Day 8 – Viscri

This morning we’ll wake up early (really early!), we’ll take a horse-drawn carriage to visit a Romanian sheepfold, witnessing the milking and having a pastoral breakfast. You’ll learn how various types of cheese are made and you’ll see how shepherds are living their lives and how they work for the well-being of their community.

We want to see how the sheep are milked, how the cheese is made, how the sheepfold is organized – basically, we will see what’s behind the concept of “cheese”.

However, there is a “science” to this process. Milking the sheep has to take place at specific times of the day; it cannot be done randomly. Specifically, it is done around 7am. Since we can reach the sheepfold only by carriage (it’s up on the hill, where cars cannot reach) and this trip takes about an hour, we need to wake up at 5am, take a short and quick breakfast (mainly consisting on lots of coffee 🙂 ) and get ready to leave by 6am.

The carriage is awaiting for us.

2015-10-08_105639

*

The trip is awesome. You can’t believe how the hills and the sky can look like in the light of the daybreak, how they smell, how they sound… The grass, the birds, the insects… It’s uplifting…

*

At the sheepfold, everybody is active already.

*

The sheep and the cows are being milked…

*

… then we’ll enjoy a really nourishing breakfast (milk, cheese, polenta – and moonshine, for those who would have a sip of it)…

*

… then the dogs are fed…

*

By the way, speaking about the dogs… These are safeguard dogs, ready to fight the wolf or the bear, protecting the sheep. Although they look friendly (and they probably are), we’ve been advised to not approach them, to not make sudden moves or shout unexpectedly.

*

The shepherd said something like “you can’t tell what’s in a dog’s mind…” However, he said “as long as they see you with us [i.e., the shepherds], they won’t mind you”. It turns out that – when the dogs know you are a ‘friend’ – they are actually shy…

*

Then, after everybody had their breakfast, the flock “hits the road” – or, rather, ‘the hill’… 🙂  The shepherds are taking it to those parts of the hill where the grass is better and more nutritious.

*

It’s now mid-morning and it’s also time for us to come back to the village. The trip is, again, simply beautiful. How many times have you traveled the hills on a carriage pulled by two big horses?

2015-10-09_160945

*

As we arrive back “home”, since you woke up that early in the morning, you might want to take a short rest, a ‘siesta’ – stretch a bit on the bed, or sit on the backyard…
Very close-by there is a bread-oven. That’s something that to see – it’s not something that one watches every day :). However, the bread-making process is rather long and intricate. The dough is made using a traditional formula: without yeast, without any chemicals, only with natural and organic ingredients – just as people did that hundreds of years ago! Then, the baking takes about 4 hours. There are 2 ovens that run all day long. There is no need for us to be there for the entire process. However, you may want to see how the dough is kneaded, the moment when the dough is put into the oven and when the bread is taken out of the oven. Somebody will announce us when those moments are coming, so that we could walk there for a few minutes.

*

After lunch you’ll visit the Fortified Church, for which the village is famous.

Built on the highest place in the village, a small hill, the church appears to the eye as a village guardian angel. The white wall surrounding the whole makes you feel small and insignificant. The message is clear: “I’ve been here for hundreds of years, I’ve seen good and bad, people came here in times of peace but also in times of war.”

Initially, here it was only a chapel. The first inhabitants of the settlement began the construction of the chapel around 1100 A.D., a fact confirmed by tombstone inscriptions in the cemetery that surrounds the church.

The chapel was later transformed into a church, in the 12th century, by Szekely (Szeklers, Hungarian ethnics) colonists and taken over by Saxons colonists in 1185. To resist the attacks, they also built fortifications around the chapel, made of river and field stone. They were about 7 meters tall (about 20 feet) and portions of those walls are still visible today (on the South and East sides).

The church was fortified more heavily around the year 1500: the walls were doubled, two towers and two bastions were added and the parapets were secured.

Since 1993, the Church is part of the UNESCO World Heritage.
Now, inside the church there is a museum. There are woven and embroidered textiles, pottery and handmade agricultural tools, as well as traditional clothing and furniture. From the fortification’s towers you can admire the village scenery, with its hills and meadows, and its authentic hand-tiled roofs of the houses and barns.

 

*

As the evening falls and everything settles down, that feeling of peace and tranquility arises again, all by itself. I cannot help but – all of a sudden – feel connected with nature, with the village, with the people, with the hills and everything else. It’s a feeling of expansiveness and of serenity.

.

.

Tomorrow we’ll be heading towards another interesting location, the only medieval citadel in Eastern Europe which is still inhabited and functional…

Advertisements