I was very surprised to read on the news late last night that the Mayor of Sibiu, Klaus Iohannis, had beaten Prime Minister Victor Ponta in the Romanian presidential election. Ponta had won the first round, in which there were 14 candidates, and was tipped in the opinion polls to beat Iohannis in the subsequent two-candidate run-off.
Sibiu was where I did a two-week summer language course last year, through the Rolang School. The city was once part of the Austro-Hungarian empire, and was one of the fortified Saxons towns on the south-eastern frontier (the goal being to halt any Ottoman invasion). Its German name was Hermannstadt, and the German influence is still there, although it has been diluted significantly, as the German community had to put up with a lot of persecution and oppression under the communist regime, and many left when they could. Klaus Iohannis himself is an ethnic German.
When I was there, the locals told me that Sibiu was widely regarded as the most well-run and least corrupt city in Romania, and they said, if only the rulers of Sibiu could rule the country too, but you never know whether that is just local boastful talk, exaggeration or naivety. Well, now they have got their wish, to a limited extent – how much can one man change an entrenched political system? Good luck to him.
According to news reports, in Romania, the president is in charge of foreign policy and defence, and names key prosecutors and the chiefs of intelligence services.
Anyway, the news coverage made me feel nostalgic and I’ve plucked out some of my pics of Sibiu to hopefully inspire you. Summer language courses, 2015, anyone?
Sibiu is a festive place. While I was there, it hosted a very colourful international dance festival, followed shortly after by an international Gothic rock festival, headlined by bands from Germany and Scandinavia. Check out some of the vibes.
I don’t know which band this guy plays in – it was one of the “filler” Romanian acts early in the day – but he was a bloody good guitarist and his band was excellent (they had a female lead singer who also played keyboards). If you are out there, Mr Guitarist, send me a CD!
Just outside Sibiu at Dumbrava is the ASTRA National Museum complex, the country’s largest open air museum, where you can see traditional houses and artifacts from over the country. Plus some folkloric singers and dancers, if you are lucky.