I am addicted to schnitzel. There are no two ways about it. I have been in Romania for four days and cannot get enough of it. Served with peasant bread and cabbage salad. Side order of paprika wedges. Absolutely. Whilst the schnitzel is being washed down with lashings of Romanian craft beer I start to think I have found peace with the world and Romania might be the ying to my yang.
You might be fooled into thinking that I am an oversized Trollope who enjoys his sustenance — perhaps so. Perhaps I am somebody having a jolly good time exploring Romania.
Today, I scrambled up the side of a hill to see a fortified church in a Saxon village. I arrived in my ill-equipped hire car —poor thing hasn’t stood a chance. When I picked up the car it had barely done one hundred kilometres, here we are less than a week on and it’s tipped a thousand. I walk around the overgrown grassy lane, wild flowers and thistles jut out from the banks. I negotiate a path through, past chickens and dogs. I startle a local chap as he is mid-wee. Fag in his mouth, dirty shirt unbuttoned to his belly button. I pretend I didn’t see and he points me into an overgrown courtyard where a bell rings as I enter. The scene inside is medieval. Meadow flowers pepper the over grown foliage, while a church, as picture perfect as a fairy tale stands proud and tall. She is crumbling but still grand, I gently tread around the perimeter taking her all in being sure not to miss anything. Some window panes are missing and several of the doors are blocked up, I peer up to the bell tower which I am sure lost its chime many years ago. Still the facade of the dial is charming and I can see ‘1880’ clearly written on the face.
I find an open door and gently tread in as I feel I am somewhere I shouldn’t be. Every floor board creaks as I stare in wonder. Faded frescos pepper the ceiling where patches of plaster have succumbed to years of wear and tear. At the back of the church I climb a steep, dusty ladder to a platform where a geriatric organ quite probably has played to countless congregations, perhaps since the foundations of the very church were built.
For me this is the jewel in the crown of my visit, the organ pipes are bent and twisted like they have been bashed with a hammer, if they were to play now I am sure they would wheeze and cough. The keys of the board look in danger of turning to dust if I touch them, peering further my revelry moment is spotting the pencil graffiti that literally covers the wooden sides in which the organ is dressed. As if written yesterday words from the past tell snippets of playful times and young love. ‘Olca. Steiner 1890’ beautifully designed can be found on one side. I wonder if writers of these flippant messages would imagine them to be read by me 127 years later…