Category Archives: Discover Bucovina

A day doing what we do

Many of my friends ask me what I do exactly, how I create or manage a trip for our guests. Do I stay at the office, do I accompany them on tours, do I check the places personally? The answer to the first two questions depends on many things, but the last one is always yes.

So I start giving them examples. As I’m about to give you.

I’ve just returned from Bukovina, and my memories are still fresh, so this should be easy. It was the second time I’ve been there in the last 6 months, so this was no regular research trip. It was about setting all the details for an out-of-the-ordinary tour we’ll have in May, with requests so special we have to discuss everything in person with our partners in the region, and then do it again in a couple of months. You wonder what could be so special? Well, everything that involves the airport arrival procedures, ground transportation, lunches, monastery visits… It all needs to go smoothly, like a Swiss clock. So, after my colleague Raluca already met everyone, I went there to meet them as well, from the airport manager to the restaurant chef. And we’ll go again just before the tour starts.

As you may know, our main office is in Timisoara, the Western part of Romania, so from here to Bukovina there’s quite a drive, almost 10 hours.  So I flew to Bucharest, made a stop at my favourite restaurant, took the company car and drove the rest of the way to Suceava, for about 6 hours. But you just can’t do this job if driving is not your thing, and I must confess – I love it! I could drive for days, I just need my map and my music.

Of course it wasn’t all work and no fun, as it never is. What I enjoyed most was the food and the people (as it’s always the case), even if now, after I got back home, I need to go on a diet to fit in my skinny jeans again. And the people? The people in Bukovina are so hospitable and accommodating, I would have liked to get adopted by the restaurant owner and ask the bus driver to be my next best friend.

I’m not going to tell you about the famous painted monasteries there, all on the UNESCO World Heritage list (I wrote a more thorough report here, last summer). I visited some of them again, just because I wanted to see how the sky above them looks in winter, how it changes the colours of the frescoes. And it was worth it, my Instagram photos were a success.

Joke aside, Bukovina is a place that always manages to surprise me, and I would go back there over and over, be it summer or winter or spring. For you, I would recommend summer, though…

This is just a glimpse into my work life, although it’s not so much work when you love what you do. If you’d like to know more, hit the Comment button at the bottom of the page, I’d be more than happy to share.

Surprisingly, Bucovina

Bucovina is probably the most beautiful unknown region of Romania. Unknown to me at least, until recently.

I had my excuses, for many years: it’s too far, the roads are not very good, it’s most likely overrated. Not even the 7 painted monasteries included on the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list, nor the Pomme d’Or international prize given by The International Federation of Travel Writers and Tourism Journalists could compel me. I couldn’t have been more wrong!

Bucovina has a very rich history, and it still keeps edifices dating from the first Moldavian voivodes. The most emblematic figure is Stephen the Great, who built 44 churches in the area, each one after a victory in battle. He was granted the Athleta Christi (Champion of Christ) title by Pope Sixtus IV, as a defender of Christianity.

The painted monasteries are among the most unique and picturesque places in Romania. The exterior walls are decorated with elaborated frescoes, dating from the 15th and 16th centuries. The murals represent complete cycles of religious scenes, which had two purposes: to promote Orthodoxy and to educate the illiterate. Most of the painters are unknown, but the legacies they left behind are deemed masterpieces of Byzantine art.

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Sucevita Monastery

The most famous is Voronet Monastery, considered to be “the Sistine Chapel of the East”. Besides its interior and exterior stunning wall paintings, what makes this church so special is the intense shade of blue used here. Known throughout the world as “Voronet blue”, the composition of this colour remains a mystery even now, more than five centuries after it was built, as the painters worked in isolation, guarding their trade secrets.

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Voronet Monastery

Bucovina rivals Transylvania when it comes to natural beauty and rich folklore. The rolling hills and the painted monasteries blend together perfectly, in an impressive scenery. One of the most spectacular road passes in Romania is Bicaz Gorges, and not far there is the Cheahlau Mountain, Romania’s Mount Olympus. It was the sacred mountain of the Dacians, the forefathers of the Romanian people, where Zamolxes, their supreme god, had his temple.

Bicaz Gorges Source: Wikipedia
Bicaz Gorges
Source: Wikipedia

A tour in this region can’t be complete without some wine tastings. For centuries, Moldova (the region Bucovina is part of) has been renowned for its vineyards and fine wines. One third of the wine growing surface of Romania is to be found here, with a large number of native Romanian varieties. One of the most famous wineries is the Cotnari Vineyards, established in1448. They are famous for their delicious sweet white wines made of grapes rich in sugar and harvested in late autumn, following the first frost.

Visiting Bucovina is like a step back in time, coming face to face with traditions long-gone in other parts of the world, secret villages, traditional rural cuisine, welcoming people and pristine nature.

And that’s all I could gather for you in just a few days, but I’d go back to Bucovina in a heartbeat to discover more of its beauties.