After she travelled in the Danube Delta, during our spring trial, we caught up with one of our guests, Giulia, and asked her about her experience, her impressions and memories from the vast wetland.
Based on what you knew of the Delta, what were your expectations before the trip? Were these met, frustrated, or exceeded?
I didn’t have any expectations, as I had never been in a comparable environment. Actually, I might have expected tons of mosquitoes which, thankfully, did not materialise. But it is impossible to imagine the lushness of the place before actually getting there, as well as the vastness of the river and the sense of being 100% cut off from the world; the sound of frogs croaking into the afternoon and the night; being woken up by cackling chickens; and the fantastically diverse and delicious food.
Do you feel like you know more about the area now, its ecology and culture?
I have learnt so much about an area of which I knew almost nothing about before! In terms of culture, with people speaking both Romanian and Ukrainian, and still greeting each other with a religious formulation linked to the Easter celebrations, although we visited almost a month after Easter. In terms of ecology, how the Delta was formed, how it is still in the process of being formed and how it is affected by human activity, as well as so many different kinds of plants and birds and fish, which I had only previously seen in nature documentaries! And in terms of the synergy between ecology and culture, it is fascinating to understand how residents have learnt throughout time to exploit and protect their natural environment, and how the Delta has determined their everyday strategies and customs.
What were local interactions like? What stood out in being hosted entirely by the local community?
Everybody is wonderfully nice and welcoming, starting with our guide Rezvan to our landlady Natalia – the best cook ever. She made sure we were fed morning, day, and night with delicious and extremely varied food, and took such good care of us. She showed us her garden and her friends’ and relatives’ gardens, so that we understood the link between the land and the food that she prepared. We were also able to follow from up close the 3-day long preparation for the yearly village celebration, in which she was strongly involved, cooking for hundreds of people of the village and of the surrounding communities and singing in the choir.
Is there a day or activity that you remember particularly fondly?
I will never forget the first day when, after a long drive from Bucharest, we were welcomed by Razvan on the boat and started the journey downstream. The vastness of the Danube (and it is only one of the three branches of the Danube!), the sheer volume of water, the vegetation on the two banks, with fishermen camps here and there, the multitude of birds flying above, and finally the sound of the Black Sea as one approaches Sf. Gheorghe – it is an unforgettable experience.
Would you come back and/or recommend this journey to a friend?
Absolutely. It is the most relaxing and informative holiday I have had in a really long while, and I would recommend it to anyone! Relaxing, because you are indeed at the end of the world, with its unusual sounds of wildlife and domesticated animals rocking you to sleep, no cars, walks on the dykes and on the beach, quiet rooms, flowered porch. Informative, because all you see is new, and everybody is happy to explain and talk about it, whether its horses neck-deep in canals grazing on algae, or fishing instruments on display at the local bar. So I would recommend it wholeheartedly to any curious friend who needs a break from the city and some time off.