what you get here

This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Travelogues - about Romania

Romania is a large country – but remote - several days of driving are required before travellers from northern Europe will reach Bucharest in its south. Hardly surprising therefore some have chosen to walk or cycle!
I have identified at least a dozen Travelogues for this first part of a series about books about Romania -

The most famous was Patrick Leigh Fermour whose trilogy of his walk from the English Channel to Istanbul in the 1930s was finished only this year.
A few years later Sacharverwell Sitwell used motorised transport and gave us Romanian Journey (1938) 

In 1999 Alan Ogden published “Romania Revisited – on the trail of English travellers 1602-1941” but the same author also edited an Englishman’s description of Romanian villages in the 1930s – “Romanian Furrow - Colourful Experiences of Village Life”; Donald Hall (Author) and Alan Ogden (Editor) (2007). Sadly neither of these books are currently available.

“Stealing from a deep place” by Brian Hall (1985) recounts experiences touring by bicycle through Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary, a two-year trip (1982-1984) made possible by a travel fellowship. "He focuses", the blurb tells us, "on the political milieu which has led to food shortages and inadequate housing for a growing proportion of the population. Among the private citizens of the countries visited, he found great warmth and curiosity coexisting with an avarice and mistrust brought about by necessity".

Clearly travel was easier after 1989 – although only 4 books seem to cover the 1990s -
The last few years have seen a little more interest –
  • Moons and Aurochs; a Romanian Journey; Alan Ogden (2007) is impossible to find
  • Along the Enchanted Way by William Blacker (2010) an upper-class Englishmen who chose to live first in Maramures and then in Transylvania for a few years, conducting a couple (admitted) of love affairs with gypsies in the course of the latter - but writing beautifully before disappearing to Italian and English country houses
  • To Romania, with Love  by Tessa Dunlop (2012) perhaps belongs better to the memoir section which will follow shortly
  • Never Mind the Balkans – here’s Romania by Mike Ormsby (2012) is difficult to categorise - amusing sketches of contemporary life in Romania written by an ex-pat
  • The way of the Crosses; Peter Hurley (2013) is a genuine traveller's tale which I wrote about in my previous post

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