constructed in 1364. It is located on a hilltop in the center of a cemetery. We had to drive 2-3km dirt road. The church over the age of presents another particularity: it is painted inside with frescoes.
A pleasant incident happened during our stay there, 2 children came and asking about ... what else ... the motorcycle and one was most courageous and asked questions of the type, the speed, how much does it cost... always courteous! Eventually he asked me to climb on the motorbike and when he climbed I cannot describe his joy. He thanked us and we left for Barsana (12km).
The monastery was a big surprise for us. Once we arrived we went to the entrance and entered a yard (no ticket). A very neat site with impressive buildings of local architecture, surrounded by colorful landscaped gardens. We wandered a long time and I wish we had more. The space creates a sense of tranquility. It is worth mentioning that is the last chapel built by the head of the Orthodox Church, Serafim Petrovai, before joining the Roman Catholicism. The truth is that it worth a visit...
Approximately 20km west is the city Sighetul Marmatiei. The city doesn’t say much apart from the fact that there was the prison of dissidents in the years of Communism. Nowadays it is a very interesting museum (entry: 6RON). We visited it, but saw it briefly, since wanted to get to Sapanta (20 km) before dark.
At late afternoon we reached the small village Sapanta, located about 4km from the Ukrainian border. It is known mainly for 2 reasons: it has the largest wooden structure (75m.) in Europe and for the cemetery Cimitirul de Vesel. We headed directrly to the cemetery upon arrival, which was impressive causing mixed feelings.
First is a cemetery to visit the fare (price 5RON)!!! Of course this has to do with the fact that it is a landmark... yet it is still a cemetery. Its particularity lies in the fact that every grave has a wooden cross on which is carved an image of a text... mostly like poem. This text refers to the name, age and appropriate way of death. Some text has to do with the life of the deceased. Sometimes this is done in a somewhat humorous way, others more serious. It depends on the deceased. These creations are from the sculptor, painter, poet and possibly... "gossip», Stan Ioan "Patras" and are the work of a lifetime that starts in 1935. The peculiar artist no longer lives (died 1977), while his house has been converted into a museum located about 300 meters from the cemetery. The sculpture graves are almost 800. Visitors must have enough time to wander in this special place...
We decided to spend the night in Pensiune Iliana (double room: 80 RON) just a few meters away from the cemetery. The owner kindly prepared us a meal consisting of homemade soup and stuffed cabbage, really delicious. The evening continued with our conversation and some local wine beside the stove in the kitchen. As our minds began to process the images we had all day, we realized that this region of Romania, was much different than all those we meet. The trip to Maramures is like a time travel in the past... as if time has stood 50 years…