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TAFS 5 Romania: daily adventures

By Rowan Dunn-Capper and Catherine Fayet

DAY 1 – Sunday, October 3rd

TerraNova’s TAFS 5 officially begins today! While some of us started travelling earlier, most of us started this (long)  journey (very early!) in the morning. After a number of (mis-)adventures on the way for some of us (delayed/missed flights etc), an encounter with sheep on the road during our final ride by bus, we finally arrived at the hotel in the evening. Although not all of us could join, it was really nice to be together again after nearly 2 years!

DAY 2 – Monday, October 4th

The first official day of TAFS 5 began with ESR presentations. Elena, Kailin, Anastasia, Alex, Emily and Maria Antonia all presented their work so far. It was great to hear what everyone had been up to, and to finally see some presentations in person! Following this, we spent the afternoon hiking, in search of a secluded peat bog. We learned how extraction of peat has massively changed European landscapes, and acted as a precursor to the industrial revolution. While here, in Romania, its use is largely limited to home insulation, across wider Europe it was a vital source of fuel. Moreover, some ESRs, and supervisors, had the opportunity to flex their muscles, boring deep into the soil to gather samples. 

DAY 3 – Tuesday, October 5th

The second day started with the presentations of the ESRs from Work Package 4. Rowan, Josiane, Laura, Catherine and Roberta presented their research progress and ongoing work. After a time for reflections on the presentation of the morning, we had a quick lunch and we got into two minibuses for our afternoon excursion (with partner organisation WWF Romania). On the way, we could admire traditional farming in Romanian countryside and encounter cows and horses. As we drove further and further in the mountain/forest, the road gradually transformed to what seemed like a hiking training. Our destination was one of the eight pristine forests of Romania (in the Baiut area). We had the chance to have a guided tour of the forest, learnt about the forest management, species composition, vegetation competition for light, while crossing ravines/streams, jumping over dead trees and bending below branches. This forest has been in full protection since 2017, therefore, there is no human intervention, dead wood remains on the ground, or else, no food can be collected (a disappointment for mushroom lovers!). We also saw the entrance of an abandoned mine tunnel on our way back and learnt about the challenges of addressing environmental pollution, and the inheritance of abandoned mining infrastructure…

DAY 4- Wednesday, October 6th

Similarly to the previous two days we began with ESR project updates, this time from WP3, as Angelina, Marco, and Frank all presented their work. Overall, it was great to finally hear from all the fellow ESRs in person, and to have the opportunity to ask questions about their work. Following the ESR meetings the separate work packages had the opportunity to meet together to discuss next steps for research, and some interesting avenues for new papers and collaborations were put forward. 

DAY 5 – Thursday, October 7th

Thursday was organised differently from the other days, as the ESRs divided in two groups for the day. There was an early start for some of us who went by bus to the Carpathian-Balkan Paleoscience PAGES workshop to present Terranova and their research.  This workshop was located in Suceava county, close to Cârlibaba. After the bus ride, there was a 30 minutes walk in the mountain to reach the conference venue. Although the landscapes were impressive, we will also remember how cold the wind was in the mountain… For sure, we had our dose of fresh air! Anastasia, Maria Antonia, Frank and Alex had the chance (and honour!) to borrow traditional jackets of wool sheep that helped them warm up a bit! After soup and a traditional fish dish, we headed back to the hotel. 

The other ESRs stayed at the hotel, worked on collaborative projects and their own research. In the afternoon, they enjoyed the nice weather with a hike to explore the surroundings of the hotel.

DAY 6 – Friday, October 8th

The programme of the last day of TAFS was flexible and allowed ESRs to keep working on their different (collaborative) research projects. In the afternoon, some of us went exploring the surroundings while others worked and/or enjoyed the services offered by the hotel. We all gathered around 5pm for a last moment together, a closing speech and drink before the departure of some of us by taxi for their early flight tomorrow morning.

DAY 7- Saturday, October 9th

This was the day most of us traveled home. We left the hotel by bus in the morning. The bus driver dropped some of us at the airport and the rest in the city center, where some headed back to the airport later for their evening flight while others went on visiting Romania. 

We look back on a successful TAFS! Thanks all. Pictures by Catherine Fayet, Thomas Houet, Anastasia Nikulina, Florence Mazier, Laura C. Quintero Uribe.

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