We left Onești fairly early this morning after stopping off at a patisserie for some coffee and breakfast strudels. Dad also got himself an eclair because...why not. We took the road North to Roman, a city large enough to appear highlighted on our road map, but too small for a mention in our guidebooks. Roman is the city where my grandmother was born and raised, and where her family home still [barely] stands. This was also the home where my uncle was born and raised, hence his bust perched on the front lawn. 

The house was built in 1887, presumably by or for our grandfather Demostene Celibidache. It would make sense given the timeline and his appointment to the city government. The hazier details are ones we hope to have clarified when we see Sonia again on Sunday.

While in Roman, we happened upon a march or parade or dedication of some sort. From what my dad could make out, a group of military personnel were being acknowledged and blessed by an Orthodox priest for some impending battle. But, as my dad quickly pointed out, none of the service people looked young enough to be in fighting condition. And it was true. Not only that, but who's Romania about to go off and fight?

Mystery unsolved, we left in the direction of our next destinations, two large Orthodox convents located near Târgu Neamț. The first convent we visited was a bit of a let down. I was actually confused as to whether or not we were allowed to be there. It just felt unwelcoming and unremarkable. The second convent was a whole other story.

 Agapia Convent

Agapia Convent

The Agapia Convent is incredibly beautiful and one of the most tranquil places I've ever visited. The interior courtyard of the convent is full of roses and wildflowers, and is extremely quiet--but not the eerie kind of quiet. Outside of the fortified walls are rolling evergreen hills that make the convent feel completely isolated. They even had a museum of random Eastern-Orthodox artifacts as well as art by Nicolae Grigorescu, who was responsible for painting the interior of the church after it's restoration.

After the visit to the convent, we continued our way North to Gura Humorului, a more tourist-friendly spot given it's central location to the painted monasteries of Southern Bucovina. I should mention that our drive since Sinaia has been incredibly beautiful. The landscape has changed from forested mountain ranges, to farmland, to rolling meadows...And the architecture becomes more ornate and less touched by the country's communist past. 

Upon arriving in Gura Humorului, we found ourselves with a bunch of extra time, so we booked a room at the very cute, very reasonably-priced Hilde's Residence, and then jumped back into the car to see our first painted monastery. 

Voroneț Monastery is just a few kilometers north of Gura Humorului and is known as the "blue" monastery. Supposedly the color blue used in the paintings is one that no one has been able to reproduce since. I don't know how true that is, I haven't fact-checked, but there you go.

 Detailed view of the Voroneț Monastery's exterior wall

Detailed view of the Voroneț Monastery's exterior wall

What I will say is that the inside of the church made my jaw drop. From floor to the very-high domed ceilings, are painted elaborate frescoes and icons in crazy bright colors. Inside the church were some before-and-after photos showing was the paintings looked like prior to the restoration. It was remarkable to see how well they were able to restore the details and saturation of the originals. 

Tomorrow we will visit two more of the painted monasteries that lay further in the North. After that, we'll zip clear across to the East for Iași.