May 22, 2015
We were moving on today, so after our breakfast (left-over kürtőskalács) we packed up and went downstairs. We expected somebody to be there to take our payment, but there was nobody around. Luckily one of the other guests could speak a bit of English and he was able to track down the girl who we had met when checking in. It took a while, but eventually we convinced her that we did owe some money.
Finally on the road, we headed back down to the main highway at Ceahlău. We had rejected Google Maps’ idea of following winding mountain roads to Sucevița and decided to take the flatlands route via Suceava instead, so we followed the road towards Târgu Neamț. In the Vânătorii Neamț national park we saw a sign pointing to a monastery complex, so we decided on the spur of the moment to go there.
What a surprise was in store for us! The monastery, although one of the oldest in Romania, wasn’t that interesting. It was the nearby church which was the surprise. Far from being twelfth-century, it was a project which started in 2007 with funding from the government of Romania and the EU. The new church had been painted with biblical scenes and portraits of numerous saints, except for two sides which were still unfinished. One side was under scaffolding and we watched two men in the process of painting it. It was a stunning site. As for the monastery, we decided not to pay 5 lei each to go in, and just looked through the archway entrance.
Back on the main road we continued on towards Suceava, stopping along the way for lunch (more left-over kürtőskalács). Being a roadside pullout it wasn’t the greatest of lunch spots, but it was beside a lake so we watched and listened to the birds while eating. In Suceava we looked in our guidebook and decided to stop for a walk around. But after negotiating traffic, roundabouts, and pedestrians we arrived in the town centre and couldn’t figure out where to park. There were signs telling us how many spaces were available in the parking garages, which weren’t helpful because we couldn’t find those garages. So we gave up on the idea and bumbled our way out of the town and back onto the main road.
Pretty soon we came to Pătrăuți and a sign pointing to the UNESCO World Heritage monastery. We were here to see those monasteries so we decided to make the detour. This was the first church founded by Stephen the Great, in 1487. It only had one worn-down painting, a fragment of the Last Judgement scene, but considering its age it was in remarkably good condition.
From here it didn’t take very long to drive to our destination, Casa Felicia in Sucevița, just down the road from the monastery. Our room was in a small house which was beautifully decorated with local textiles. It also had a large wood-burning stove, but the weather was warm enough so that we never needed to use it. Our hosts spoke French (and Romanian) but not English, so we brushed off our extremely rusty high-school French and that actually worked out reasonably well. For the rest of the afternoon we sat on our porch and enjoyed a large pot of tea and some date cakes.
The dining area is in a lovely room with windows on two sides, looking out into the grassy centre area. We started out with a cherry brandy liqueur and then had a delicious homemade potato and mushroom soup. The mushrooms were inky-caps, picked in the forest behind the house. (She showed us the picture in her book.) Our main meal was polenta with classic cabbage rolls and cream, and to drink we had red wine which was quite potent! It was a very good meal.