CHRISTMAS PAST

A great many Christmas’s over the past seventeen years have been spent travelling as in the Oil Business Xmas is just another day and my husband was expected to work, so I just had to go out and join him wherever he was.
Romania was an eye-opener for me. I flew to Bucharest where Pat met me and we stayed, briefly, at a hotel called The Hotel Concrete ( a lot of Bucharest is made of concrete!) and got up at 4am to drive to Craiova, Romania’s 6th largest city and capital of Dolj County, which is situated near the east bank of the river Jiu in central Oltenia in the far South West. The landscape is spectacular, heavily forested with chestnut and oak trees in the mountains and interspersed with beautiful villages. The roads were interesting and about the width of our 4×4 hire car.  It was not unusual to meet an oxen pulling a cart, complete with a sofa on the back and most of the family on board coming in the opposite direction!
We were booked into a small hotel in Craiova run by a marvellous family who invited us to spend Xmas Eve with them. This is their main celebration and consisted of about 30 relatives, no alcohol, and about 20 ways of doing pork – all of which we had to sample!  Only a couple of the younger girls spoke some English and Romanian is extremely difficult to understand, but it was an evening filled with laughter and even some Russian Orthodox monks singing deep throaty Russian Xmas carols!  The outstandingly amazing thing about industrial Craiova are its Xmas lights.  Over 200 trees are all lit up, so are the streets and the central square become a fairy-tale skating rink – I’ve never seen anything like it anywhere. The temperature hovered around -10 and it snowed endlessly !

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On Xmas day we had to visit a couple of rigs up in the mountains and then we took ourselves off to a local ski-resort which had an interesting road which a snowplough had cut in the side of the mountain and if you didn’t have a 4×4 like us you had to walk up (and then ski down! ). There was a hotel at the top serving tripe soup (- one look made me resort to bread and cheese )- but it’s a National dish if you want to try it ! On the way back all the local villagers were dressed in national dress and carrying baskets of food to one another houses trudging through the snow. It was like passing through another century and quite unforgettable.
I’ll tell you about other Christmas Days in my next Blog, but right now I want to wish you ALL a Happy pain free Xmas and hope Santa brings you everything you desire !

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