Flinn Scholars

On the Road 2009: Day Eleven

June 4, 2009

By Flinn Foundation

We left Gyula early this morning after a quick breakfast at the Romanian high school. We had a small concern at the Romanian border because of the swine flu, which detained us briefly but it was otherwise uneventful.

Upon entering Romania, we were greeted by far-reaching flatlands not all too dissimilar from Kansas. It had a few spatterings of houses but mostly large flocks of sheep, free-roaming chickens, and large patches of wildflowers. However, it wasn’t too ling before we came upon the first sign of real civilization – a Pepsi-Cola sign.

It was a bumpy ride through the otherwise flat land until we reached Arad, a city with impressive buildings and bustling people in its own right. Perhaps the most noticeable difference between Hungary and Romania was the amount of semi-comprehensible road signs. With its part romance-language base, Romanian seems much more familliar than the multi-consonant Hungarian language.

Then it was back to the countryside and the flatlands, where the clouds had rolled in. Soon after leaving Arad, the flatlands gave way to rolling hills. Timisoara, our destination for the day, was set just a little ways into the hills. We arrived right on time and ate lunch at the hotel. It was a hearty meat soup with breaded chicken and mashed potatoes–very tasty after the long drive.

From the hotel, we made our way to the memorial museum for the 1989 revolution in Timisoara, where we were met by Dr. Traian Orban, a survivor from the revolution. He showed us into the chapel, where artists had painted several reliogous icons to demonstrate the unifying effect of the revolution. He then led us upstairs where he showed us a film about the revolution, one about Ceaucescu, and one about the museum and monuments dedicated to the victims and the ideals. After the films, he shared with us his personal experience and the reason he believed that this museum was so important. After walking around and looking at all of the pictures and items that they had collected, I can definitely say that I agree with and appreciate his dedication to the museum.

It is for that reason that I was so trouble to hear that the meseum is in danger of being displaced. It seems that the one place it can really connect with people is the one place that would rather have it forgotten. He hoped that we would do our best to try to inform others about this incredible museum and the astounding impact it has on visitors.  It would be a great shame to have such a powerful piece of history ignored.

After the museum, we were given a brief tour of the city by a medieval-history graduate. She pointed out the key features of the city’s two main squares and the diverse churches that surounded them. We went in to a very ornate Eastern Orthodox church and admired the intricacies of the metal work. She also pointed out the bullet holes that were left over from the revolution. We also went to see where she worked at a dig in the city that had found the remains of a castle tower–what was now the oldest known structure in the city.

We then had a brief orientation to Romania before we were sent off on our own for the evening.  My evening along with a few other Flinns included a terrific dinner at a cheap, yet stylish Italian restaurant along with some gelatto afterwards.

All in all, a fantastic day!