December 29, 2017

Transylvania and Quotes about It

What does Transylvania mean to Romania?

“We are in Transylvania, and Transylvania is not England. Our ways are not your ways, and there shall be to you many strange things. Nay, from what you have told me of your experiences already, you know something of what strange things there may be.” Bram Stoker. (Dracula)

There is a lot in these three sentences.  That quote speaks volumes about how people viewed, and possibly still view Transylvania.  It's different from Western Europe, and in this regard, Transylvania and Romania feel different to people who have never been there.  Transylvania means a lot to Romania because of the culture, and the traditions and for may people the religion.  People love the land they live in.

Strange isn't a thing in Transylvania, it is both contemporary and yet, it keeps its Middle Ages charm.  Some of the major cities in Transylvania are equally as ancient as some Western European 

Even some members of the Romanian Royal Family would comment how much they loved their country.  Romania to them was not just a small country it was going to be a Greater Romania, with portions of lands they coveted from other countries.

My love for my country is my religion. Marie of Romania

Marie of Romania seems to be the go to person for many quotes, as she was a person who spoke her mind.  At seventeen she married, and became Crown Princess of Romania, and would go on to be one of the more famous Queens of her era. (Her first cousins, paternally, who would marry and reign as Queen Consorts were: Queen Maud of Norway, Queen Sofia of the Hellenes (Greece), Queen Victoria Eugene of Spain and Empress Alexandra of Russia)  She became a well known writer, and used her influence as a granddaughter of Queen Victoria of England to help gain territory for Romania at the end of the Great War.

She was beloved by the Romanian population because she viewed Romania so highly.  As the quote goes she loved her country a lot.  As for religion it was no doubt that she cared for it, but she was born an Anglican, with a Russian Orthodox mother, and married a Catholic, and would rule a country who was predominately Romanian Orthodox. Therefore, it's not a surprise that her adopted country, Romania, would be viewed with more reverence than her religion, which is possibly an idea that most in her time wouldn't want to think of.

"What comes to your mind when you think of the word Transylvania, if you ponder it at all? What comes to my mind are mountains of savage beauty, ancient castles, werewolves, and witches - a land of magical obscurity. How, in short, am I to believe I will still be in Europe, on entering such a realm? I shall let you know if it's Europe or fairyland, when I get there. First, Snagov - I set out tomorrow.” Elizabeth Kostova (The Historian)

An excellent quote about both Transylvania and Dracula, and part of it is from the novel the historian which gives this commentary from Dracula's point of view.  It's amazing to see mentions of ancient castles and of werewolves, which many people who lived in Transylvania believed in, or knew of the myths of the werewolves.  The fact that mentions were made of it being obscure is also telling.  It's a land where either people know of it, or they don't.

The best bit to this is the Europe or fairyland, and it leaves it to the readers to choose.

December 22, 2017

Transform Your Ideas of Transylvania.

For the record transformation is not a one a year deal.

You have a living, ever changing reader base, and you have to accept that for many a blog is a blog, and it's something that can be alive, or it can be dead.  There's not much of an in between anymore.  When you blog about a place, Transylvania, you are not limiting yourself per say, rather you can transform it by having a passion, a view, or something that makes your readers go 'hmmm.'

The most common idea about Transylvania is Count Dracula.  This being said, it's not the only idea.  What if I was to write that Count Dracula by rights should be a woman and not a man?  You'd probably argue that I am a feminist of some stripe and say Dracula was based off of a man- Vlad Tepes.  In that we are both correct, because Elizabeth Bathory- also known as the Countess of the blood was a strong influence on Dracula- or the later versions thereof.

Another common idea is the culture of Transylvania.  Some will say, and rightly so, that Transylvania has a strong Romanian culture.  They are not wrong, but there are other cultures and peoples who lived in or live in Transylvania who identify with Transylvania not as Romanian, but rather whichever and whomever they were part of, their group, culture or faith.

Transformation is not about changing your mind completely, rather it's the process of thinking outside the box.

When you write about Transylvania thinking outside the box isn't always a good thing, after all, there is history, facts, emotions, people and many other facets of life to consider.  This isn't changing your mind completely, it's transforming what you know, and seeing another side to the world.

Can transforming a blog be a part of that too?  

I'm blessed with countless visitors, and people who stop by to comment.  I'm blessed with learning more each day about Romania, Hungary, Austria and many part of Europe that have ties to Transylvania.  I'm pleased to learn new things.  About the Romanian Royal Family, about what they are doing in Romania and Transylvania in particular.

This blog is growing, and now, it's showing signs of more growth, and this is where it's not a one year deal, it's knowing that each and every post will mean something to the idea, the people and the history of Transylvania.  Each reader can and should matter, and the more comments, both the good and the bad will help.  The hope is that people see more to Transylvania, Romania and Eastern Europe as something new and exciting.  The heart will always be Transylvania, but it is step by step and bit by bit where it can go.

It's being passionate enough to learn and to build a community where ideas are the key, even if it's about Dracula, the endangered species, the people, the history and the voices of Transylvania.  It's the beauty and the joy of learning and growing this community.  Should it be about money? In a sense to keep this blog alive it's a good thing, but success and writing about Transylvania and going from there is about re-seeing the world from someone else's point of view.

Transforming ideas? Simple, grow the community and the love of Transylvania.  It's a good thing to aim for.

December 5, 2017

Blogging and Success

Blogging is a needed means of communication.

It's surprising what blogging can do for a writer.  Not only can you find hundreds of ideas to write about, in some cases, you can even come up with a few in a matter of moments. It's as if you have that moment and that time to write.

It can be about Transylvania, or about politics or world events.  For example: King Michael of Romania passed away.  He was an elderly statement, who lived through one of the many major events in the world.  He outlived almost every statement of his time. Yet, he never needed to share his views on a small forum.  He had the world.

He knew his part in history and he knew how to communicate with the people he needed to.  He understood that he could share what he knew even if it wasn't what people wanted to hear.

Communication, is your platform for sharing, sharing what you know and what you feel is right. It is also the platform for success. In this case, is success something that is monetary? Is success something that you choose to have.


How scared are you of that word?  

How much does it scare you to change?

When blogging about Transylvania, should I only write what earns me the most income or should I find something new?  It's scary and nerve wracking and, really, it's a lot easier to stick with what you know.  Except you shouldn't.  You might fail, but that just simply might mean you lose a few less loyal readers, or a few less comments, or....

You succeed beyond you dreams.

That's a whole other thing, you might say it was luck, or just purely something that wasn't out of your comfort zone, but when you communicated in a different way after thinking and debating and then doing it, the blog post revived your love of blogging.  Blogging to communicate to people and to be better than before- success is nice.

It's like building a castle, and, in Romania, there are many castles, and some are very famous.  What this means is building it, and then seeing where it can go.  It also means keeping it growing and expanding and renovating it.

In my case, the love of writing about Transylvania was there, but my fear of success was greater.  I can point to a blog post I wrote a number of years back- about maps of Transylvania, which shows something of the passion I have for the land and people.


Still scared?

Maybe it's time to redefine success.

One extra blog post a year? One more thing I can share about Transylvania? Write one more book?

It's certain that there is a lot of information to find on Transylvania, and you can run a blog for years on it, you can write a lot on facts about Transylvania, and what it means to various countries, or you can build something greater and keep going.

Your blog can be successful, and you don't need to fear this success, but you have to try.  Sometimes, it is a matter of keeping on, and just aiming for better.  In this sense, our platforms can grow, and while we might not be statesmen or huge money making success stories, we shouldn't fear our own blogs, and we should never give up on our dreams.

Success is a daily choice, and even if you failed once, you know what not to do.  If your blog is smaller than you'd like, see what you can do to make it bigger and better.  Stand up for your believe in your readers and yourself.  Communicate your vision, build the castle you want and don't fear success.

November 26, 2017

Facts About Transylvania and Hungary

Hungary shaped Transylvania in many ways.  Although the majority of the people are Romanian, there is still a strong link to Hungary.  After all, there is a large minority of the Transylvanian population which is Hungarian in origin.  This being said, it is harder to find information about Hungary and Transylvania as opposed to Romania and Transylvania.

Facts about Transylvania and Hungary are as hard to find as the more detailed ones about Transylvania and its part in Romania.  Perhaps it is because Transylvania is not a "large" province of either one, and being a more primary based resource part of both, it isn't as high on the events and people, however, you can find information.

In this regard, you will have to look at the cities in Transylvania to find more details about the people and the events which shaped the country of Hungary. (And we aren't talking about Hollywood or magic or legends, rather just harder to find facts)  Facts are easy in a sense to find, the details are harder, and not knowing the full background it makes it more challenging to knowing more about what shaped Transylvania.

Take for example, the martyrs of Arad- the book the concise history of Hungary explains it, but not in much detail.  This area, the city and the dates of this event is important in the lives of the Hungarian community there.  In 1849, thirteen generals of the Hungarian Revolutionary army were hanged for their support of, or promotion of a parliamentary government for Hungary, which at this point was a part of the Austrian Empire.  Some were from princely families, such as Karoly Leningen-Westerburg, who was linked to the German princely House of Leiningen.  The only reason that the Empire of Austria survived was because of the help that the new Austrian Emperor, Franz Joseph I, received from Russia.

It wasn't until 1867 that this Empire would become known as the Dual Monarchy, or the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Another fact: this happened during the Hungarian Revolution of 1848, was in the Diet of Hungary which as part of their reforms listed 10 points, one of them being the reincorporation of Transylvania. the meeting on the 29th of May, 1848 (with Hungarians, Saxons and SzĂ©kelys- no Romanians were a part of the group) ratified the idea that Transylvania should be reunified with Hungary.  However, later on, the Saxons would reject this idea.

The treaty of Trianon, in 1920 also re-arrainged the boarders between Hungary and Romania, which made Transylvania a part of (at the time) the Kingdom of Romania.  Before this time Transylvania was a part of the Lands of the Crown of Saint Stephen.

November 16, 2017

Count Dracula and Magic

There is something about Dracula which is a source of interest to many people.  For some it's synonymous with Transylvania, and for others it's the feeling of power and magic which Dracula has: he's undead.  In fact it is the father of all vampires.

The book is also uses very powerful imagery.  The idea that it is written in letters and journals and various other media make it all the more fascinating for the reader.  At that point, horror wasn't the thing- it was considered an adventure story.  The fact that there was death and evil made it more of a selling point. It was exotic in its own way- being played out in a land which, at the time took weeks of travel to get there. It gave the magic to the reader that Frankenstein and other novels of the time also created.

It didn't make money for Stoker while he was living, something that many would learn from later sources, as his widow was a strong support in keeping the novel and legacy alive. After his death it was the magic of movies one in particular: Nosferatu, which would eventually help give new life to the book.  Some changes were made, but the land, Transylvania was the same, and Count Dracula became Count Orlok.  The second setting was in Germany in Nosferatu and in Britain in Dracula.

Count Orlok vanishes in a puff of smoke at the rise of the morning sun, due to his need to feed on blood, Dracula, in the novel dies from the combined wounds to his neck and heart.

Count Dracula and magic?

With the movies and the many ways Dracula dies has always made for more of a mysterious aura and the idea that he can only die under certain events (sun, dangerous and many mortal wounds) In Nosferatu the Vampyre was see a remake of the first movie, and the ending is similar, with the sun he dies, but Van Helsing would drive a wooden stake through his heart to make certain. (Unlike Count Orlok, who vanishes with the sun)

All of them use their coffins to transport themselves to various places.  They need the coffins or some method to transport themselves over water (this is noted in Dracula with the helpers he has).

All of them are killed by sunlight or to numerous wounds.

All of them are nearly immortal. He is undead, or a walking corpse (not a zombie) with an evil character.

In most cases, they have super-healing factors, but can be killed by other means (see the Dracula novel) but that is hard to do.

In some movies, as in the book, Dracula has the power of telepathy, the ability to read minds, and to hear his "children" if they need help- should he ever be close enough. (in Bram Stoker's Dracula the movie with Gary Oldman, it's clear this is one of his powers.)

Dracula, a simple novel created magic and the genre of horror and a lasting legacy of horror where the powers of good vs evil are found and fought.  It is where science and myth join and where a land developed more of a magical meaning to more people.

November 11, 2017

Those Who Don't Learn.

It's an old cliche but today it seems appropriate "Those who don't learn their history are doomed to repeat it." That's not the exact quote, and quite, the one which is possibly more true is the quote "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it" (George Santayana)

It's not a false statement, but it's not entirely true in the modern times.  As a culture we have too much information now.  It can be oral tradition, or written history.  It can be a person's own memories or a biography.  Either way, there is a lot more out there for people to learn from.  But....

What sort of thing do we actually learn?

In many places there is the great push of "100 years ago this happened."  As people we can learn from wikipedia, or the glossy magazine cover of what happened so many years ago, and have a general idea of how this event or that event took place.  Unfortunately, the people who were there are no longer living testimonies to these events.

For example in Romania, the last veteran of the World War One passed on in 2007.  Based on records, there are no surviving World War One veterans alive now.  They had their memories of war, and many told their stories, but one wonders how long before similar events happen?

It's not politics.

May I suggest that if you have a moment to go and play the game 'telephone.'  As a child, it taught me  the value of messages and stories early on.  In this game you sit in a group- the bigger the better- and  one person whispers a message in another person's ear.  It's simple enough.  Then, the next person passes on that message, and it goes around in a circle.

Most of the time, the message gets distorted, and it's all rather funny when "go and get me some candy" becomes "go find the fish for me." The right words are important. That's the challenge of oral history, somewhere along the lines the story changes.  Not always because of something someone willingly changed, rather because   people can, and do mishear things.  Innocent enough when it is a simple message.  However, this game has a bigger meaning to it.

You learn quickly not to trust your hearing, and this can be a quick game.  Imagine what history would be without as much writing in it.  However, the basis of history is "words" the spoken word, then it is written from memory or from another source.

The telephone game if you will in a larger context- that of world history.  In some cases it is entire countries.  In some cases it is family.  In others simply part of the country.  In Romania, the facts are clear, the Romanian government joined with the allies and was quickly overrun by the surrounding armies.  In the end, they still were able to claim overall victory, and gain territory.

To be clear, this doesn't tell the whole story.  Romania entered the war in 1916, and by May of 1918 signed a peace treaty.  The reentered the war in November of that same year.  Sounds like a basic structure- it is basic historical fact, no one would argue this.

However, if one doesn't learn from history, or more to the point one doesn't dig deeper, then you cannot truly learn from it.  The aftermath of the First world War gave rise to the Second.  In the grand scheme of things it meant another large scale war.  In Romania and Transylvania it meant many reviews of treaties and general animosity between peoples and cultures. Oral tradition comes into play.

You learn from history yes: what do you learn though?

In learning you keep an open mind, you ask questions.  Often, it's not the simple answers that are wrong, rather is it the way we create the answers.  Hungary was a part of the losing side of the war, Romania- the victor. Even reading a book such as the History of Hungary, one will see a different tone than if it's more focused on Eastern Europe.

What is written in history is based more often upon the victor's view of things.  This is especially true when dealing with history which is more of a modern history.  There are still men and women who lived through the Second World War, and their experience changes how many view the events.  Those who had the experience should be listened to, and learned from, but as with the game of telephone, one can ask questions.

Those who don't learn....

Maybe, the best answer is: those who don't learn to ask questions from different sides are doomed to repeat them.

September 21, 2017

On Blogs, Moving and Maps. (Or the Things I've Learned this Summer)

 It's something that anyone can tell you if you are going to travel, or blog. it's simple, and usually easy to follow. Have a map, a plan, an idea, and just a bit of courage. Or, in the case of this blog, and writing about Transylvania, the past tense might be more to the benefit of how the last few months have transpired.

Moving, of any sort, is not fun, and, while moving means new adventures, and this also means that as a writer of a blog a bit of organization is a high needs piece of life, and one which I am still a WIP.  Of course, good intentions and all of that wonderful idea of writing and moving, it simply didn't work as much as I had hoped.

It's also a challenge when a blog is starting to be a part of my life again, after years of feeling as if what I was writing wasn't as needed for readers as before.  The problem wasn't readers, but rather the writer.  Learning that there is always something to say is only piece of the journey. The next part is finding that the passion is still a part of the life of a blogger.

It's not about writing a blog post every day, but rather going forward in a new adventure mode.  Even looking at things in a different way.  In this case, the old assumption of maps being a story was nearly blown to bits owing to my adventures of traveling.  There are maps, and then there is the reality of what a map can actually tell you.  This case is best illustrated with a land map, upon traveling through lakes and the lake areas we found that the map we had made it look a lot different then the actual land.

One of them showed us that the road went "around the lake." This is not entirely the case, what was done was that gravel and dirt was brought in the middle of the lake, and dammed it up- much like beavers tend to do.  After many years, the one side of the lake was marsh and reeds, and the other was, high lake- almost level with the road.  Needless to say, it made for an interesting conversation when the map really didn't show the marsh, but a lake with a road beside it.

Some of the older maps of Transylvania were probably designed more with artistry in mind, as opposed to having the exact location and geography which our modern society wants in maps.  Blogs are similar, and moving and growing, and possibly changing it around to make it stronger is all a part of life and work within the internet.

The best thing learned? Just keep writing and growing.

July 16, 2017

Why Should I Visit Transylvania?

Let's play a game.  Say you want to do a bit of traveling outside of the normal routes.  Say that for you, London, Paris or Berlin are places which you have been to, and would want to visit something not too hot, so not Italy nor Portugal or Spain.  A bit of history is what you are after, along with some very interesting local stories.

You want to see some older buildings which have bloody histories, and some which have world famous people who have lived in them.  You want to visit small towns which date back centuries which seem to be lost in time.

Where should you go to travel?

Let's be clear, you want something a bit different and you have been to all the places listed before, but something familiar would be fine with you.  This is why you should visit Transylvania.  Take for examples its castles, at nearly 700 of them, they range from the famous- Bran Castle- to ruins which you can explore as a tourist. There are older abbeys which have histories dating back more than a 1,000 years.  There are converted churches- from the Lutheran Churches to the Romanian Orthodox.

The food is also impressive, it begins which the mix of Hungarian, the Romanian and the German.   There is a great deal of Asian flavour and Middle Eastern, as the Mongols and the Ottoman Empires would attempt to invade from the East.

Some tourist go to see the land, because of the fact that it was the 'gateway to Europe.'  The past and the present seems to collide, when in a few hours one can drive in a very metropolitan city such as Brasov, only to find centuries old villages which have stood the test of time, and they are still inhabited. For people who have not lived in Transylvania, but have family who did, it is always amazing to search on Google Maps, and see the villages that the family grew up in, and where much of the village is intact and is maintained.

There are religious aspects to the land, this is where cultures seemed to have an idea of how to live, or co-exisit in some fashion with Catholics, Lutherans, Jews and Romanian Orthodox living and worshiping in the same area.  This is a land where the people have both much, and very little.  It is a land which survived and thrived under many types of politics.

The cultures have survived and carried on, and they are a link between the past and the future in Transylvania.  It is a land where the community and the culture are still an important part of Transylvania.

Transylvania, is a place you should visit, not only for the major attractions but also for the less important ones- the people and the smaller communities, where the investment and the memories are so vital.  It is a place you should see to learn about, and to enjoy.  Give yourself the credit, and not only go to see a place such as Bran castle, or to the city of Brasov, but also to the outlying communities which have as much if not more history to them as.

May 21, 2017

Transylvania and "Cool"

Writing about Transylvania
Cool and Things about Transylvania 
Transylvania is cool.  While that might not seem as if that's academic or even remotely smart, what it does mean is that people who don't know about the area, find it interesting.  This conversation has happened time and again when I mention that my family lived in Transylvania.

This conversation usually goes with "wow that's cool." Or, most notably in the last while, "wow, Transylvania is pretty cool."  I'm reasonably certain that they are not making reference to the weather, although the mountains are high enough to be cool for most of the year. Sometimes, they will ask questions about the area to confirm they had heard it correctly.(If I am honest, there is also a good chance that the person will mention Dracula, but I digress)

It's making it easier to be in a more positive mindset about writing and talking about Transylvania when you hear the words it's cool.  It's fun to write about a place where the people and the history is so varied and unique and where each bit of detail can change who and what you see of as "Transylvania."

Going for a bit of a travel with family who once lived there was also an experience which was also both cool and sad.  Google maps proved to be very useful in terms of seeing the villages that people who lived there once saw.  For the most part, the buildings in the smaller villages remained the same. For some people, who left while very young and hadn't returned, it was more of a "wow" moment.  They could visualize their home, and not just from stories others told them.

For others, who left later in their lives, and had more memories of the area, they said that it was different, in some ways more run down, and they could see the effects of communism or of lack of pride in the villages. Others, found that the house or the mill or whichever was there had been torn down, or expanded.  To them, it was bittersweet "cool."

Transylvania does hold some unique memories and for many, these are more vivid and happier than what they find now.  The same holds true with most people and how they recall events.  More often than not, the person remembers it as either better or worse than what it really was.  It seems this holds true when it comes to the people and the land that they lived.  This is another way we can keep the ties that bind us to our past.

Sometimes, for something to be cool, one most have no preconceived notions about the area, and yet, as this post pointed out, most people have an idea of the world around them and have general ideas of what a place, a culture and a people should be.  To be a part of Transylvania and its culture means that sharing the facts is only one part, it is also a willingness to make the place a bit more unique, cool if you will, to others who might want to know more about the land.

March 22, 2017

Losing the Ties that Bind Us

It seems that these days there is a surge of the "blame game." Someone, somewhere, somehow, some when, did something to you- as a child... as a teenager... as an adult.  There's always someone to blame, and the best of the blames generally comes from the past.  (I am not talking about severe trauma, or abuse; rather the ones that everyone has to deal with at some point in their lives.) That's the problem, by blaming we lose a part of our lives.

I was struck that most people don't like to deal with how their parents, or their grandparents lived.  My family were farmers.  Nothing wrong with that, nothing at all.  They lived in Transylvania, and had lived in a small village, and work, church and extended family were the foundation, if not the end all and be all of life.

That was how they lived, and there was no margin for error, they worked for their food and they believed and held on to a religion.  People were born as farmers, and worked as that, and should they want to be anything else, this was unacceptable.  You were not an individual, but rather a part of a group trying to create food, and shelter and a living.

That's what bound them together, it was a harder life, especially in a place such as Transylvania.  There were characters in the villages and most people knew each other's business, and individuality wasn't encouraged.  In fact, in many dresses or suits, almost all the siblings would wear the same outfit.  Possibly not due to style, but due to the cost of materials for all of them.  The women tended to marry young, and have numerous children, and the men would be the providers.

Yet, now in the present, we are expected to be individuals, these strong people, full of empathy and compassions, with a higher sense of worth houses filled to the brim with stuff. We are not supposed to be as "down to earth" because we should have a sense of a style of our own, and go where the adventure lies, so that we live for the moment.

Now, not everyone feels this way, but it does make one wonder what it takes to get back to ones roots.  A good example is the art of crafts.  With many people in Transylvania, there was a strong element of traditional dresses.  Credit goes to the women who spend days and months creating these works of art.  In a sense, the art and woodworking and craftwork bound the people closer together.

The Saxons had their own style of dresses, which were worn on important or special occasions, as did the Romanians, and the Hungarians and the Jewish communities.  They all shared the common core value of community and hard work.  They all felt their community had the most positive aspects, and that they were a part of the workings of the nation they lived in.

After the Second World War, this all changed.  As many of these communities fled Transylvania, they attempted to keep the ties to the land they lived in, and in many cases loved.  However, as the population who once lived in Transylvania passes, the ties that bind us to there, or those who do not live in Transylvania become loser.  The ties are tested against a more Western culture, which values independence more than community.

The farmers lost their land, and the descendants did not have the means to learn, especially when many would immigrate to the large cities in North America or other smaller European countries.  As time has passed, we might blame them for not pushing towards a stronger community.  We might blame them for holding us back or pushing too hard.

However, in the process we create more loss instead of learning from the past and what the people of Transylvania accomplished with what they had at the time.

March 3, 2017

Credit to the Heart of the Matter

Some years are better than others when it comes to being passionate about what you love to do- even if there is a lot of "bad faith" about what you are doing.  It's great to be passionate about a subject matter, for example Transylvania, but it's also just as hard when the heart of the matter is the people whom you expect should be supportive of you are passive-agressive naysayers.

So, the passion you have isn't enough.

Wait... let's take a step back here and think logically- if this is a passion, a bit of enjoyment and a hobby do you have to prove that it's a money making business to anyone? No, you don't.

Now, if this is supposed to be a money making business, to whom do you have to prove this fact to?  Well: yourself, and your budget.  Maybe your banker but certainly not anyone else. (I can hear the "buts" already, but if your parents/grandparents/family/best buddies/whomever isn't paying the money you don't need to answer to them.)

Let's credit this to the heart of the matter.  Let's talk Transylvania, let's talk about Dracula.  Feeling like you can sit down and learn about these things?  Romanian Royalty? Hungarian nobility? Let's get back there, let's talk politics, let's talk anything about Transylvania that we should talk about.

Let's credit our passions for a place, and people to whom both readers and bloggers want to write, and  what we have to offer.  This blog is a fun place to write, and learning about Romania, and its people and history are all a part of the passion we can all have when talking about peoples and places.  It's the art of sharing the newest political information and hoping that people learn from this.

The heart of the matter?

It's all about sharing the knowledge and learning about growth as a blogger and as a person who shares information.  It's about the vocal groaning when one comes across an older, not so well written post.  It's also about this blogger wanting to give credit to people who stood by this blog for years, and still do.  It's about learning about taking some credit for both success and failure.

Finding a means to take a bit of credit?

That is looking at a bit of success, last year, 2016, was a hard year, and Things about Transylvania wasn't really written on- let's be honest, six blog posts in one year is not writing on something. Not that there wasn't passion for the blog, but rather there wasn't a drive, a feeling of success, and a feeling of knowing exactly what works, and what doesn't.  It was a year of contemplation and thought.

The blog- this blog Things About Transylvania, Romania- didn't suffer, but that was because (and a credit to) of the readers here and not because of the writers.  The fact that Transylvania is still vital and important to them means that something was good.  Let's talk a moment about the success.  It meant that at least one writer returned, and one person still found a reason to be passionate about Transylvania once more.

It means that there are more blog posts than this time last year- if only because it's the start of the year, but it's a small step.  It means that Transylvania is back to where it belongs in terms of feeling that it has a place and time for this writer to enjoy it again.

It's about doing what is once again a passion, and knowing that really it's all going to be just fine.

February 6, 2017

Romania, and the Power of People

People have a way of uniting for what they want.  They have a way to make change happen when they feel that there is something wrong.  In 1989, the Romanian people protested and were able to overthrow the political party at the time.  They had a favourable era on their side, with much of the Eastern European world under great stress and change, and because of this they were able to change how Romania is run.

In December Klaus Iohannis named a new prime minister, and, there is political unrest and general dissatisfaction with a change in corruption policies.  According to some reports nearly half a million people have gone out to protest the proposed change in the law against corruption.

That speaks volumes.  The Romanian people are united.  Some of the politicians have declared that they "won't quit" despite the protests.  There is however, a strong possibility that they will be forced to resign if the protests continue, and the news media keeps up the coverage of this. In some cases, the world media pointed out these protests were caused by a proposed law, and even with its repeal the protests haven't stopped.

One person with whom the corruption law would have benefited from, Liviu Dragnet, argued that it was a political motivated protest, from "shadowy elements."  He denies wrongdoing- but according to the laws which govern Romania, he did.  He might argue it is unfair to him, and might argue it is politically motivated, but he is allowed his view.  As do the people of Romana.  They do not want the corruption laws to change.  That is a known fact. What is also a  known fact is that the people in Romania know that they have the power to change their history.

As in 1989, Bucharest and many other cities have had large scale protests, and the new government- which has been in power since the end of December is trying to deal with.  The power of the people is strong- and most of the world media have noted that it is largely peaceful protests in the major cities around the country.

Romania has a powerful history and its people should have cause to celebrate, they know, they believe and understand that they have a voice.  That is the reality which the politicians in Romania, and possibly around the world must understand.

January 16, 2017

On Death And The Merry Cemetery in Transylvania

In Sapanta, Transylvania, Romania, there is a wonderful and unique cemetery known as Cimitrul Vesel (The Merry Cemetery).  This small community is gaining fame.  This is due to the colours on the tombstones, and the element of truth in the epitaphs, this cemetery shows a powerful and unique way of dealing with death.

This gem of a place is mentioned in Atlas Obscura, which has some of the most interesting and, obscure places one can visit.  To say that a cemetery is "merry", is at best ironic, but it is the colourful blue tombstones themselves which add to the bizarre, and, more human element to this area.

It is a small village, and as with many villages the world over, everyone knows something about everyone else.  In this case, there is no need to "hide" from the fact that you died, or even the manner of your death, nor to hide from the fact that you were not perfect in life.

This carving the tombstones for the dead is the labour of love for Stan Ioan Patras, who began his woodworking for the cemetery and even craved his own tombstone.  His apprentice, Dumitru Pop, has carried on his work after Patras' death in 1977.

Death, or how many of the European communities view it, is a passage where it is a sad event.  One does not see this person again.  Either for good or bad.  The Merry Cemetery takes a different point of view for many years.  The older tombstones are less ornate and contain little of what might interest people.

They do contain dates of birth and death and the like, and possibly a kind epitaphs, but the tombstones after the 1930s are different, and unique and give the dead a means of being more alive than simply a memory.  Patras himself made poems or verses on the tombstones, and each had a piece of the person's life- or moments of death- on the head.  It is not a happy place, but it give life to the dead.

Even more important it harkens back to the Dacians who held a view that death was a step to a better life, one which was to be filled with joy and anticipation.  In this, the village has done an amazing job at portraying to people who come and visit.

As a note to tourists, this is a small community, one which is hard to find on a map bigger than Transylvania, so knowing a bit of Romanian will help.  Many recommend that a person has a guide, as to better understand the poems and the people who created them.

January 11, 2017

Maps of Transylvania

Every picture tells a story, and every picture will have a different meaning for each person. When it comes to Transylvania, the pictures are important, and maps tell more of a story. It shows the history of a land and its people. Transylvania is not a country of its own, but as with most areas which have different cultures and history there, it has a story.  Some of those are simple.

A map can show a person "where is Transylvania?" and can give them a sense of where something important is.  It can show details- such as mountains ranges.

It takes time and effort to learn about history with maps, because all too often we don't want to expand on our knowledge or sometimes, we don't want to learn that our former believes were wrong.  It is a challenge to look at an older map and learn, for example, that Bran Castle is closer to south than one might have felt.

Or that there are countless different names for the same city, based upon language. Transylvania  isn't as large of an area as one might think- simply because of other provinces which surround it, but a map can show differences that wouldn't be there before.  It's all about perception and what people take away from each picture- or map.

Even looking at cities can be a challenge- in this older map it shows the Saxon cities of Transylvania, which you'd not find anymore.  They are still there, but all these cities have a Romanian name to them, and not the German they had in this map.  This being said, they always had a Romanian name, but often, the more common was based on the people and culture which had the majority of the population.

Maps are instruments of learning and a means to tell a story.  The more stories, the more people learn.  It is up to the person to gather and decide what is important to them to know about history, culture and peoples of each area.

Each part of Transylvania has had a unique history and this allows it to have a place in the world.  In some cases, this place is a tourist attraction- such as Bran Castle, formerly the home of Queen Marie of Romania, and one which is still privately owned by the Queen's family.  It is a learning experience to see on a map that Bran Castle is close to Brasov and unlike in Dracula, it is not near the city of which Stoker wrote about.

Culture and history do play a role in changes to how people think of a land, or a country (in this case with Transylvania, part of a country.) It also plays an economic role, as the more people learn of an area the more inclined to visit the places the maps show.