A jaunt through the mountains near Bran

During our recent visit to Bran Castle, we had a few spare hours that we chose to spend wandering through the mountains above Bran. We found a dirt road that wound its way up the mountains through a beautiful village called Sodohol and then entered into Bucegi National Park. We stumbled onto it by chance and followed it till we could go no further without damage to the underside of our car, so we parked it and walked. We had a wonderful time and I hope the photos you see here will show it. Some of them are high-resolution panoramas and one includes a view of Bran Castle from afar. Enjoy!

A hike through the hills of Atel (Hetzeldorf)

Atel (Hetzeldorf) is a larger village in Southern Transilvania with a beautiful fortified church. The church is undergoing renovations and is closed to the public but the hills surrounding the village were certainly open and welcoming today, as we took a short hike to enjoy nature. In case you’d like to visit the place yourself, here’s a link to the spots we saw.

We’d come to get a bit of fresh air and as we were walking around with Sophie, exploring the flowers and the bugs and the birds and listening to the various sounds the latter two made, we spotted a building up on the hill, looking somewhat deserted. We decided to pay a visit and see what it was. It turned out to be the somewhat deserted church of the Saxon cemetery which overlooks the village.

If you don’t know the story of the Saxons of Transilvania, you need to read this. It tells only part of the story and obviously none of the heartache of the departure from their places of birth, but the deserted graves, tilting and knocked over by time, including the cobwebs on the church door, tell the story of a people that are no more, with only remnants here and there. These people built these magnificent structures and sturdy homes that have stood the test of time and now they are here no longer. Atel is only one of the many, many Saxon villages spread throughout Transilvania but for some reason, seeing all those graves in disarray made me realize how few Saxons there are left and what good work they’ve done over the many hundreds of years they were here.

I hope you’ll enjoy the photos and as usual, if you’re interested in using any of them, please see my licensing terms.

Men’s Summer Wear Suggestions

Hot summer weather is here (it’s been here for a month or so) and that means it’s nearly impossible to wear a suit during the day. Here are some suggestions I’ve put together for acceptable summer clothes that will keep you cool and presentable. I’ve also included a few pieces of advice such as how to deal with sweat (bring an extra article of clothing to change if needed), the appropriate length for summer shorts and finally, whether or not it’s acceptable to roll up the sleeves of your shirt.

I hope you find it helpful!

Summer in our garden

I took these photos back in June in our garden. The apricots weren’t yet ripe but almost all of the flowers were in bloom. Ligia and I took daily walks in the garden, which is something we still love to do. The raspberries were ripe and I ate a handful every morning while they were in season. Enjoy the photos!

Panoramas from Southern Transilvania

Back in August, I took several panoramas during a trip from Sighisoara to Fagaras where we decided to take the winding country roads, which meant also meant driving on dirt roads for quite some time during that trip. The views were worth it. Here are a few of them. Go ahead, click through to see them at full size, the details are worth it.

Apricots from our garden

This is the second year our apricot tree has given us fruits. Last year it tested the waters with 3-4 fruits but this year it has given us lots of delicious, juicy apricots. I don’t think I’ve ever tasted better apricots: lots of aroma, soft, juicy and beautiful. We use no pesticides or fertilizers in our garden; nothing, not even manure. But what we do is that we let fallen leaves and vegetables sit on the ground over the winter and by spring, they’ve almost all dissolved into it, enriching it naturally. We have few pests and as you can see from the photos, our apricots were not spoiled by them. I think I tossed at most 5-6 fruits (out of over 100) due to critters. Enjoy the photos!

Happy Independence Day!

Happy Independence Day everyone! This is our daughter Sophie 🙂

Sophie waves the flag

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!

Summer flowers

I wanted to show you the beauty of our summer flowers, particularly that of our red poppies. And if you recall my cherry blossom photos posted this spring, you’ll find a certain photo of ripening cherries posted below quite appetizing.

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.

Early morning on Hollywood Beach

We took these photos one fine summer morning, before we went for a swim on Hollywood Beach (in FL, not CA). Hollywood is where you might say I’m from. I lived many years in the Hollywood-Hallandale area.

Selected photos from Iasi, Romania

What you see below are photos from the city of Iasi, Romania, the second largest city in Romania after Bucharest, according to a recent census. It’s a city with a lot of history and a lot of historic buildings. It was the capital of the province of Moldova for hundreds of years, and also the capital of Romania for a short while. It’s home to the oldest university in the country, named after Alexandru Ioan Cuza, who founded it in 1860.

We visited the city in June of 2006, after an all-night train ride in horrendous conditions, and we only had about half a day to see it. Naturally, we went to see the Palace of Culture (which was closed for renovations unfortunately), so we rambled around for a while then decided to go see Ion Creanga’s house (he’s one of Romania’s most beloved writers).

Let me just say that I took these photos with a digital camera, not a DSLR, so the picture quality suffers. Given that I was just starting to learn proper composition back then, some aren’t framed properly. But enough apologies. Here are the photos.

Continue reading “Selected photos from Iasi, Romania”