duminică, 12 mai 2013

Most impressive Romanian Churches, As Seen by a Group of Lebanese Tourists

Most impressive Romanian Churches, As Seen by a Group of Lebanese Tourists

One of the most important things to know about Romania is quite simple: despite the pregnant existence and influence of the minorities (specially, the Hungarian one), the people is very unit and homogene: 90 % of the population are Romanian, speak Romanian as Mother's language and are members of the Romanian Orthodox Church.
Here started the all story: Arrival of Lebanese tourists on Bucharest airport

Every small village has a church, and the tour leader Ziad Khairallah from Vladimir Travel/Beirut made a special selection of the most impressive and spectacular Romanian churches, with the help and on the competent suggestion of Euforia Travel/Nicoleta Balasa (I had the pleasure and honor to be the tour guide, and I was totally fascinated by their joy of life! Another story, though.)
The fantastic church of Voronet Monastery, probably the most impressive and spectacular church from Romania

Visiting the Romanian Churches is maybe the best way to learn and understand something about the Romanian history. We saw together a lot of churches, ones of them very renowned, like the Black Church from Brasov, but also one almost unknown, totally off the beaten path, the Monastery of Rasca/Suceava.

I learned on this tour (thank you, Zyad & Co from Lebanon) that nowadays the biggest orthodox church of Romania lies in Targu Mures. There the people were preparing the Easter, the most important feast of the Christianity. Everything on the way reminded us those preparations, and it was really an event celebrating Easter with this fantastic group of Lebanese tourists.
A wood church in the Village museum from Bucharest, another hit

We also saw and visited one of the oldest Romanian Churches: the church from the Old Courtyard from Bucharest, which has hosted from centuries the intronization of the happy Romanian princes! It was overcrowded, because is in the middle of Bucharest, a city with 2 Millions inhabitants. Another old church, build by the Cantacuzino family, is in Sinaia,( also known like the pearl of Carpathians, a romantic and royal getaway not far from Bucharest). The old church is little, but more interesting than the new big one.
The St Nicholas Church from Brasov

A special mention for the painted churches from Bucovina. We choose the most beautiful one, namely Voronet. It is really amazing, and totally overwhelming. The colors are based on a secret recipe (probably lapis lazuli powder, with other vegetable ingredients) and have lasted for 500 years without restoration!

As the Columbian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez used to say: the most important thing in life is to tell the story of it! I must not forget the Cathedrals from Sighisoara, Sibiu(on the model of St Sophia Cathedral from Istanbul) or the Monastery of Bistrita.

Seeing this long list of churches or monasteries ( add the Evangelic Churches from Sighisoara, Targu Mures) could lead to the idea of a religious pilgrimage. Totally wrong, it was much more than that, and the churches are just a small part of of the Romania Introduction Course! We still remember museums, restaurants, songs and dances!

joi, 9 mai 2013

Lebanese Tourists in Romania

Guiding Lebanese Tourists in Romania

When I first knew that is highly probably guiding a big group of Lebanese tourists coming to Romania, I felt it could be an interesting provocation. Despite the huge differences of language and culture, I did not say now, when the local organizer Euforia Travel from Bucharest proposed me to run this tour, with the clients from Vladimir Travel/Beyrouth.
My group of Lebanese tourists in Castle Peles, Sinaia

And it really was a wonderful experience, a pleasure and an honor to me. We drove 1600 km all over Romania, and I have struggled to introduce and present Romania in the most realistic way, without hiding the unpleasant details (Romania might be nice and fabulous as travel destination, but it is not perfect. No matter, even the sun has a lot of stains!).
The Lebanese Tour Leader, Zyad Khairallah (in the middle, by the monk) with  Mr Asuccar, ar left

I hope that the tourists, perfectly organized by the tour leader Zyad Khairallah (thank you, Zyad!) have been happy about the new discoveries. But I also started to discover a fantastic and fabulous culture. We sung and danced Romanian and Lebanese, and this  cultural mix and mutual acceptance is by far the most important asset of this tour. I loved from the first minute the Lebanese for their joy of life and deep beliefs, I loved their relaxed way to overcome some troubles and problems. I was a little disappointed that most of them never drink alcohol, even the Cabernet Sauvignon from Romania, but those who tasted, really enjoyed!
The group of Lebanese tourists in the huge impressive Romanian Parliament house, with special mention for the little guide Fouad

The cultural difference was not so big. We were very pleasant to discover some unbelievable identhical superstition (e.g. a women's bag lying on the floor brings poverty!). They were very familiar with the Byzantine ritual from the Romanian churches, excepting the language. They understood almost all the Romanian jokes, myths and legends and laughed, and I also understood theirs. It was a grace of God meeting these friendly temperamental people I was afraid to the beginning of our adventure.

To be more specific, this unique tour took place between 1st and 7th of May, 2013 with starting and living from Bucharest Airport. I will be back with details, but these facts of life are much more important to know. I hope to have in the future other occasions to cooperate with Lebanese Tourists, I won't hesitate any minute to accept! Mes meilleurs voeux pour les tourists de Liban.