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 Sighișoara

Sighișoara is a city on the Târnava Mare River in Mureș County, Romania. Located in the historic region of Transylvania, Sighișoara has a population of 28,100

Wikipedia

 

Having the car played a part in our choice of accommodation.  This had both advantages - we could be out of the town centre - and disadvantages - hotels we chose must offer parking.

On seeing the hotel in Sighișoara my heart sank.  It was barely off the main road through town and the unattended entrance looked like the office of a travel agent.  What one star accommodation could possibly be out-back.  We couldn't raise anyone it was afterhours on a Sunday.  Eventually a young woman appeared.  Yes, I could park the car in their gated parking area at the end of the block.  I left the bags with Wendy.   When I got back and saw the room my spirits lifted.  It was large spotless and recently renovated with a modern on-suite and kitchenette. Even a rustic view out the back.

 

Room with a view
Sighișoara - our rustic view out the back

 

The old medieval fortified town was a few minutes walk away and in another direction, along the river, a bridge provided a fine picturesque outlook along the river and access to the large Orthodox Cathedral,  Biserica Sfânta Treime, with its dome looking more Roman than Greek.  But inside clearly Orthodox.

 

Biserica Sfânta Treime Biserica Sfânta Treime
 Biserica Sfânta Treime - Romanian Orthodox - the present faith of most Romanians

 

As in other towns in Transylvania the historic church above the old town is Saxon and now Lutheran.  To reach is is quite a climb and then you can descend through the very large graveyard, largely the burial place of German speaking residents, to judge by the inscriptions, all 'laid to rest' in expectation of the Second Coming.

 

 Sighișoara - Saxon (Lutheran) church on the hill
There remains a vey small Germanic minority - less than 1.5% of the population

 

The old town is fascinating.  It contains the only inhabited medieval fortress in Europe.  The structure now called the clock-tower was obviously once the 'keep'.  It protects the main gate, approached up a steep hill.  It's massive and is separately fortified, with gun embrasures on all four sides.  No use sneaking around behind.

 

 The clock-tower dominates the town
It stands over the main gate, in which an incautious enemy could be trapped and attacked from above

 

It's now the City History Museum and provides excellent panoramic views of the town. 

 


Sighișoara - from the clock-tower

 

Since the 17th century its featured a clock complete with iron shafts driving little carousels of rotating figures when it chimes. At different times it's served as a prison and there is a small torture museum in the dungeon cell dating back to the Holy Roman Empire no doubt, as have others we have seen around Europe.  During that period the law was draconian and was enforced by torture, dismemberments and threats of those punishments.

 

 Left: a small torture museum reminds visitors of the Holy Roman Empire
Right: another Capitoline Wolf statue with Romulus and Remus beneath her
Since the original five copies were given by Italy to the newly united country of Romania in 1921
they have multiplied to 25 - without the intercession of the Gods

 

As already mentioned in Brașov, the gates and towers along the town's defences were the responsibilities of the town's guilds.  In this case: butchers; tinsmiths;  tailors; shoemakers; rope-makers; tanners and furriers.  Most of these fortifications survive, providing additional medieval ambiance.

The old town quite compact and from a defensive point of view extremely well designed.  The walls skirt higher ground, the nose of a substantial ridge pointing to the river, around which are fertile flats that would have provided food and materials to feed the town's commerce. 

As we explored the area we kept coming across a bride and groom having their wedding photographs taken.  A little bit of local colour.

 

Local colour

 

From Sighișoara we drove to Sibiu (European capital of culture 2007) stopping at two more fortified Saxon churches and for lunch on the way.

 

 One church more rustic than the other - Şaroş pe Târnave and another at the heart of Mediaş - popular with tour busses

 

 

 


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Travel

Hong Kong and Shenzhen China

 

 

 

 

 

Following our Japan trip in May 2017 we all returned to Hong Kong, after which Craig and Sonia headed home and Wendy and I headed to Shenzhen in China. 

I have mentioned both these locations as a result of previous travels.  They form what is effectively a single conurbation divided by the Hong Kong/Mainland border and this line also divides the population economically and in terms of population density.

These days there is a great deal of two way traffic between the two.  It's very easy if one has the appropriate passes; and just a little less so for foreign tourists like us.  Australians don't need a visa to Hong Kong but do need one to go into China unless flying through and stopping at certain locations for less than 72 hours.  Getting a visa requires a visit to the Chinese consulate at home or sitting around in a reception room on the Hong Kong side of the border, for about an hour in a ticket-queue, waiting for a (less expensive) temporary visa to be issued.

With documents in hand it's no more difficult than walking from one metro platform to the next, a five minute walk, interrupted in this case by queues at the immigration desks.  Both metros are world class and very similar, with the metro on the Chinese side a little more modern. It's also considerably less expensive. From here you can also take a very fast train to Guangzhou (see our recent visit there on this website) and from there to other major cities in China. 

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Fiction, Recollections & News

The Meaning of Death

 

 

 

 

 

 

'I was recently restored to life after being dead for several hours' 

The truth of this statement depends on the changing and surprisingly imprecise meaning of the word: 'dead'. 

Until the middle of last century a medical person may well have declared me dead.  I was definitely dead by the rules of the day.  I lacked most of the essential 'vital signs' of a living person and the technology that sustained me in their absence was not yet perfected. 

I was no longer breathing; I had no heartbeat; I was limp and unconscious; and I failed to respond to stimuli, like being cut open (as in a post mortem examination) and having my heart sliced into.  Until the middle of the 20th century the next course would have been to call an undertaker; say some comforting words then dispose of my corpse: perhaps at sea if I was travelling (that might be nice); or it in a box in the ground; or by feeding my low-ash coffin into a furnace then collect the dust to deposit or scatter somewhere.

But today we set little store by a pulse or breathing as arbiters of life.  No more listening for a heartbeat or holding a feather to the nose. Now we need to know about the state of the brain and central nervous system.  According to the BMA: '{death} is generally taken to mean the irreversible loss of capacity for consciousness combined with the irreversible loss of capacity to breathe'.  In other words, returning from death depends on the potential of our brain and central nervous system to recover from whatever trauma or disease assails us.

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Opinions and Philosophy

Renewable Electricity

 

 

As the energy is essentially free, renewable electricity costs, like those of nuclear electricity, are almost entirely dependent on the up-front construction costs and the method of financing these.  Minimising the initial investment, relative to the expected energy yield, is critical to commercial viability.  But revenue is also dependent on when, and where, the energy can be delivered to meet the demand patterns of energy consumers.

For example, if it requires four times the capital investment in equipment to extract one megawatt hour (1 MWh) of useable electricity from sunlight, as compared to extracting it from wind, engineers need to find ways of quartering the cost of solar capture and conversion equipment; or increasing the energy converted to electricity fourfold; to make solar directly competitive.

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