CIMITIRUL VESEL and KOSICE, SLOVAKIA – SEPT. 18
Today got off to a very interesting start at who knows when. Let me set the stage for you: it had been a relatively early night on Day 7, and the beds were reasonably comfortable. I had no reason to suspect that anything odd would happen, and so peacefully I fell into a deep sleep that can only be associated with a full day of traveling and exploring. All of a sudden and out of nowhere I am awoken by a loud scream coming from the bed next to mine. I may have been beyond groggy, but my initial thought is holy shit did someone break into our room? I look over at Shanna and notice that she completely shot out of bed. Honestly it looked just like one of those movies where someone is supposedly dead but when the person leans in to feel for a pulse or start an autopsy the body shoots up completely awake. It was simultaneously the funniest and scariest moment. On the one hand the visual was just so ridiculous that I couldn’t help but laugh, but on the other hand I was scared shitless thinking someone else might be in our room. Thankfully (for me at least) it turned out that it was just a nightmare. As I am writing this I’m worried that I am not completely conveying just how funny this was; I feel like I am sounding a tad heartless towards Shanna, but I would like to emphasize that she found this just as funny as I did. Her only worry was that she woke me up, but then we just kept laughing about it. And for the record she gave me the okay to share this story with everyone!
Okay, now for the travel portion of the day, and the part I suspect you are most interested in. Our first stop for the day was in this incredible cemetery, Cimitirul Vesel, in the Maramures region. It is a small church that has only recently become something of a tourist attraction, and it was definitely worth the stop. Essentially every single one of the tombstones in the graveyard are decorated and painted. Each one has two images one depicting what the person did with their life and the other showing how they died, and then a rather large–for a tombstone–paragraph detailing the story of that person’s life.
*click on the slideshow to read my full captions
Stan Ioan Patras was the initial creator of these original tombstones. He was a local artist and before he died he made around 700 tombstones. I highly recommend looking this place up online and reading through some of the different images and inscriptions; they are really pretty funny.
The final stop of the day was Kosice in Slovakia. Sadly we got in pretty late, but we still got to explore the incredibly cute old town. Our hotel was perfectly situated dead center in the old town. The main night attraction in Kosice is their singing fountain. When we first got there they were playing an orchestral version of The Circle of Life from The Lion King. At first I thought this was the main event, but once the clock hit 8:00 the bells hidden away in the trees started to ring. I felt very spoiled/privileged seeing this fountain because as beautiful as it was I couldn’t help but go meh. After the fountain at The Bellagio and the one in Barcelona, this one just couldn’t compare.
While seeing the fountain was definitely a tourist attraction, the most touristy thing we did–maybe even of the whole trip so far–was run around like lunatics around the Zodiac Fountain. Apparently, or at least according to Piotr, you are supposed to find your zodiac sign’s plaque on the fountain, rub it, and then run around the fountain three times clockwise in order to make your wish come true. I’m not totally convinced that Piotr didn’t just make it up in order to laugh at us silly tourists 😜 Sadly because it was night time I didn’t get a good shot of this fountain.
We then stopped at what is supposedly the best dessert shop in Kosice. Whether it is actually the best I can’t say, but the dessert I got was amazing. It was a blackberry panna cotta with a pretty chocolate lattice on the outside. A delicious way to end my day!