The day we decided to move to Sibiu we were happy with the idea of being closer to nature. During our first weekend we had to chose between arranging our home and going and explore the forest, Dumbrava, that starts near the center of the Sibiu. For us it was not a difficult question. Right after breakfast we packed some food and diapers, of course, we dressed our baby in warm clothing, and put on a big smile as we made our way to the forest. We followed the same routine the following week and it was not long until we became excited to see more. We had heard about a place called Paltinis about 45 minutes outside of Sibiu in the mountains. A daily bus service from the city provides easy access to this area. It was during the first weekend of February we decided to go and explore Romania’s highest mountain resort.
When we got off the bus we realized that we hadn’t looked at a map to identify hiking trails that we would want to explore, or even where they started. “Oh, well”, we said, “we will find something!”. With that we started walking randomly off the road where the bus had dropped us off. Within a 100m we saw a sign that was pointing towards a trail carved through the forest. With the plan to turn back if it would be too difficult to hike or if it became uncomfortable for our baby, we decided to follow it in to the unknown forest. It was beautiful and the trees protected us from the bitter cold wind of winter in the mountains. We had no idea where the trail was leading but it did not seem to matter. After a steady decline the path started to climb up. We were excited hoping for a panoramic view of the mountains and valleys and we were not disappointed!
We arrived at an altitude where the forest abruptly changed in to a serene, white mountain face with a steep climb up. At that moment our phone rang. It was our family calling to congratulate us on our first wedding anniversary. I felt that discovering this trail and the serenity we found here was the gift we received from Paltinis. Since then we catch bus number 22 almost every Sunday when the weather is favourable. We have met some wonderful people who live or work in Paltinis and they are always thrilled to see our little one in the fresh mountain air. As we find and explore more trails we are always reminded of how blessed we are.
The weather is getting warmer and we are able to go further with the baby. On our last visit we decided to climb all the way up to a mountain peak, which only Urooj had climbed alone earlier this year . I am talking about the Batrana peak that sits at over 1910 meters altitude. The tough hike up is worth the effort and the wonderful view of the Cindrel range well deserved. After arriving at the peak we enjoyed a little picnic and while looking out at the beautiful landscape around us, we realized it was our baby’s six month anniversary! I felt as if it was a gift for my daughter to be up there experiencing that soothing energy of the mountains on a warm sunny day. Truly nature is a living being, I feel with its own heart and will and a lot to offer to us.
Paltinis has witnessed many beautiful memories. For Romanians, Paltinis is the proof that culture can survive in the most harshest of environments. In the ’70s the philosopher Constantin Noica ran a school here inspired by the Platonic academy. For almost ten years people participated at seminars and open discussions about fundamental texts and modern philosophy. During the communist years when the regime had imprisoned the freedom to think, in times when the right to express your ideas was actually a dream, Noica led what he called, “resistance through culture” right there in Paltinis.
If this place would be a person it would be a kind, welcoming, generous, and loyal one. It would be a friend that always makes you feel you are special. But then again, these hills are alive and so what stops me from considering them my friends?