Places

Images from historic churches and monasteries in Bucovina and Moldova

In August of 2*** (regular readers will know the year ūüėĀ), we took a tour of the historic churches and monasteries in the provinces of Moldova and Bucovina (within the territory of Romania).

A clarification is in order here. When people hear Moldova they automatically think about the Republic of Moldova, which used to be part of the Romanian province of Moldova but was taken by the Russians in 1940. That whole region has a fairly tumultuous history which you can read here. Just keep in mind these photographs were taken within the current-day borders of Romania and yes, there are two provinces called Bucovina and Moldova in Romania. I’ve lost track of how many times people have tried to correct me on this, all of them foreigners…

romania-historical-provinces

I could have published individual posts of each place but that would have been tedious for me (and for you too). I know it was tedious for me when we visited these places, one after another, day after day, dealing with heat, huge crowds and the hospitality industry (you know, the three Hs of travel; they add together to form a fourth H which is a four-letter word)… but we had made a plan and we stuck to it. Romanians in general tend to make trips to these places yearly for religious reasons. We visited these places because of their historical and architectural value, so while we were there we saw as many as we could in the time we had allotted ourselves.

In this gallery of photographs (there are 134 of them), you will see images from the following places:

  • The wooden church in »ėurde»ôti (Maramure»ô), a UNESCO monument and also the highest wooden church in the world
  • Moldovi»õa Monastery
  • Sucevi»õa Monastery
  • Chilia lui Daniil Sihastrul
  • Putna Monastery
  • “Drago»ô VodńÉ” wooden church
  • Vorone»õ Monastery, famous for the blue used in its exterior murals, called Vorone»õ Blue
  • Humorul Monastery
  • Arbore Church
  • Dragomirna Monastery
  • Agapia Monastery
  • VńÉratec Monastery
  • Neam»õ Monastery
  • Secu Monastery
  • SihńÉstria Monastery

Since I arranged the photos in chronological order, you’ll see them just as they’re listed above. You’ll probably want to know which was my favorite place. Dragomirna Monastery, definitely! Enjoy the gallery and thanks for being a subscriber!

I kept things simple in terms of photo gear for this trip, because there were four of us in the car and I knew I’d have to deal with the 3Hs of travel I mentioned above. I shot mainly with my Canon EOS 5D and the EF 24-105mm f/4L lens. My backup camera was the Canon PowerShot G10.

Canon EOS 5D (front)

Canon EOS 5D

Canon EF 24-105mm f4L IS USM Lens

Canon EF 24-105mm f4L IS USM Lens

Canon PowerShot G10

Canon PowerShot G10

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Places

A hike through the hills of Moldova

These are photos I’ve taken during a couple of hikes through the hills near the village of Strugari in Moldova, Romania. Here’s a map of the area.

A map of the region around Strugari, Moldova

A map of the region around Strugari, Moldova

It was the middle of March (the 14th and 15th) and spring had just arrived. Most of the grass was dry and leaves hadn’t sprouted yet. As a matter of fact, no buds were even apparent on the branches of the trees in the area. A friendly little mutt that belonged to friends of ours accompanied me on the hikes (you can see him in the photos). A late snowfall introduced an element of adventure to one of the outings. It’s lovely to be in the middle of nowhere and to be suddenly surrounded by myriad falling snowflakes. A magical quiet sets in, sounds are muffled and a feeling of wonder takes over.

Enjoy the photos!

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Video Log

Finally, some snow!

After an unusually warm, humdrum winter in Romania, bereft of snow, we finally had some fairly heavy snowfall these past few days! I drove through a snowstorm the day before yesterday and when I got home, I got to enjoy the beautiful winter weather from inside our house, safe and warm.

I made a short vlog about this which you can watch here or on YouTube. Enjoy!

Raoul

Glad to be back home!

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I recorded this over the course of two days (12-13 march 2017) in Bucharest’s Sector 1, with a very nice view of Herastrau Park, courtesy of our hotel room at the Pullman. We were there for our spring expo. Enjoy!

It’s not often I wake up early enough to see the dawn. I usually work late into the night, because I find that’s when I can gather my thoughts and be at my most productive — when I’m alone, the noises of the day have subsided and the only sounds I hear are the reassuring churning of the hard drive platters in my Drobo and my own breath.

When I do manage to wake up early (or work through the night and into the dawn), I get these gorgeous, glorious views of the Earth waking up as that huge fireball called the Sun starts to light things up. Mind you, I’m not talking about the sunrise. It’s the dawn, also known as the daybreak. It’s when the darkness of the night starts to fade away and shapes begin to form out of the mist. It’s when things unseen become seen.

I thought I’d publish a gallery of various¬†photos I’ve taken in recent years of the dawn. Some of the photos are from places where I’ve lived, others are from places I visited and most are from the road. My wife and I would often just get in our car and drive to some town where we had business in the middle of the night, so we’d be there in the morning. The roads were quiet and it was an experience unto itself to be in the middle of nowhere, our car a capsule of civilization and warmth in an otherwise cold place at a cold time, its headlights eyes, peering out into the darkness and making sense of it. Now that we have a small daughter, there’s no night driving. We’re too exhausted. We’re happy to take¬†any and all sleep we can get. Which is what I’m going to do after publishing this post, because it’s way past midnight here.

This gallery isn’t exhaustive, it’s a work in progress (I hope I’m around for a long, long time to capture¬†countless more dawns on bits and bytes) but I think¬†it’s beautiful to look at and I hope you do too. Enjoy!

Places

The dawn

Gallery

Day 4 of our Italian road trip took us from Chioggia to Ravenna, Rimini and Grottammare, which is where we stopped for the night. Get a cup of coffee and get comfortable, there are 71 photos for you to enjoy here.

If you’d like to see the other posts from¬†our trip, here are days 1, 2 and 3 (part 1 and part 2); and here’s the overview.

Places

Italian road trip – Day 4 – Ravenna, Rimini and Grottammare

Gallery
A Guide To A Good Life, How To

How to fold your shirts (and organize your closet in the process)

Here’s how you can fold your shirts like a pro and save space in your closet while you’re at it. This way of folding them doesn’t cause creases, allowing you to stack them nicely on shelves in your closet or in your travel bag.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t enjoy lugging around large garment bags when traveling. I’d much rather have a rolling suitcase and be done with it. While I haven’t yet found a way to fold suits so I can do away with the garment bag entirely, at least I don’t have to put my shirts in it, meaning it’s lighter and easier to carry.

This video is part of The Elegant Gentleman series.

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Thoughts

A couple of suggestions for Waze

Waze

I’ve been using Waze for over a month and I love it. If you haven’t tried it yet, you should. It’s surprisingly accurate, even in a country where you wouldn’t think there’d be a lot of users, like Romania.

The traffic updates can get a little overwhelming in large urban areas like Bucharest and sometimes it doesn’t find an address I need, but overall, it’s a wonderful app and the idea of a user-driven (and updated) map is awesome. Live traffic alerts and automatic calculation of the best route based on current traffic conditions are awesome options (these used to cost a pretty penny with GPS devices and weren’t very good nor up-to-date).

Here’s a way to make Waze better: use the accelerometer in our iPhones to automatically determine if the road is unsafe, based on braking, swerving, stopping and yes, even driving (or falling) through potholes. I love being able to report a road incident but when I’m swerving through potholes and recently dug up roads (like the one between Medias and Sighisoara), I don’t have the time nor the multitasking brain cycles to tap on my phone and report a hole in the road. So doing this automatically and reporting it to the users would be a wonderful new addition to Waze. I’d love to get an alert on my phone as I’m driving through fog or rain, when the visibility isn’t great, telling me there’s a pothole ahead. And by the way, Waze, have you thought about hooking up weather info to the traffic reports?

One thing that always annoyed me with GPS devices is the constant repetition of stuff like “take the 2nd exit” or “turn left”. The new version of Waze seems to be doing the same thing. I’d love an option in the settings where I could specify that I’d like to be reminded about such things a maximum of two times (not 3 or 4 times…)

A big thanks to the Waze team for the awesome work!

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Places

Washington DC at Christmas time

These are photos taken on an evening walk in DC, during Christmas time, back in 2006. They should bring back memories for some of you, and if they don’t, they’ll give you a good idea of what to expect if you visit our nation’s capital in December.

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A Guide To A Good Life

I’ll have a regular coffee, please

Coffee… some say when you drink it, it’s like flogging a tired horse. Sometimes you need to do that — you need to push yourself a bit further and get that day’s work done. And sometimes you just want to savor a well-made cup of coffee. It’s a bit like meditation. You focus on one thing while you let the world flow around you.

It’s getting harder to find good coffee on the go in Romania. I used to get an espresso now and then, especially when driving at night. That was till I got tired of espressos that were too bitter, too bland or tasted like motor oil. It used to be you’d rarely find an espresso back in 2008 and 2009. Now everyone, including the random roadside stand, has an espresso machine and most taste terrible. To date, the best espresso I’ve had was at a little hotel on the beach in Ladispoli, Italy, back in 2009, and that says something about the quality of the espressos if in more than three years nothing even came close.

The thing about the espresso is that if you want a good one, you have to have a good espresso machine. And that machine has to be serviced regularly and constantly calibrated. You have to put in quality coffee in the right amount. But most restaurants and hotels forget these other things. They think that if they’ve got an espresso machine, they’re good to go. No, no, no. Not unless you want to sell crappy espressos.

So I’m not drinking espressos anymore. I’ve switched back to regular coffee. To my dismay, I’ve found out that most places don’t have filter coffee anymore. In the short span of three years, they’ve all stocked up on espresso machines and forgotten about regular coffee. Stop at any place in Romania but a five-star hotel and ask for it. You know what they’ll say? “Sorry, we don’t have any. But we can serve espressos. Would you like one?” To which my answer is easily guessed.

Given my experiences, I was pleasantly surprised when I had breakfast at a Swiss hotel next to Hanul lui Manuc in Bucharest, where I had what was quite possibly the best cup of filter coffee ever. Just as I was thinking it, my dad, with whom we were dining, exclaimed: “Wow, this is very good coffee!” I sure wish I could remember the name of the place but you can’t miss it, it’s right next to Hanul lui Manuc, the great historic inn, which by the way, doesn’t serve filter coffee or turkish coffee, only espresso, as if the espresso existed in the 1800s.

To make sure, we went back there just last week to have breakfast and sure enough, the coffee was just as delicious: perfectly flavored, not bitter, not watery, the right aftertaste, went down easy and made you want more. I called the waiter over, complimented them on their coffee and asked how they made it. In case you’d like to follow the same recipe, here it is: ground Lavazza coffee, 6 grams per 50 ml of water. They run it through a regular coffee maker, albeit a big one. That’s it. It’s so simple. Why aren’t others doing it?

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