Our spring break at Babeș-Bolyai University fell the week after Easter Sunday; consequently, my classes scheduled for Good Friday were forfeited. Those students told me in advance that they would be going home, and they asked that I reschedule their class, which I did. The result was that I effectively ended up with two weeks for spring break, the first of which was spent in Cyprus and the second in Ireland.
Although Cluj may seem a bit remote, it is the second largest city in Romania and enjoys several (discount) airlines that fly directly to several places on my bucket list: 2 1/2 hours from Cluj to Larnaca (Cyprus) and just under four hours from Cluj to Dublin (Ireland)…and all for rates that would seem inconceivable by most Americans.
My visit to Cyprus was met with wonderfully warm weather, a shared day’s outings with a fellow Fulbrighter and his lovely wife (Dean and Maya Cleavenger), and a serendipitous reunion with Marina Maleni, a classmate and fellow actor from UT-Austin from almost 30 years ago! A Cypriot herself, she is on the staff of the National Theatre and is married to a leading director. She afforded me a tour of the theatre, a wonderful lunch, and, best, a discussion of ways that our respective theatres and students could work together in the future. I based myself in Larnaca but also spent parts of two days in Nicosia, the capital and a city divided by a wall separating the northern Turks from the Greeks in the south.
My “divided-by-a-wall” break continued in Ireland, where I spent six days in the southern Republic of Ireland and one in Northern Ireland and its capital Belfast. Despite its predictably dreary weather, the island is lush green and fascinating in ways that I’ve rarely experienced. I arrived in Dublin and then journeyed to Cork (comfortable but a bit blasé), then Limerick (for the castle), Galway (so picturesque and livable!), the Cliffs of Mohar (overcast but awesome), then back to Dublin (Trinity College and Guinness) and a day trip to Belfast, which was impressive in its modernity and tragic in its history.
I am glad that I got to visit both Cyprus and Ireland, but I’ll long be haunted by their walls. (Recall that I visited Jerusalem and the Palestinian Territories back in January.) As always, I end(ed) up loving the people but loathing their politicians. Alas.