May 07, 2009

Observations from a village festival

Visiting the Danube Delta was high on my wishlist for this trip. I'm not a bird person but the area sounds beautiful so after leaving L. in Bucharest on Sunday I departed for a new adventure: reaching Sf. Gheorghe - and maybe more importantly - coming back to Bucharest in time for my flight home.

All the ferry schedules I had found, gave different information so after arriving in Tulcea (an easy-to-forget city) I decided on Monday morning to just go and see what would happen (knowing that there are only three ferries a week so turning around halfway wasn't an option).

The ferry there was absolutely packed - not only with people but also building supplies, food, plants, the list goes on. After asking my neighbour she said it was because of a local festival this week.


In my usual unplannedness I had expected Sf. Gheorghe to be as deserted as everywhere else so far and had not booked anythign ahead. Once off the boat, it turned out that there wasn't a map of the town anywhere, no discernible streetnames, and no clear signs for the pensions. By then I was picturing myself wandering the dirtroads of Sf. Gheorghe for the rest of the night, unable to find accomadation.

The place I did find with the help of some locals was a lovely cute pension where I was all of three guests. With the hour my host had a grilled fish dinner ready and I'd discussed plans to share a boat for a trip up the Delta with my Romanian fellow guests (a Bucuresti-couple who looked bored for their whole stay).


Currently I'm sitting on the upper deck of the ferry back at 6:30am - three days after the above happened. Well-rested, I suppose (apart from the 6am wake-up) - after two days of enforced laziness. I spent half of both days lying at the beach. A pretty much empty, long stretch of shelly beach on the Black See. Deserted, apart from a couple of cows, and myself of course.

The rest of the time was spent sitting at one of the boat jetties, reading and looking out over the water, and for a short two hours on a little boat to spot white pelicans in the Delta.

And then there was the festival. A celebration of St. George, patron of fisher men, but on the date of the old Russian Orthodox calendar. It started off with a ceremony in the local church, with a huge meal in the churchyard. After that, the party moved to the main square where a big stage was set up. Throughout the day there would be performances of the local band, ropetowing & dancing competitions and the highlight of the evening: a Ukrainian song and dance troupe, boated in for the occasion (the Delta stretches out into the Ukraine and the people have a shared history with many people in Sf. Gheorghe speaking Russian).

So, I had fun watching and observing the village celebrating the party of the year. All of the above was of course combined with plenty of beer and meat.

At some point, I had collected a fanclub of kids trying out their "Do you like [sports/pink/chocolate/etc]" phrases on me. And I had to do my best to keep a straight face when a Bucuresti dude in a cool PUMA-jacked told me about his trip to the Netherlands two years ago to see a concert of his favourite band, BZN....

But for now, my adventures are up. I'm heading back to Bucharest (a long day of ferry and bus) before flying home tomorrow. It's been a good two weeks, for the moment my travel bug is sated again.

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