With a steam engine train on the Valley of river Vaser, Maramureș

by Victor Grigore, Webphoto.ro

The good old countryside of a traditional village at the foot of the mountain! Nothing fancy, just the life as it seemed to be a century  ago. Or for eternity, if you ignore the railroad tracks.

Maramureș is a special mountainous region of northern Romania, distinct in the larger area of Transylvania. It’s not easy to access from the major cities of the country, but definitely worth it. The name of the town where you can enjoy a tourist train ride is Vișeul de Sus. Which is on the national road leading to the larger city of Sighetul Marmației, almost on the border with Ukraine. In the other direction, the road leads through Carpathians to the other historic and forested region of Bucovina.

Once arrived in Vișeul de Sus, anyone can guide you to the train station, on number 5 Cerbului Street. Be sure to check the schedule online for departures. Grab your ticket an hop on a slow ride with the tiny steamer!

The landscape is calm and rural, following a tiny river called Vaser. The train line was constructed for lumberjacks working higher in the mountain, who would return to the village only once a week or from time to time. You can still see the tradition of gathering hay in haystacks for cattle or even peasants mowing the grass with a long rip. May also see peasants riding in horse carts along the river, even on horseback or using the same line for a small gas trolley.

Maramureș is like a natural amphitheater made by mountains, which made it impossible to conquer by numerous foreign powers who captured the country. So many traditions maintained along with a specific way of speaking Romanian. Along the road you can even see a plaque commemorating the ten locals killed trying to flee a work camp during Hungarian occupation in world war two.

After entering the EU in 2007, a lot of locals from Maramureș have left to work in Western countries. Sometimes with an entire family or groups of neighbors. They kept the dream of returning to their wonderful homeland, proven by the numerous big houses they built with the money earned abroad.

Unfortunately, this development is done by abandoning traditional wooden architecture in favor of brick and mortar, less picturesque mansions. An understanding of the value of tradition, at least for tourist purpose, is now acquired and some guesthouses offer folkloric evenings, displaying local costumes and music.

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