The best thing ever – the „Before it’s too late” project in Romania
We started our first day in Bucharest with a walk to the school together with a group from Croatia. After a few months, we were finally able to talk in person and exchange the gifts with our project partners. After talking for a while, we were warmly welcomed by the school’s headmistress and all the groups had a chance to introduce themselves and each of us said a few words about ourselves. Then we also received some gifts, which were the canvas bags with the project logo, filled with numerous Romanian souvenirs, such as the bracelets in the colours of the Romanian flag. During the breakfast break, we had the opportunity to taste some cakes baked by the students and talk with the teachers and other project participants.
After the break, we were offered a tour of the more than 100-year-old school building. We learned about the history of the place and saw what the various classrooms looked like during the French, physics and computer science classes. Then the lecture „Pollution and waste sorting” began, during which we were introduced to the environmental situation in Romania and the local recycling methods. Next there was a lunch break, after which each partner group displayed 2 presentations entitled „Natural/national parks in my country” and „Examples of good practice of waste recycling in my school.” The first day passed in a pleasant atmosphere, we had a lot of time to get to know our project partners better and to learn about the numerous ways to counteract climate change on our planet.
We started the second day of the project with an early morning trip to the Comana Natural Park, where we participated in the “Rush Weaving” workshop at the Paper Mill Museum. We wove the beautiful rugs, which was a very interesting process that required manual skills. Each of us was delighted with his/her handicraft. Then the guide took us around the other buildings, where we could see the paper recycling process and how newspapers were printed in the 19th century. Finally, we ended up in the souvenir store with many handmade items.
We spent the rest of the forenoon admiring the park’s landscape, taking the boat ride and then taking the short trip on the mini train. After the break for lunch, in groups of three we took part in the game prepared specially for us. Our task was to find the answers to several questions, placed on the information boards in the park. We obtained a lot of interesting and useful information about the fauna and flora of the area. Our next task was to prepare the posters entitled „Protect Nature.” We had great ideas and each poster was unique. Then, using our posters, we took part in the so-called „flash mob,” that was dancing together to the song of our choice. We all had a great time doing it and returned to the Romanian capital in excellent moods.
In the morning, on the third day of the project, we went to the town of Sinaia, located in the Bucegi National Park. We were very excited about the journey. On arrival we were greeted by the beautiful landscape – the tall trees, dense bushes and fresh air. With the help of the 'Air Quality App’ we measured the air quality. The results surprised us positively. We have to admit that in such an environment, people regenerate both their mind and body wonderfully.
After a walk of several minutes, we arrived at Peleᶊ Castle. The building made a huge impression on us. The German architect, Wilhelm Doderer did a great job! Combined with the beautiful autumn scenery, the castle looked fabulous. We were very happy and relaxed, strolling in the palace gardens. We wanted to know the secrets of the place. Many events in history took place within its walls. We couldn’t wait to see the interiors. With the tickets in our hands and in good company, we followed the guide inside. What we saw was breathtaking – the decorations made with incredible attention to detail. The countless ornaments, paintings and objects. We visited many rooms: the bedrooms, living rooms, studies and studios; also the music room and the concert hall, which we really enjoyed as people fascinated by music. We learned that the first cinema hall in Romania was created in this residence. The museum is rich in numerous unique collections of, for example weapons and armour numbering more than 4,000 pieces, glass from many countries including Germany, the Czech Republic, Italy, Austria and France, silver and metal in the form of exhibits of high artistic and historical value. These are mainly the photo frames, plates, goblets or figurines featuring mythological, historical and pastoral scenes. The numerous clocks, numbering some 50 pieces, were mostly purchased by Charles I, who was renowned for his punctuality. About 800 stained glass windows depict both religious scenes (figures of saints, biblical events, but also inspired by the art of the Ottoman Empire) and secular scenes (portraits of ancestors, scenes from aristocratic life and fairy tales). And then there is a fantastic collection of sculptures with diverse themes filling the terraces and garden of the castle. The monumental fountain depicts the sea deity with two Satyrs, statues of Venus and pots of fruit. We personally liked the sculpture of Charles I best. It looks very majestic and wonderfully reflects the character of the residence.
We then ate lunch at the Bonaparte restaurant located near the palace. The decor and music created a pleasant atmosphere that encouraged us to eat and talk together. Full and in good spirits, we returned to the coach. We headed to Buşteni where our next destination was the Urlătoarea Waterfall. To get to it, we had to walk for about 45 minutes, during which we admired the beauty of the surrounding nature – the lush, colourful trees with the roots sticking out, the birds singing and the rays of the setting sun plus the wonderful views of the mountains. The whole thing filled us with a feeling of fulfilment, inner peace and determination to overcome difficulties. The physical effort allowed our minds to relax. Working together to achieve our goal brought us closer to the other project participants. Our relationships deepened. Finally, we reached the waterfall. The sound of the falling water, its splash and noise was very relaxing.
Overall, we think this was the most interesting day of the project. We gained some knowledge, met some new people, visited the beautiful places, improved our physical condition and strengthened our relationship with the environment and with each other.
We started the fourth day of the project in the morning with a visit to the waste sorting plant „S.C 3R GREEN SR. CHITILA.” Our guide told us about the rubbish recycling process there. We also learned that this sorting plant is one of the largest in Romania and will soon be the 2nd in Europe recycling solar panels. During our stay we were accompanied by an unpleasant smell, which, as it turned out later, was the result of the city’s citizens not sorting their rubbish correctly. From the group’s guide we also heard a few words about the origins of the company, as well as its future goals. The visit opened our eyes to the importance of sorting in the further stages of recycling.
Our second destination was the 'Drumul Taberei’ park. We were not able to fully explore it, but it made a positive impression on us right from the start. In addition to its neat aesthetics, it had many bins where rubbish could be sorted. One also cannot forget the car that stood at the entrance to the park and was placed in such a way so that the vegetation could have the chance to use it as a new habitat. We were particularly interested in this as an extraordinary way of reusing a used vehicle. In the park itself, we were tasked with measuring air quality and then went to the botanical garden. It consisted of 7 glazed buildings regulated differently by changes in temperature or humidity, allowing the spectacular plants to grow inside. We saw the succulents, citrus trees, giant ferns or palm trees. We could hardly believe that such rare and extraordinary plants were at our fingertips. There wasn’t a person who didn’t take at least one photo in this garden. All this bio diversion we were able to see will certainly allow us to appreciate and care for plants around us more in the future.
Our final destination was the National Museum of Natural History „Grigore Antipa” where we admired the wonders of nature. The museum itself can most accurately be described as large and rich in the exhibits, in particular, the skeletons and stuffed animals, which occupied most of the exhibition. However, one mustn’t forget the animals in formalin or the huge exhibition of dead insects which took on incredible shapes. Once the tour of the exhibition was over, many people bought the souvenirs and this was the end of the project on Day 4.
On the fifth day of our project, we met at the school to create the photo collages and summarise the air quality measurements we had made over the past few days. In groups, we reminisced about the time we spent together during our excursions and started a discussion about the impact of the environment on air quality. We identified the rubbish sorting plant, which we had gone to the day before, as the place with the most polluted air. On the other hand, we unanimously decided that the best air quality was experienced during the hike to the Urlătoarea Waterfall.
Another attraction of the day was a farewell party during which we presented our traditional national dances, which we then learned together. We had a lot of fun imitating the movements of the newly learnt dances, and during the breather breaks we chatted at the tables about all sorts of topics while having a good time. Unfortunately, our fun came to an end and it was time for a sad farewell, during which some even shed tears. It was difficult to say goodbye, but we will certainly remember this wonderful time for a long time.