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My latest trip ended up being a slightly odd combination of countries. I had the privilege of traveling with a large multi-national men’s choir for two weeks in Romania, made up of singers from the US, Romania, Spain, Ukraine, Moldova, and South Africa. The trip began on a Monday so a small group of us took the opportunity to visit Istanbul for the weekend on the way there.

Istanbul was an amazing cultural experience. We could really see the clash of east and west there! And there were so many people everywhere always busy! I’m really not sure when they slept–none of the shops closed until midnight, after which the shopkeepers continued loudly talking for at least another hour. Then the call to prayer goes off from mosques all over the city at 5:45am. We had an all day tour on Sunday there, including my first visit to Asia, just across the Bosporus from our hotel, a boat tour of the Bosporus, Dolmabace Palace, Hagia Sophia, Spice Bazaar, and the Basilica Cistern. Around sunset we visited the Hippodrome which houses the oldest object I’ve ever seen, an Egyptian obelisk dating to 1450 BC. Monday morning we enjoyed the Grand Bazaar for a few hours, then flew up to Bucharest.

Once in Romania, we of course did a lot of rehearsing and singing, but also got to see many amazing sights. We spent several hours in Sighasoara, the traditional birthplace of Dracula and a beautiful Transylvanian town. Our day off was in Sibiu, another amazing town where we enjoyed an open air historical museum and many other sights.

Another amazing opportunity we had as singers was to sing in two Roman Catholic Cathedrals. The first one in Timisoara was only about 250 years old but built in Austrian style, absolutely stunning inside and of course amazing acoustics. The second cathedral though was the highlight of our tour. Alba Lulia’s cathedral is over a thousand years old, built in 1009 AD. What an experience to sing there, wow!

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Turkey & Romania

Nathanael Martin