The Four Springs

Somewhere along the Transfagarasan Road in the Southern Carpathian Mountains is a wonderful place I call the “Four Springs” (La Patru Izvoare). A crystal-clear pond near a bend in the road is the home of four mountain springs whose water has an amazingly fresh taste. After filling up the pond, their collected volume pours into a larger brook that flows down to Lake Vidraru.

I hope you enjoy this short video clip I filmed there!

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Slopes and peaks from the Southern Carpathian Mountains

There’s a majestic beauty in these mountains that’s much more appreciated if you walk on them, rather than drive through on the Transfagarasan or the Transalpina. Their scale is easily underestimated from the car, until you step outside and size yourself next to a peak that seemed small just a minute ago, or you start climbing it and quickly run out of breath. Physical fitness aside, the overwhelming feeling when you’ve immersed yourself in their environment is one of awe and respect.

Transfagarasan Panorama

An afternoon on the Transfagarasan Road

This weekend, we spent an afternoon on the Transfăgărășan Road, in the Făgăraș Mountains of Romania. (Trans-faragarasan → “Trans” = across and “Fagarasan” = the specific mountains which it crosses.) I enjoyed driving its challenging curves (Ligia not so much) and later we both enjoyed walking and meditating in the mountains. I also took photos (naturally) and I hope you’ll enjoy them.

This is how the mountains look as you approach them from E68, after you pass through a village called Cartisoara.

As we started to climb, these are the sorts of views we started to get. Hold on, the best stuff is yet to come.

At the top, it was fairly crowded. I tried to avoid the crowds as I took my photos. Some people were hiking, others were stuffing their faces. Not sure what it is about the top of a mountain that makes people so hungry. It’s not as if they climbed it — they drove it. There were loads of cars in the parking lot.

This is what the slopes to the top peaks looked like. Although it’s summer, we were fairly high up (above 2,000 meters in altitude) so the weather was foggy and fairly cold (10-15 degrees Celsius).

Since it was too crowded and noisy at the top, and the smell of cooking pervaded the air, Ligia and I decided to drive on past the main peaks and we stopped further down the road, where it was nice and quiet. That’s Ligia hiking toward me.

The views only got better as we went higher up. The black dot in the center of the photo is Ligia.

I’ll let this three-photo panorama show you what I mean. I left the white space unmasked on purpose, to show you everything the camera captured.

Here’s a close-up of the left side of that pano, showing the twists and turns of this picturesque mountain road.

We stopped to meditate and enjoy the tremendous beauty before us where the rock face turned sharply upward and climbing by foot became dangerous (we had no climbing gear with us). As we sat there, fog from the valley rose up alongside the cliff, joining with the clouds.

We climbed down refreshed and clear-headed, and as evening drew near, we wound our way down toward Sibiu and home, but not before taking another panorama of the Transfagarasan.

Here’s another photograph that shows the spread of the road in the valley below.

As usual, if you’ll go through gallery below, you’ll find photos that I haven’t shown here. Enjoy!

Lacul Oasa

Lacul Oasa and Transalpina

The second leg of our trip through the Southern Carpathian Mountains, whose first leg took us through Obarsia Lotrului and Lacul Vidra, now took us by Lacul Oasa and the Northern portion of the Transalpina, a high-altitude road which offers unsurpassed vistas and which I documented through photos in late fall of last year.

This picturesque, unpaved portion of the Transalpina Road is also quite dangerous. The rocky cliffs you see hanging above it are eager to hurl rocks at passersby. It’s a situation made worse by man’s presence there. They blasted through the rock to make the road (a necessary evil) but they also set up a temporary concrete factory there and chewed through yet more rock to make the stuff. Until vegetation grows back on that slope to hold together the rocks, or measures are taken to reduce the rock falls, it’s a dangerous section of the road. Rocks were falling right by us as we drove through.

Be sure to view the full gallery posted below for more photos.

Transalpina

Lacul Vidra and Obarsia Lotrului

We drove into Lacul Vidra and Obarsia Lotrului this past weekend. The approximate location we visited is this one.

It’s a wonderful drive that offers gorgeous vistas (as most roads in Romania do), and because it’s not summer yet, the roads are relatively empty, meaning we were able to take our time and stop wherever we liked to take photos.

I’m going to publish the first group of photos today and the rest tomorrow, because there are quite a few of them and I’d rather not overwhelm you.

On the way, we found a grotto formed of ice and snow at the foot of a forest, right over the bed of a brook. The snow had been insulated by a thick leaf cover, and that’s why it had kept so far, but in 75-degree (Fahrenheit) late spring weather, I doubt it will keep for much longer. It was a remarkable sight for the middle of May, particularly since we weren’t at a high altitude (about 400-500 meters).

I recorded a short video of it as well.

We found a beautiful meadow on the top of a mountain, where we relaxed and breathed in the fresh air.

In case you’re wondering what I look like these days, here’s a portrait of me taken by Ligia.

Make sure to go through the full gallery posted below for more photos.

The slopes

Winter in Poiana Brasov and Brasov

Ligia and I got to spend a bit of time in Poiana Brasov recently. Following are a few photos I took as we visited the mountain resort after some significant snowfall. Naturally, everything was blanketed in the smooth, powdery white stuff, and the light just happened to be perfect.

Incidentally, these are some of the first photos I edited with the new Lightroom 4. Enjoy!

Compare these photos with these, taken a few months ago in the same approximate locations.

The Paltinis mountains in autumn

We visited the mountain resort of Paltinis today. It’s about 25-30 km from Sibiu (Hermannstadt), Romania, and the road to it is in pretty good shape. The views are wonderful, so if you’re in the area, drive on over.

Funny thing about Paltinis… It’s the place where I almost wasn’t… My mom was skiing on their bunny slope when she was pregnant with me, and she had a bad fall which could have resulted in a spontaneous abortion. Thank goodness it didn’t, or I wouldn’t be around today.

Here are a few photos I took there, which I shot with an iPhone. I used a “pre-filter” for some of the photos — my driving sunglasses! It’s a neat little trick you can do if the lens of your camera is small enough to be masked completely by the lens of your sunglasses, and it works particularly well if they’re polarized. You simply hold the camera right next to your glasses and shoot through the lens. You can compare the resulting effect below. Another thing I should mention is the panoramic-sized photos were stitched together in Photoshop, they’re not single exposures cropped to look like panoramic shots. Click through to view them large.