Celebrating the 1st in Alba Iulia

Of December, that is.

Although we didn’t get a long week for Thanksgiving, we did have a day off the next Friday in honor of Romania’s national day on December 1st.  This holiday celebrates the formal unification of Transylvania (as well as the provinces Banat, Bucovina, and Bessarabia) with the Romanian Kingdom in 1918.  The representatives met and signed the unifying documents in Alba Iulia so in honor of that there is a large celebration in the city every year.  This celebration generally includes a military parade but unfortunately, because of budget cuts, there would be no tanks rolling through the streets in 2012.  With Alba Iulia only an hour and a half from Hunedoara, Nick and I decided to spend the day there anyway and took an early morning bus to meet up with friends and celebrate Romania’s unification in the city in which it took place.

Students waving their flags in honor of the 1st

Students waving their flags in honor of the 1st

One of the many volumes in which the unification was made official

One of the many volumes in which the unification was made official

Once we were all together in Alba, we set off on the most important of missions: Gigi covrigi.  Covrigi (pretzels) are a staple snack here and after nearly two years in-country, we consider ourselves to be covrigi connoisseurs.  Gigi’s is the best and since they aren’t in every city, it’s a must stop when you find one.  Not only are their pretzels soft, fresh, and tasty, they also have a great covridog, a hotdog wrapped in pretzel dough and sometimes stuffed with cheese.  Yum!

Covrigi in hand, we were ready to enter the fortress, which was first used as a military defensive position by the Romans and then transformed into a baroque fortress by the Habsburgs.  The fortress looks like a seven pointed star from above and has been recently renovated.  We were lucky enough to meet up with Jovanka’s friend who gave us a tour of the fortress and hooked us up with vin fiert (mulled wine) and cool Rotary Club mugs.

Part of the Fortress

Part of the Fortress

Creating the Romanian flag with our pants, coat, and purse

Creating the Romanian flag with our pants, coat, and purse

Meg and Jovanka listening intently to our guide

Meg and Jovanka listening intently to our guide

Some of the main events of the day were a wreath laying ceremony, a performance by the military band, parading Habsburgs, a canon firing demonstration, and a plethora of tents serving grilled meats and vin fiert.  We also toured the grounds of the fortress, even visiting a very small torture chamber.

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Wreath Laying Ceremony

The Military Band

The Military Band

A jovial Habsburg

A jovial Habsburg

Canon Fire

Canon Fire!

Torture Chamber

Torture Chamber

It was a fun day but even with relatively good weather and copious amounts of mulled wine, we were all cold and tired by the afternoon.  Nick and I went back to Hunedoara that evening on a packed train across from two gentlemen who had just returned from a carrier pigeon fair in Târgu Mureş.  Needless to say, it was quite the interesting day.

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Alba Iulia

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