I boarded Lufthansa Airlines from LAX with a certain giddiness and anticipation. I was ready for a long flight over the U.S., Canada, Iceland, the Northern Sea and Germany – my final destination being Bucharest (or Bucuresti), the capital of Romania.
Romania’s southeastern European location holds thousands of years of history, culture and tradition. I had to decide where my visit would take me this time: the Black Sea and its luxury resorts, the beautiful Carpathian Mountains with cozy cottages and hotels, a cruise along the Danube River and the Danube Delta, Transylvania and its relentless Dracula and his castle, the cultural life of the major cities, or the Eastern Orthodox monasteries of Moldavia.
I chose a spiritual journey to the ancient Moldavian monasteries: Arbore Monastery (built in 1503), Humor (1530), Moldovita (1532), Patrauti Monastery (1487), Suceava (1522), Voronet (1487) and Sucevita (1583). Each monastery has its own personality and architectural style. Outdoor and indoor frescoes depicting religious scenes fascinate the eyes and minds of tourists.
Entering the church, you’re inclined to approach solemnly and humbly. Passing two separate stands that hold hundreds of thin yellow candles lit for the souls of the departed, you head slowly towards the altar, mesmerized by Byzantine-influenced icons and priests in holy attire.
Later in the journey, I had the unique experience of dining with the nuns at a long wooden table – so long it felt like one could unroll a scroll of the entire history of Christian religion. As I ate the meal the nuns cooked, I peeked a little at their faces: so much peace and purity of the soul…so much resembling the icons with no lines of worries…as if time had stopped indefinitely.