Dana Mladin

Fell in love with an alley…

Reading Time: 19 minutes

I pretty much don’t know the Danube Delta. I can count on the fingers of one hand the times I got here.

The first time, when I was 9 years old. For the film “The Meeting”, directed by Sergiu Nicolaescu. I have no idea what arm I was on. All I know is that I filmed in a bar J.

Years later, I hosted a show in Sulina, starring the band ASIA.

Some time ago I returned to Delta in a teambuilding, with the Next Star team from Antena 1 television.

And now, in the summer of 2020, I came here again, with work.

So I told you, one hand is enough in counting my visits to the Delta.

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SFANTU GHEORGHE

Beyond the luxury of accommodation, beyond the smell of the sea (here we go, I am in a poetry mood), beyond the landscapes perfect for a photographic exhibition, in Sfantu Gheorghe I fell in love with… a village street!

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It’s quite a sensation, man, to cross the village on a fine sand street, a sand worthy of a rich Mamaia beach…

And the side streets also reveal their unaltered charm. (That’s if you ignore the small sidewalk).

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I keep thinking what a happy childhood the children here had and still have. All they need is buckets, shovels and sand molds to make some beautiful, inedible cakes J.

HOW TO GET TO SFANTU GHEORGE

Access to the town is only on water. That’s how our gang from work arrived here, taking the motor boats from Murighiol, where we abandoned our cars in a parking lot that cost us 20 lei a day (~4 euros).

It took us about 50 minutes to get here, on the fast route, a first contact with Delta, on wide channels.

Speaking of transportation: while I was in Sfantu Gheorghe, I don’t think I saw more than 3 cars on the streets. I was told that the cars are brought by boat, ferry or as it is called here… wait, I found out: it is called a barge.

WHAT TO DO IN SFANTU GHEORGHE

Definitely, you can fish. If you do not come with your clever tools, you can rent some from here. And, if you don’t want worms and other creatures to stick in the hook, take in a napkin the polenta they brought together with your fish brine for dinner…

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You can take boat trips on the canals – a “must”, in my opinion!

The village is full of posters/banners/plaques put on people’s house walls or fences, with offers for boat trips. And the resorts have offers for their customers.

There are routes often taken by boatmen, long canals, wide lakes, large channels on which you catch speed and… My God, wait, we were about to reach Ukraine J.

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Luckly there was the scarecrow… or rather the scare-pelicans and cormorants. The truth is that I, the swan that I am J, was scared of this tree in the middle of the water, dressed in a fishnet.

You can’t get bored with the scenery. And, even if you have been going on the same canal for some time and you feel kind of sleepy, a bird suddenly jumps out of the bushes, cutting the path of the boat or, worse, a hornet wakes you up… F*%&k, that hurts!!!

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I didn’t get to the famous Letea forest yet, but we found wild horses here as well. Or semi-wild, as they told me.

On our way through the wilderness of the Delta, we came across an abandoned campsite.

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You can’t imagine how wide it is! A small town in the middle of the Delta! With many colorful houses, all with a bathroom. God, who left it become such a ruin???

“It’s Vântu’s” (a controversial businessman) – the boatman tells us. Ok, let’s have the wind blow from behind and get out of here, because I can feel a sea of anger.

It is better for us to be excited like children in every creature seen through the reeds, in the air, through the water or on the sand.

Cormorants, egrets, ducks, seagulls, pelicans and… that is all, this is where my knowledge stops. Don’t ask me about others.

The boat takes a “less touristy” route: a very narrow canal, cut through a green reed forest. You’re on for some strong sensations, if the boatman of the boat you are in is less experienced: stuck in the reeds, let’s push down the boat, things like that, nothing serious… And anyway, what happens in the reeds, stays in the reeds J.

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The thing is, while some are trying their best, others are taking a wild selfie hihi.

We finally went out of the reeds and returned on a kind of highway of the Delta…

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On the boat trip you can see herds of cattle and horses that stay on stretches of sand. You don’t know whose they are, if they belong to anyone, they seem lost on the edge of a canal, fighting the hornets.

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“Do you know why they go into the water?” – uncle Marcel, an old boatman, who is also our guide, asks us. “Because it’s the only way to get rid of the hornets.”

We find out that this is how it is here, the animals are left free to wander. So free that the gates of resorts and guesthouses have a clear announcement for tourists:

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Pretty please, lock the gate at night, otherwise the cattle will get to the yard.

All right… What else can you do here?

You can go sunbathing at the Black Sea.

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Nothing is arranged here, but the stretch of the beach and the extremely fine sand are strong points!

So that you know, from the Green Village resort to the beach you walk 20-30 minutes, depending on how fast you go and how much you stop to admire the landscape.

There is some sort of transportation, that takes people from time to time, but I didn’t know when the “from time to time” is, so I took it on foot, through the sand, among the trees, bumping into a suspicious donkey, some cows grazing and storks. And into the local police, who was patrolling in a holiday rhythm.

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Here you can sit freely in the sun. The beach is huge and you have the freedom to choose a “plot” as big as a kingdom, over which to rule.

Man, to be honest, the sea water doesn’t look tempting at all to me, however, I see people swimming and bathing enthusiastically.

If you are dehydrated, at the entrance to the beach there are two bars. And some ecological toilets, in case you want to splash your… toes. That is if you did not take advantage of the moments spent in the sea water J.

THE PLACE WHERE THE DANUBE MEETS THE BLACK SEA

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If you keep it straight along the beach, walking through the water or on the sand full of shells perfect for necklaces, in about 20 minutes you will reach the point where the Danube flows into the Black Sea!

Don’t expect the place to be marked in any way, but you can’t miss it either. You reach the “corner”, where the beach turns to the right and you can see how the Danube makes its way.

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view from the Danube towards the Black Sea

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It’s a wild, deserted place (at least now, at sunset), with a quiet sea that doesn’t fit in my head with what the waiter in the restaurant told us yesterday: because of the currents in the Sea and the whirlpools in the Danube, this place is extremely dangerous!!! Even experienced swimmers can get killed here. The boy told us how groups of tourists would come to them, they would go to see the place and take a bath and then fewer would come back… Brrr, horrible!

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THE TOWN OF SFANTU GHEORGHE. WHAT I FOUND OUT AND WHAT I SAW…

Sfântu Gheorghe has a population of less than 800 inhabitants. Romanians, Lipovenians, Ukrainians – the internet says. Cossacks, not Ukrainians, a local man corrects me… And he tells me there are no more than 600 inhabitants nowadays.

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The main occupations of these people are fishing and reed harvesting – used to build fence and roofs. “We are fishermen, not rod fishermen”, the locals say.

Children? There are only about 45 of them. Who go to the village to kindergarten and then to school up to the eighth form.

Besides the school, there are a library & museum, which were closed every time I passed by the building. So I can’t really say anything about them.

The military unit in the area seems just as closed. While I was here, I did not see any sign of a soldier inside. Maybe the COVID caught them all at home, on leave…

For shopping enthusiasts, there is a small (super)market in Sfantu Gheorghe. Good for a fast buying of the necessary things. Not too many, as they have higher prices here than the prices you are used to anyway. Those here live from what they produce in their own household, from what they fish and with the merchandize they buy from Tulcea, where the prices are lower.

By the way, come here with cash, for possible purchases like a fish, some caviar… There is no ATM in the village.

If you’re not crazy about fish – which would be a shame, judging by the variety you have here – go eat a pizza at the pizza house in the center. People recommend it as good and, judging by the crowds in the evening, it would seem so. I didn’t test it. I was set on taking walks.

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And during the walks downtown, I came across 2-storey communist blocks of flats. The only “landscape” that upset my eye in these places. So I decided to go back to my favorite streets and admire the houses on the road.

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The village is full of houses which, during the touristic season, definitely become, most of them, guest houses. One caught my attention:

Cheerful, colorful, adorned with all kinds of accessories, with owners that I found preparing dinner for their guests.

But I remain a fan of houses with reed. I mean I would love to have such a roof, even in Bucharest! Now I have where to get reeds. I only need the house J))).

Okay, if I won’t be able to get the house in Bucharest, then I will be the heir to the house of some happy people, who live here, in the Danube Delta, many months a year:

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A house on the water, a rod and fishing every day, a boat… What else could you need?

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I wake up to reality… After I do the “census” of the boats pulled ashore, I choose my favorite boat – which has become a pot for the vegetation of the Delta:

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When evening falls here, you have a frog concert. One more talented than the other! If you’re nervous, take some earplugs with you. If you’re not the nervous type, the concert may be the best sleeping pill. Well, that’s if mosquitoes won’t kill you!!!

If there’s something I don’t like in the Delta, the mosquitoes are that “something”. You’d think that you are protected at night by nets placed in windows, by pills or sprays, but what do you know, you are bitten during the day, and you feel like scratching with a hayfork!

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That is it, get ready and go home! We went to the fishery, we packed fish and caviar, we picked shells from the seashore (I would have taken some sand buckets too J), we threw away the Autan sprays finished in record time and we left.

The car was waiting for us in the parking lot at Murighiol. And, what do you know, the car broke on the road when we least expected, in a village from Tulcea… For a moment, I thought I would go home with Uncle Costel and his vehicle:

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“Come on, Cristina, let’s go!” – I hear the man shouting. I ask him amused why he named his donkey Cristina.

“Cristina is the woman on the sidewalk, the one with the bags. I call her to come for me to take her home” :)))))) And he leaves, without even telling me his donkey’s name!

We finally find a way to go home. How good would the Danube-Bucharest Channel and a motor boat be right now…

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