Lake Baia Baciului, Romania…

Recently we were invited to get out of the city for the day, after working all week I was in need of some TLC so took the opportunity with both hands. The place we went, was none other than Lake Baia Baciului. Another little gem hidden in the countryside. Saturday morning we left with a few friends and as we drove down to the lake, Its like an hours drive from the city so its not far from home. I being a non driver at the age of 33, I called shot gun, while my heavily pregnant fiance took the wheel ( I know, I should be ashamed of myself )  and it wasn’t before long and we arrived at our destination. I knew a little about the place, as we stopped here for lunch after visiting the salt mines not far from the lake on a previous outing.

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A little about the place.

It has a nice traditional restaurant which you can eat inside or out, the food is very nice and you can get your fill of romanian foods with plenty on offer. If you have kids, not to worry. They have playgrounds for the children to keep them entertained, while also having a zip line which crosses over the lake for a small fee. Its main features for me has to be the salt lake, I’ve never been in one. Im not a great swimmer by any means and can’t tread in the water (stay afloat without swimming in the one spot) but because of the salt in the water it was nearly impossible to stay under and not rise to the top. which made it perfect for me.( for once i was able to do the dead mans float, on top of the water) There is a section for people wanting to jump or dive into the water, the height ranges from around 6f to 16ft, if your feeling brave. Which of course I had to do 🙂 Last but not least was the mud bath next to the lake. They said it has very good properties for the skin, which include sulfates, nitrates, sodium, magnesium, potassium, calcium, iron, etc. Its therapeutic so why not.

When in Romania, do as the Romanians do. So we got in and got dirty..

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After we were mucked up like two pigs we let it dry in and washed ourselves off in the lake.

All that was left to do was sit back and relax on our sun loungers, enjoy the sun and chill out with a beer. In my opinion, a perfect way to spend a Saturday.

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If you got this far, thanks for reading. Please like/follow/share or leave a comment. Feed back in always welcome.

Some nice pics below

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5 Things I have noticed since moving to Bucharest, Romania…

As you can imagine living in Ireland, we are some what way out of the distance of central Europe. As once described by Roddy Doyle in “The Commitments” the Irish are “the blacks of Europe” 🙂 Every country you go visit or live in has its differences, Ireland like many other countries is no exception. The way we talk, act,carry on and so forth. As a people we are hard-working when we need to be and very laid back also, never short of a joke or a good story. All work and no play makes for a very dull day. We like to have “the craic” where ever and how ever we can. Today I was thinking about some of the difference that I have seen since I came to live in Romania. Just little things, but I’m sure a few Romanians might agree with what I write about here today.

The local bus

Everyday Mon/Friday I get up to go to work, I get the 355,or 330 to where I work. It takes maybe 25/30 mins at most to get there. In this time, I have noticed that no matter how hot it is outside; and no matter how hot it is inside? The windows for the most part are always closed, very rarely do I see a window open, no matter how many people are in the bus. If you are brave enough to open a window, then be ready for someone to close it just as quick. For some reason, I don’t know why. But the older generation of Romanians in particular, think the cold will hurt them in someway or that they will get sick. Sometimes its like a tin of sardines on the bus, there are so many people packed into it. If you’re a claustrophobic person, please take the metro!! If not, for sure you will have a panic attack on the bus and die during rush hour 🙂 (don’t say I didn’t warn you)

The local bus conductors,

For sure it you are a foreigner they will see it and they will approach you looking for your card, to see did you pay before getting on or if the card is valid. I’ve had one or two run ins with these guys. If it was legal to hit them by all means I would love too, as would many other Romanians. Quite simply put, there assholes. Maybe not all of them but the ones I had dealings with. They took me off the bus one day and tried to scam me out of 50 Lei, I payed my card before getting on the bus. They came and checked it. For sure they switched the card and then said, no money off, off. So I got off, they threatened me with the police. Then wanted me to pay 50 lei fine, I called their bluff and said ring them. When they seen they weren’t getting anywhere, they gave me back my card and told me to go in a not so polite way. So I obliged and got the next bus.

Old women in the supermarket,

The first time I ever went to the supermarket it was an eye opener. In Ireland we are very relaxed when we go grocery shopping, in Romania however it’s a different story altogether. Think of it like, formula one driving meets destruction derby!!! The old women and gentlemen think it’s a race, they are very fast and eager to get their shopping done, so much so that when you are weighing your fruit or vegetables, personal space goes out the window. They will be almost be humping you from behind to get in next to weigh their groceries. Space can also be another issue if there coming down your aisle, be sure to get out of their way or use your trolley like a shield and attack their trolley till you can push your way through. I’ve had a few stair downs with some old ladies but I stood my ground. Luckily enough I have a bit of fight in me. As for the trolley, it never fully recovered and had to be put down… dame you old lady!!!

(Ps…. I have nothing  against old people)

Men going around with their T-shirts above there belly’s like tank tops,

Not to sure what to say about this, but yes its true? Its seems like its fashionable here, Men of all shapes and sizes, young and old. On a hot day for some reason lift their t-shirts above there belly’s and let it all hang out, as the air works its wonders around said area. I’m not criticizing, its just an observation. Each to their own as they say. If you did this in Ireland, a few eyebrows would be raised.

The traffic and crazy driving,

I’ve read a few articles about Romanians driving, as in any big city people are always in a rush. My father is from Dublin so when visiting relatives in Dublin I got a good feel for this their also. Bucharest is no exception!!! The traffic lights can go from red to orange and for 0.5seconds later when it turns green you better be driving off or you will hear the beeps from the cars behind you. It’s good my Romanian is not so good, I can’t understand if there swearing at me and my fiancée or not? I just smile and wave goodbye. But for sure if your driving here, it wont be long till you learn how to swear in Romanian 🙂 While also becoming an unqualified rally car driver.

This article is just a little look at some of the things I noticed here, please rest assured no trolleys or old ladies died in the production of this article…

If you like what you see here please feel free to share, comment or like the article. Any feedback is always welcome.

Anthony

Mountain biking in the Romanian Mountains…

Where to begin, well last week my boss asked me if I was interested in going for a cycle in the mountains. It’s something I have never done before, so I was a little weary at the first thought of the idea. I haven’t cycled a bike in quite some time and my fitness level has completely gone to nothing in the past year. He said it would be good scenery and that I could take some nice pictures for the blog, sounded like a great idea. So with that, I said yes. I didn’t think too much about it, as it was a great opportunity to get out there and do something different. It’s always nice to see something different and try new things; meet new people etc. After looking at a link he sent me, two things hit me like a sledgehammer in the face. The distance we would be covering was 48 kilometers, and if that wasn’t tough enough. The 1180 meters ascent to the top was the icing on the cake? (30 miles and 3,871 feet uphill and /3,871 down hill) On the bright side as Isaac Newton once said: “What goes up must come down.

The truth is I didn’t know what to make of it, for me; it was an adventure. Something I could tick off the bucket list. So I took the chance that presented itself in front of me.

mountain map
the trail

In my country the highest mountain peak is located in County Kerry, named Carrauntoohil, it is 1,038 meters high. I’ve never been, but as its in Kerry (also known as The Kingdom)  I’m sure it is a beautiful sight to see. The prospect of going up a mountain higher then anything in my country was an exciting thought. But for a man with no fitness….well…that was another thought entirely.

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the group minus the photographer

So with an early start on a Saturday morning, there was 14 of us setting up and unloading the bikes, ready for a day of cycling in the mountains. With the first few mins of cycling down hill I was taking my time as I wanted to get used to the bike I had, but it wasn’t long before I picked up speed and was taking corners like a man in a hurry. Within 5 mins we had our first casualty, someone had taken a corner too fast and crashed into a road barrier. They were uninjured and the bike was still in one piece, so we continued on as planned. It wasn’t long before we came across the first sight of the day “Barajul Maneciu” which is a beautiful canyon overlooking the Tabla Butii mountains.

PANO_20160730_152138When I looked at the mountain I didn’t think too much about what was ahead for me throughout the day, It was the first sight of the giant obstacle that stood before me. When I look back now and think about that moment, I would have never expected the outcome of the day. We cycled for hours and took breaks when needed, I needed more then most I can tell you 🙂 I cycled what I could, and pushed my bike up what I could not.

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So on we went, further and further into the mountain. Half way through the circuit I was completely and utterly exhausted. This was one of my fears going to do this cycle, with no fitness preparation coming into it, it was only a matter of time before my fitness let me down. But with a good group of people around me they pushed me on and on. I knew I was slowing the group down but there wasn’t much I could do only keep going and keep trying my best. Truth is, it was a grueling day for me. Later in the day a storm came, we could hear the clattering thunder; it wasn’t long before the heavens opened up. The rain was so intense that we found some shelter along the way for a few mins at least. A few mins later and we were on our way again, but now the ground was wet and the journey was more dangerous than imagined before.

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I fell 3 times off the bike in the space of an hour, with at least one of them being headfirst downhill with the bike landing on top of me. I picked myself up, dusted myself off so to speak and got on with it.Throughout the day it was hard going. Once we got over the highest peak, it got a lot easier going downhill for the remainder of the track. It was still hard and still a lot of mountain hills to overcome, looking back it was like a mix of hiking and mountain biking throughout the day. All in all no matter what I went through that day and what obstacles I had to overcome, I was glad that I did it. The sights I seen on this day were simply beautiful, with its picturesque mountain views as far as the eye can see, shepherds herding their flock of sheep, wild horses running free and untamed landscapes and so on. To see all I seen and to do it, was worth any struggle I may have encountered on the day. So a special thanks to Sebbe and the gang for having me. Another tick on my bucket list. Here is a look at some of the photos below that were taken throughout the day. I have included a link to a video made by Sorin Brutaru https://youtu.be/XtdzfVZEDiY It will give you a little idea of what sights we seen on the day.

If you got this far, thanks for reading. Please like/follow/share or leave a comment. Feed back is always welcome.

 

English speaker, looking for work in Romania.

So today I was wondering what to write about and then like looking at a Frisbee getting bigger coming towards me…. it hit me 🙂 looking for work in Romania. So I have been in Romania for nearly 3 months and to say that the plan went the way I wanted would be a lie. But every sky has a silver lining. 

When I first moved here there was talk of working as a dental assistant to which sounded pretty good at the time. So I jumped at the chance, with no training I did it for a time with the promise of; if I worked there for a month I would get trained but not paid. Sounded a little shaddy to begin with but as I didn’t speak Romanian and needed work, I took it. I wasn’t registered to work yet and with no formal qualifications like a university degree it also sounded like a good start.  So I did it for a time, but then the “one month conversation”, turned into “two months” unpaid training. The new excuse was I didn’t know the language so good, but I could help out passing what objects needed, greet the patients, clean the tools etc, but I would have to wait another month, so at that stage I have had enough. I took it on the chin, I felt like I was been taking advantage of so I quit and started looking elsewhere.

It felt so good to know that I had the freedom to do what ever I wanted now. I didn’t see it as failed opportunity more as one I can learn from.

 I knew coming here I would be limited in a lot of ways to what I could do and from the start, the language barrier was always going to be the killer. But like many a man faced with what should I do now prospect, I looked online for jobs that only wanted English speakers. As luck would have it, living in a big city there are quite a few. So the search continued, in the past two weeks I sent out more CVS then I care to remember, I had 3 interviews this week alone. Sales Representatives seem to be the way to go for now. The interview I went for yesterday is the one I’m holding out for as they seem like a good company to work for, and promotion is on offer for candidates who do well; so fingers crossed. Its feels weird to be back sitting in an interview room trying to sell yourself but its something we all have to do at some stage or another. With time and effort comes opportunity so ill just keep going and wait for mine to present itself. I had a job offer already to work sales in an investment bankers company but the hours were to long and starting money wasn’t so great. As a father to be I have to think about these things now. The joys of adulthood folks! It is fair to say about options being limited but as a wise man once said:

 “The garden of the world has no limits, except in your mind.” 
 Rumi

“In the game of life, we all receive a set of variables and limitations in the field of play. We can either focus on the lack thereof or empower ourselves to create better realities with the pieces we play the game with.” 
 T.F. Hodge,

so I guess ill just keep on going and see what happens, and hope for the best possible scenario …

 

Anthony

Digging Deep, Prahova Salt Mines. Romania

Last weekend was a bank holiday in Romania and with the extreme heat at the moment we decided to get away from it, and where better to go to get away from the heat then underground. We decided to take a trip outside as i was told about a mine which is said to be the biggest salt mine in Europe. The mine is none other than Prahova Salt Mine, which is situated north of Bucharest. The first mention of mining here goes back as far as 1685, the mine was actively mined until 1972.

The Arrival 

So we arrive at our destination after a 2 hours drive from the city centre, as it was a bank holiday. There was a lot of visitors and with that being said, came an hour of waiting in line to get in at the mine. Not to forget the sun beaming down on us, eventually a bus came and we were very happy to see it. We boarded the bus and after about 5 minutes of driving us into the mine we arrived at our destination. As soon as you walk past the big doors at the entrance, you look out into the massive open area. I was in awe of the sheer size of this place. From the base to the ceiling, it’s taller than the statue of liberty at 55 metres. All year around the mines temperature is around 12-13 degrees with the humidity at 60 %, which on a very hot day outside, to get in was a blessing. The mine is like something I have never seen before, as I have never been so far underground.

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Rasnov Fortress… who’s with me… deep in the Romanian heartland

Like I said in my previous article about Peles Castle, Rasnov Fortress is also like something you would only read about or see from a fairytale book. It is situated in the high hills of the Carpathian Mountains, which hails 650 feet over the town Rasnov. High in the hills and surrounded by beautiful forest lands. It’s easy to see why this would be on your to do list in Romania. It’s said that the fortress was built in 1211 ad and finished 14 years later in 1225ad. Inside the fortress there is a well, which was built in 1623. The fortress was built more as a place of refuge for the inhabitants against its enemies. Inside the grounds is pretty impressive as it had 30 houses, a school, a chapel and a well. As you walk through the grounds there are plenty of locals selling there trinkets, food etc. At one stage during my visit I could see some of the locals dressed in old style costumes with swords and axes, for a small little fee, they let me play the game of throwing an axe at a target. Can’t say I was any good though. Who ever thought to build it here obviously had strategy in mind, and as you walk from one side to another. You can see that the defence system had nine towers, two bastions and a drawbridge. Turn to the north, south and west of the walls there is a 500 foot slope of a drop. On a cold winters day with freezing conditions outside the fortress, it must have been terrible trying to break through its defences. However, only once in all it’s existence was it forced to surrender. The year 1612, that was due to no water supply as the enemy found their secret passage. Which in turn was why they built the well inside the grounds many years later. Pretty impressive all the same. Local legend has it, that two prisoners built the well, which took 17 years to build in return for their freedom. The well itself is 470 ft deep. Once you finished looking inside you can take a look from the towers on the town and countryside below, which is a pretty impressive sight. All in all nice to see and a nice break from the city does nobody any harm.

Anthony

 

Sinaia, Romania… A little gem.

Another day another story, recently we decided to get out of the city for a few days to visit one of Romania’s most famous landscapes. The place i’ll be talking about is Sinaia.

If you want to get a feel for Romania and what it was like in the old days then look no further. This place has everything you could ask for, Peles Castle is like something you would only see in a fairytale book, The castle itself was once home to King Carol who ruled Romania from 1881-1914, from what I gather from locals he used this castle as a summer retreat. This area is full of mountains and you wouldn’t want to be afraid of heights when driving as there are a lot of steep hills you will come across. The mountains here range from 2,516 to 2,822 feet above sea level.

You can do a bit of hiking in the summer from beginners classes to expert levels, you can also bike around the mountains and if you’re up for the task,  quad bike. One thing is for sure, you won’t be short of views as the mountains views are beautiful. When the winter comes in, Romania gets as much snow as you can imagine; and with Sinaia being a mountain area there are plenty of winter activities that can be done. For people who don’t want to walk you can get the cable cab to the top of the mountain and ski your way down. There also is ski touring you can do which seems to be pretty popular, where you can be guided down the mountains, but being summer over here when I visited skiing was not on the agenda. When I do eventually do it i’ll let you know my thoughts on it.  My main interest for coming to Sinaia was to visit Peles Castle as I heard it’s one of the nicest castles to visit in Romania.

So we arrived,

As you walk up the pathway through the wooded area you will see plenty of stalls with the locals selling all kinds of Romanian memorabilia and food at a pretty good price, while in Peles Castle grounds I was very impressed from what I could see. The outside grounds as well as the castle are in pristine condition, and as you take the tour around the grounds you can just imagine what it was like 200 years ago with a king inside and his army of troops at his command. Just outside the grounds of the castle there is another house called “little pelisor” which was built for his nephew in 1899-1902 which is also pretty impressive.

As you can see from the photos you will not be disappointed if you come here, the main town is only ten minutes away, you can get back to normality with plenty of shops and restaurants to eat in, So if you want to get away from the busy city then this is a perfect retreat for a weekend get away. If visiting Romania I would put it on the to do list.

 

 

Anthony

Pictures below: