Christmas & New Years in Bucharest

As everyone is waiting for the clock to tick down to 12 midnight. Another new year approaches and for certain there will be lots of new years kisses, glasses been raised for a toast, family, and friends celebrating the new and the old. For me this year it will be different from previous years. I’m living in a different country from my own.ie Ireland. Like anyone who lives abroad, over the Christmas and new years period you miss your family and friends back home etc. But when I look back and reflect on things past and present I’m happy to be where I am, Ireland has been my home for a long time, but that home will always be there and now I have a new home. Let’s face it I don’t think a whole lot has have changed in the time that I’ve gone. I’m pretty sure everyone is doing pretty much the same as always, some will have kids, got new jobs, went out and did the same routine as normal etc. Life goes on. “Such is life” as a wise man once said.

In Romania  Dec 31 – Jan 1 means the burial of the old year and the birth of the new one, and it is called the old year before and the new year, after that midnight. St. Basil is the first of the holidays celebrating the important saints of the Romanian religious calendar. St. Basil is celebrated every year on January 1, as a joyful young man who likes love and fun. (dont we all)

Christmas in Romania has been pretty different in a lot of ways from back home. Some similarities to be fair, but different never the less. Romania has a lot of traditions in so many ways, no matter what time of the year it is. We had people coming to the apartment complex and outside the block singing their hearts out with some lovely Christmas melodies, (pity I wasn’t fluent in the language to really take it all in) charming nevertheless… a group of people cracking whips as they walk by the blocks, not to sure about that one, the cutting/killing of the pig for the feast, the boiled wine in the Christmas market on a cold winter’s night as it snows around you. As I am but a student of this land, I let it all soak in; where ever possible.With any big city, you have lots of Christmas lights and Bucharest is no exception. I didn’t get to see all that i would have liked but there is always next year. From what I did see I was impressed.

This is my first Christmas in Romania and also as a daddy, when I think back on the year I have had, it has been one of the best as I got to welcome into the world a beautiful little lady, and as Christmas is a time for giving, my fiance gave me the best gift of all. The gift of life. For that, I will always be eternally grateful to her; and I would like take this time to tell her I love her very much. Christmas without having a kid or kids, has never meant that much to me, but its kids/family and friends who make Christmas. So to all my family and friends and whoever reads this blog. I wish you all the best for the new year ahead and I hope it brings you as much joy as I have had this year.

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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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

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.

 

Getting lost is an Adventure as well as a lesson…

Where to start…

Since my last article I got the job I was looking for. Telesales and marketing.  It came just in time as money was running very low, and with bills due to be paid, it was very welcome when it came. For sure it’s not so easy to find work over here if you only speak English. You’re fighting an uphill battle but like I said before keep positive as it is not impossible either.

With going for interviews from one side of the city to another, public transport is a must. For some of the interviews I had my 6-month pregnant fiancé driving me around, but with temperatures in the high 30s, it’s not ideal for her to do so. So with that, public transport was the answer and something I needed to get use to ASAP. I come from a small town in the southeast of Ireland called Kilkenny; anything I need is within walking distance. You can get a taxi or a bus to where ever you need to go. I myself used to cycle everywhere when living there. In this concrete jungle over here, it’s a different story; you need to know how to use the public transport system. So last week I went off on my own for the first time using the bus as I went to the interview I had. Then when coming back on the bus I wasn’t so sure if it as the right one. So being a little lost I asked a local who’s English wasn’t so great. He in turn asked two more locals; before I knew it I was told to get on another bus at a certain stop, so I did just that. I got on the other bus then 3 transport inspectors came on that bus also, I swiped my card to pay, no problem. (more…)

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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B-Fit In The Street Festival, Bucharest Romania

Recently I had the pleasure of going to Bucharest’s annual B-Fit In The Street Festival, the festival has been running since 2007 and has become a big feature in the arts calendar in the city. By the year 2021, Romania wants to be European capital of culture and is one of the candidates for the title. So every year since 2007 it has put on a show. It invites artists and performers from all over Europe to come together for a special 4-day event in the city. The shows are held in the main square “Piata Universitatii” which is in the city centre.

The project is organized by Arcub-Centre of Culture in Bucharest and with artists coming from all over Europe you’re in for a treat. The artists this year came from: France, Spain, Germany, Poland, Spain, Great Britain, Slovakia  and not to forget the local Romanians. The shows start from 17:00 hours and last all the way up to 23:00. The event is one for all ages and great day out for the family (more…)

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