With a religious pilgrimage of the magnitude of St. Parascheva Day (which I wrote about previously), you can probably imagine that the Romanian government would be eager to capitalize on having a million extra people (read: shoppers!) in the city. And while I don't know the history of how Iasi Days evolved (though I could make an educated guess that gradually over time it grew and expanded and included more days and events), today it is a two week festival that includes streets shut down for dozens of carnival rides, concerts, fireworks, backgammon and fencing tournaments, art exhibits, and more food and fur stands than you can shake a stick at.
Being the eager explorer that I am, I spent several hours one day investigating the many offerings of the festival. I didn't plan well enough to see the various exhibits scattered around the city, but I did walk all around the center of town where the majority of the action was. Including the big festival of food. I love this picture because it captures how gray it is here for a lot of the fall, the block apartment buildings that are EVERYWHERE, and the smoke rising from all the grills. Not to mention all the awesome Romanian studs in black leather jackets:
All of my favorite Romanian Celebration/Festival treats were there for the eating- I had only to choose WHICH of the dozen vendors I wanted to try. They're real big on meat here, as you could tell by walking by places like this:
But I went with the tried-and-true mici, basically the Romanian version of a hot dog... made at picnics in summer, some kind of strange mystery meat that you feel happier not knowing what it actually is, eaten with mustard. I don't know what they do to make mustard here, but it's way better than anything I've eaten in America:
Also in abundance was corn on the cob, but thankfully I had been warned that it's more like what we would call field corn than sweet corn, so I didn't venture into that arena:
Plenty of cheese for sale as well:
And last but certainly not least was kurtos, short for kurtos kalacs, a traditional Hungarian dessert that is oh so delicious. I have written about my love of it here, and I will add another accolade to this tasty treat. I literally saw two dozen or more stands selling these all around the city. I was not disappointed in my decision to eat a whole one by myself (I didn't buy from this person- these are REALLY big):
Then I moved on to the maze of shops. I had heard rumors of the amount of shops selling fur during Iasi Days, and people certainly weren't exaggerating. Stall after stall of fur fur fur! Now I understand where everyone gets their winter coats and hats! Seriously, it was unreal. Every color, cut, and creature could be found. Also a lot of leather-fur combinations. Yes in the same item of clothing.
I particularly enjoyed seeing all the hats for men- hundreds of them in one place! I love love love the hats the old men wear in the winter, and to see so many in one place was a little bit of awesome. I wonder if I could ever convince my dad to wear one? I think he'd totally rock it. I particularly liked this stall, with an excellent (and creative) system of displaying the hats:
There were also oodles of shops selling jewelry and all manner of other hand-crafted (or not) goodies. They were mostly lining a major street with stalls side by side by side for a quarter mile and a 3-foot wide sidewalk with oodles of people shuffling every which way. I definitely was very overwhelmed with this madness and didn't have the presence of mind to take any pictures. But at the end of the day I went home with full tummy, a cute bracelet/ring combo and uber traditional (and warm!) slippers:
And even though I didn't go back out that night for the fireworks, I certainly heard them from my apartment and smiled as I wore my nice new warm slippers and finished my kurtos.