An artistic approach to open spaces in Romania

Bucharest without Sun

We get on the trolley bus to change our accomodation to the other side of the town. Riding on the bus is fine if you have time. Traffic came over this town like a wave, cars are everywhere. The structure of Bucharest is incredible. One-store housing pavilions from the turn of the last century in the middle of huge gardens give the impression of a villa rustica. They are surrounded by high housing blocks and office building. The town is full of construction sides. Gara du Nord is not the best place to rest for three women.

We meet Ioana at and the speed of our preambulations has to adapt to Bucharest conditions. I do not remember how many kilometres we made across the town but it was much. Ioana knows Bucharest very well. We get a quick summary of the face revolution, pass construction sites and monuments down to Casa Poporului. We find a piece of  wilderness behind this vacuum building. Finally a place to take a breath.

Next destination: Bucharest

Open Spaces in Apold

We are leaving Târgu Mureş early in the morning in a crowded minibus. Nobody thinks that we are going to fit in this bus. But we are in. Again a wonderful sunny day and we crawl across the Transylvanian highlands. Foggy meadows. The peaked towers of Sighişoara appear in the valley. A taxi takes us further south to the fortified church of Apold.

We meet with Marlen Hoesselbarth and Leonie Rhode who have been living and working in the village for some time now. Their idea is to revive the open spaces in and around the fortified church together with the local people. The church once belonged to the German protestant community of the village. But after the 1989 revolution most Germans left the area so that the building is out of function today, except for a monthly service. Renovation is going on slowly but stable and sensible.

Transage is doing a complex work here. How to bring back a piece of the village landscape to a community to which it had never belonged before? We spend some time in the sun waiting for another minibus to bring us back from here. Children. Horses. Bicycles. This place takes its time. It’s so different. Tonight be will be in Bucharest.

If you want to learn more about the project, please contact Transage

Pro Europa and a Sleeping River

Ilona seems to know everybody in this town so we get a date with Smaranda Enache who is a local politician for Liga Pro Europa. Amongst other things her party is active in establishing intercultural dialogue among the ethnic groups. We only have an hour with her but each of her sentences opens a new story. Its about the hope for democracy after 1989. The founding of the party at this very early stage. Her endless fights against visible and invisible frontiers, both in policy and in society as a whole. Its all about building up mutual trust, confidence, tolerance, citizenship. The urgent need for decentralising Romania. Transsylvania is a multicultural region. Can this regional identity help bridging the ethnic gaps?

In the afternoon we start to look for the river. Mureş. A canal seems to be a good point to start. We follow. Passing the railway tracks, small houses, the hippodrom. The river still hides behind its banks. There it is. But it seems to have no flow.

Arriving in Târgu Mureş

Again a sunny autumn day when we arrive in the middle of Transsylvania at noon. How do you explain a cab driver that the street you are looking for is named after a Romanian poet if nobody speaks each other’s language? At least we know now that Eugene Ionesco does not have a street in Târgu Mureş. But Mihai Eminescu has. So now we know two Romanian writers and many non-poet streets in Târgu Mureş.

Ilona receives us in her home for elderly people in Eminescu 28 and we are invited to stay, not forever but at least for two nights. So we enter her world of paintings and elderly people. And plants. Who is watering the 200 plant pots in this house?

A first afternoon talk with Ilona. It’s the Hungarian perspective we get to now first. Jumping through Transsylvanian, Romanian and personal history. Suppression against Hungarians during Communism. Transsylvania is a multicultural region. The clash between Romanians and ethnic Hungarians on the 19th of March 1990. Loosing trust. And today? Ilona is spreading seeds among the poorest.

We spend the next hours with a protestant priest, Lorincz Istvan. Walking around with Lorincz is a great pleasure, its like arriving at the heart of town. Going up to the fortification and we stumble into the choir practice at the old Gothic church. They sing Psalm 1 for us. A Hungarian flag next to the organ is confusing. There seems to be a lot of history still to be written.

It is impossible to separate policy from public space in this town. Different cultural symbols are coming together - Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox churches, Hungarian and Romanian heroes, poets, mayors, an historical urban fabric mixed with socialist urbanism. All cultures left their traces. A city is meant to embrace them all. But how do the people perceive it? Is there a unifying identity beyond?

We return back to our cosy beds in the home for elderly people and sleep between 200 flower pots.

Our next Destination: Târgu Mureş

Timişoara - A Walk at the Edge of the City

Equipped with pink tickets we take bus number 15 to the edge of the city on Monday morning. Traffic jam, Botanical garden, Iulius Mall, cemeteries, housing blocks, last stop. Coco picks us up in the morning sun and we meet up with Alex, Raluka and Cristi.

Entering the quarter and we stop at a garden with flowers and many cats. Healthy cats with shiny hair. The old woman is very proud of her flowers. But who will take it over? Human scale, we feel comfortable here at the edge of Timişoara.

We continue to the North beyond the city border. Many new big houses here, fences, dogs, expensive cars, conifers. Endless. Is this individualism? Lonely beyond the the city. So different.

We return to the city and pass at the landscape architecture department.

Back into town to the flower leave atelier. You will make it.

A Sunday Walk in Timişoara

Walking in Timişoara on a sunny Sunday. We reach the historical center from the North Station and meet our friends in front of the opera house. Alex and Coco. Children feeding the pigeons like in Venice. A group of old men on their bench talking about policy like on a Greek agora.

We then head on to the orthodox cathedral located between the old town and the green belt along the Bega canal. Such a relaxed atmosphere all around, few people a this early hour but a wonderful light through the autumn leaves. We get down to the canal and walk along the water. This is the green and blue backbone of the city. Would be nice to take a boat, get down the river, leave the city, pass the flat landscape and continue down to Serbia, to the Danube. But no boat today, maybe the next time.

We can not pass further so we have to get up to cross the street. The chicken say hello to us. There are chicken at the edge of the road. Shouldn’t they be here? But this question does not matter any more. They have conquered their place. Assertive chicken pick the traffic.

Real chicken look like sheep and they live in the swimming pool. A real agave imitation is as real as a real agave. Even if you do not want to like it. Benches.

Benches along the Bega canal. Have you ever seen so many benches before? Forgotten rose gardens. Old willows. Benches. Fishermen. But the fishermen will not sit on the benches. Maybe the fish will do later.

Siesta time. Alex and me continue our walk to the factory area. An area waiting for redevelopment. Who will have the power to transform this? Hard to imagine. Piata Traian. Sleeping beauty with a love angel on the roof. Back to our friends along the canal.

Fife landscape architects talking about their future plans.

Finishing the day on a wine festival. Horses fly with two legs. Smoke and corns. Sunset.

Timişoara - Our first Destination

Starting our journey in Budapest

Starting our journey in Budapest

Starting from Berlin and nearby Stuttgart we will meet on Saturday 14th of October in Budapest and then continue by train down to Timisoara.