The history of Romania during the communist reign of Nicolae Ceausescu is bleak with its unimaginable oppression and violence, but I found hope in the Village Museum in Bucharest on a Viking Cruises excursion.
This was the end of my week-long Passages to Eastern Europe cruise; a look at nations rebuilding after being under such tyranny. I met so many people with a renewed sense of optimism.
The museum is an expansive open-air park featuring 272 houses, farms and churches from Maramures, Moldavia, Transylvania, Muntenia and other rural areas.
Created in 1936 before communist rule to showcase the many ethnic groups of Romania, it is, in many cases, all that is left of the historic communities all but destroyed by Ceausescu.
Dozens of locals, many in authentic costumes, were selling handcrafted items: dolls, clothing, shoes and household decorations. I enjoyed talking to several merchants and got a true sense of happiness. Traveling to Eastern Bloc countries is an education on many levels and one I would recommend to anyone.