Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Bucharest back to Boston

Adriana and Gabriel in their apartment at the theatre, since they can't live at their apartment until Gabriel gets the casts off his legs. They're going to have their first child together and I'm sure that you can tell the baby will be beautiful after looking at Mom and Dad!

Friday was getting to Bucharest day for the jury members who lived there and the performers who were flying back home from there. Although the road was good, this was the start of the Orthodox Easter Weekend which includes Monday. We did stop about halfway through the journey at a delightful restaurant and hotel on a charming little lake. Driving into the city was sheer madness as the traffic there was as bad as it is in New York! Many of the drivers ignored banalities such as traffic lanes, trying to get into a better position. It was rather like a race with no set track or rules.

We started out at about 10:30 in the morning and I was dropped off at my hotel about 4:30. I asked Daria to please tell the driver he deserved a gold medal for getting us there all in one piece! I had a desperate need to do some stretching exercises and soak in a tub of hot water – by myself. Luckily my Webist artist friend Carmen and her hubby Valentin were understanding of my need to spend some time alone.

Late the next afternoon, Carmen and Valentin took me to the town of Mogoşoaia, where a summer palace designed by Constantin Brâncoveanu was built between 1698 and 1702. It was early evening when we got there, even though the buildings were closed we were able to wander around the grounds near a lake. The state took over the palace in 1956. Behind the old kitchen building lies a statue of Lenin, now nose in the dirt, that was dumped there after Romania’s democratic revolution in 1989. There is also another statue of the former communist prime minster Petru Groza to keep Lenin company in the weeds.

We then went to a restaurant called La Mama Casa in an old part of Bucharest, which was wonderful. We had a great time eating and drinking and talking about art and our lives. They had wanted me to go to a special Orthodox midnight Easter ritual with them, but I declined as I was still very tired from an action packed week. None of us were looking at the time, so it was midnight by the time we left the restaurant. As they drove me to my hotel, we could see people coming home from church carrying many different kinds of light candles.

On this Easter eve, the faithful go to church where they light a candle from ones in the church. The candles signifying the light of Christ, are then brought home and kept burning as a sign of their faith and for good luck for the following year. It was beautiful to see the faces of the people light by candle light was they either walked home or to their cars. Carmen and Valentin had already given me two red colored eggs. The eggs are supposed to be knocked together by family members or friends so they will meet again in the afterlife.

On Orthodox Easter Sunday I went to the airport for my flight back to Boston. It’s good to travel in Bucharest that day as most folks were involved in family celebrations and not out on the road.

And here I am in Boston once more. I was supposed to have lunch with my friend Mark who lives on the Cape, but work mucked up our plans. As I went out in search of lunch, in the Italian North End where I was staying, it was drizzly gray, smelling like a big bowl of local steamed clams – salty, earthy, pungent. I wandered into a restuarant there called Strega on Hanover St. in the North End, mostly because they offered a lobster ravioli for lunch. What a delightful place! I was determined not to have a glass of wine with lunch, until after I placed my order and heard the owner open a bottle of wine - I'm a sucker for the sound of a poped cork! So I caught his eye and said I did indeed want a glass of wine and how about a pinot grigio. He told me he had something better than that and opened a bottle of Rufino Orvieto to pour me a glass. We chatted a bit and after I finished my wonderful lunch, he came over with a small glass of the liquor called Strega produced in his hometown.

"Strega gets its start back in the early 1860’s. Giuseppe Alberti based the recipe for his product on one which the local monks had been making up as a medicinal tonic. The recipe was enhanced with additional herbs and spices and was sold as “Alberti Medical Elixir.” Unfortunately, it wasn’t catching on. So with what amounts to a grand marketing inspiration, Giuseppe came upon the idea of renaming the product “Strega,” which means “witch” in Italian. In Benevento, where Strega is produced, there was a local belief of witchcraft, and one of the most popular uses was the formulation of a secret “love potion.” Giuseppe insinuated that his elixir was associated with this formula, and its popularity was assured."

It's a bright yellow liquor with a taste one can't quite put one's finger on. But is was very strong so it was just two sips for me. My friend then brought over a cup of decaf expresso for me as he didn't want me to get lost getting back to the hotel.

Later this afternoon, I caught up with my old high school chum, Jonathan Stangroom. He drove over to the htoel and we walked over to another Italian resturant with a bar for a couple of boom-bahs and stories from my journey puchuated with our memories of high school in Tyngsborough. Some of the funny stories I remembered, he didn't, but isn't that always the way with friends and family talking about the past? He did say Hi from another old high school friend Mike Langlois, who works with him painting. We also compared notes on foreign travel and how it's a wonderful way to gain a better perspective on one's life.

Tomorrow home again, home again, jiggedity jig. While this journey has been wonderful, I've so missed my sweet hubby, the dog and kitties. I know there will be a mountain of mail to go through, but I've made friends and memories to last a lifetime! Can't wait to go back! You'll also want to check out the Flickr site later this week as I'll post the rest of the photos I've taken there along with some videos which I'll also post to You Tube.

Post a Comment