The Tower

Sighisoara: off the beaten path

This Labor Day, we drove into Sighisoara and we decided to see it differently from the way most of its visitors see it. The typical route is to park at the bottom of the hill, walk up the stairs, see the clocktower, tour the piazza, buy some trinkets and go back down…

We drove into the outskirts, climbed up one of the adjacent hills, found a clearing, and got some interesting views of the city that way.

Afterward, we went up into the fortress to see if we could see some spots we hadn’t yet seen, and after walking up a well-known side street, were rewarded with the open gates of the rectory. We went right inside the courtyard and had a marvelous walk up into the gardens adjacent to the fortified walls.

We were greeted by a very pregnant and friendly kitty in the courtyard, who acted as our host for the duration of our visit.

The human hosts saw fit to ruin the architecture with polycarbonate sheeting as cover and communist-era poured concrete as a rude balustrade for the balcony. The satellite dish is apparently a modern pre-requisite.

Back to our walk in the beautiful garden.

In this view of the fortified tower, you can see the city and the river in the background.

Our feline host got a belly rub, which made her very happy indeed.

She then accompanied us to the gate.

We stopped at one of the local establishments for some lemonade.

Here are some more photographs from the streets of the Old Town.

Summertime

In the hills outside Medias

It was the summer of 2009 and during a walk in the hills outside Medias, I recorded this video with a Canon G10. It was peaceful and quiet and a soft summer breeze helped take away the heat that rose from the valley below. I hope you’ll enjoy it!

The music is Rondo No. 3 in A Minor (K511) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, performed by David H. Porter. It’s public domain, available from MusOpen.org.

And here’s a photo gallery from the same outing, including some panoramic shots.

Medias panorama

Medias in 2006

Here are photos from Medias, taken in the summer of 2006. Back then, I used the Kodak v610 digital camera. If you’d like to learn more about the city of my childhood, I’ll refer you to its Wikipedia page.

Medias was famous during medieval times for its wine, which is even mentioned in Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”. Virtually all of the hills that surround the city (and there are many of them) are terraced or bear the signs of past vineyards. Nowadays, they’re barren. Untended, the vineyards withered away, past glories and all.

The outskirts of the city are interesting. The landscape is dotted with houses here and there, some deserted, like the one below. Houses like these exist in the city as well. If they aren’t reclaimed by their owners or restored, they will perish, and that will be a pitiable loss given their age and history.

Let’s look at more beautiful scenes from nature.

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.

Out sledding

Sledding is fun!

This is video from a sledding outing with our friends, near Medias, Romania. Remember sledding?

I ask the question because most people look at me funny when I talk to them about hauling an old-fashioned sled up a hill, then sliding down said hill at great speeds, only to repeat the process until completely exhausted, at which time we’d trudge on home with big smiles on our faces.

My sled is part wood, part cast iron, with steel feet. It’s a heavy, sturdy monster that I’ve had since I was a kid, and there’s a good chance this sled will last me my whole life. I might even be able to pass it down to my children.

In the States, I rarely saw people sledding. Sure, if you visit winter resorts, there’s bound to be some sledding going on. But the neighborhood sledding slope has been slowly disappearing.

Remember when parents and children alike would know just which slopes were perfect for sledding? And they couldn’t wait to get their sleds and run outside after snowfall? Remember being in awe at the glossy photo of the latest wooden sled in the L.L. Bean catalog? I can’t even find those old sled models in their catalog anymore… All I can find now are kiddy sleds and plastic somethings. I’m talking about real sleds, like these!

When I grew up in Romania, the hills were full of children, yelling, laughing, crying, running about, having snowball fights, sledding. It was the same for my wife. Now, the hills are mostly silent. Medias is surrounded by hills, yet when we wanted to go sledding, we had to drive around for about 1 1/2 hours, looking for a good slope. Nobody knew where they were anymore.

I’d love to see more people sledding. It’s great exercise and it’s tons of fun! I think local governments can help by maintaining sledding slopes at certain locations. Nothing fancy, no artificial snow, just some lights and a man to turn them on and off. Word would get around and people would come.

By the way, this is what the moon looked like that night, after we got home.