Steaming through Maramures

Deep into the forest, a narrow-gauge train leads its way each morning through the county of Maramures, taking its passengers through out-of-this world scenery. A photographers’s dream, a once in a lifetime experience, call it whatever you like. One thing is certain – you definitely won’t find this anywhere else.

Up there, in the mountains of Maramures, the Viseu railroad was built along the Vaser’s river valley between 1930 – 1933, with the initial purpose of carrying the wood from the deep forests. Eventually, nowadays, it became one of the most important touristic attractions of the area. Stop reading for a second and try to imagine an ancient train, steaming its way across wooded cliffs, passing through endless tunnels which seem to separate different realities and taking you through breathtaking landscapes.

Viseul de Sus, because that’s where the train starts, is a small town located 60Km South of the Sighet city. Just like in the whole county of Maramures, here the history is written more on wood than on paper. Century old traditions are best kept in the form of wooden churches and amazing houses.

One who travels across this land, meets here the borderline between different cultures. Each Friday in the Viseu area is organized the weekly Fair, a good opportunity for several different communities to meet each other – Romanians, Germans, Ukrainians and Russians are gathered here every week.

People from all over the country come to this fair with food, clothes, tools or furniture. Quite a rush for a small town where the everyday „wake up” call is made by the horn of a 70 years old factory. Then, the same horn may be heard later, at noon, when it announces the end of the working day.

But let’s get back to the steam train…The narrow railway leads its way through the forest, for almost 40Km, through stunning walls of stone, mountain high trees and finally rests in the sunny meadows which they call stations: Novat, Cozia, Bardau, Botizu, Suliguli, Faina and Comanu.

From time to time, the tired railway engine stops on the Vaser’s river side and refuels with water.

It’s a good time for the mechanics and locals to also refuel with food, because the route to Faina will climb for more than 400m in altitude, among cliffs and brooks, for almost 5 hrs.

Unlike any other places where these trains can be found only in museums, in Maramures, Mocanita, because that’s the train’s name, will lead the traveler through fascinating landscapes, introducing him into a unique world that will be really hard to forget.

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