Wednesday, July 1, 2015


What to do when your friends have May birthdays the same week as you, everyone is up for a trip and they live in the U.S., Europe and the Middle East? Meet in Romania and go hiking in the Carpathian Mountains :). I do feel very lucky to have friends that want to go on these crazy adventures and that I can.

[I just wrote this whole post and the only part to save was the few sentences above. So frustrating :(. Take two.]

We booked a self guided hike for four days. Basically the local travel agent made all arrangements but just didn't accompany us on hike. So we had places to stay, shuttle drop off and pick up, tickets paid for and directions (although not always the best directions).

Our day 1 hike was to Seven Ladders Canyon. The name comes from the seven ladders you have to climb to get through the canyon :).

This was the biggest ladder and there was water running through the canyon. The ladders had been upgraded in the last year or two and felt pretty sturdy and safe. 

After the canyon, we hiked up to a little guest house type thing. It's pretty rustic but you can stay the night and there's a limited menu. It is not at the peak, so a few in the group hiked further on to the peak and a few of us (me included) rested at the house and had a snack. It was pretty empty in there, so the others decided a nap would be a good call while we waited.

They had two huge white dogs which reminded me of some dogs an old neighbor had. 

Day 2 started with a steep climb up. We tried to have plenty of fun along the way :). 

Up, up and up. 

This is where we only had directions and no map. We had to follow a trail and eventually would show up on the map. There were lots of group consultations that slowed us down a bit. This was by far our longest day and we can only figure because we weren't 100% sure of our route until at least after lunch. A "rocky area" can look like a lot of different things :). 

The views were beautiful though as was the weather. We overlooked all these little country towns. 

Our day 3 destination. We started early to avoid the rain but still hiked through drizzle for at least an hour. But then the sun came out and it turned out to be a really great day. We arrived early enough for another peak ascent by a couple in our group. That peak was a little more treacherous and I was happy they found another small group with an experienced local to tag along with. 

This was our bunk for the night - right above the dining area, so nice and toasty. It was pretty cold outside. I took a nap and we played a lot of uno until dinner and bedtime. 

Day 4 was a quick hike back into town and then we toured Bran's Castle - famed as a Dracula Castle. It was pretty small but had a nice courtyard. 

We also went to an old fortified city. Inside is mostly ruins and souvenier shops but the wall itself looked pretty neat. There were also some people there - other tourists. Kind of dressed in anime or fantasy and doing some sort of photo or video shoot. Interesting to say the least... :)

Then we headed to Bucharest (not to be mistaken for Budapest). Above was the parliament building lit up at night. Later on a walking tour we found out it is something like 70% vacant. It is huge and from communist times - so a bit controversial on how to use it. It was the site (or its basement was) of a Top Gear show. They were racing around in the basement. I want to say it may be second to only the Pentagon in size.

Before the walking tour, we tried to get on the hop-on, hop-off tour bus. By this time, everyone but Cindy and I had headed home. We waited for 30-40 minutes I think before we figured out the tour bus didn't start for the season for another week :(. Oops. 

Not to fear, we just got some steps in instead. Turns out Bucharest is manageable on foot. 

We had a great lunch. Also a couple amazing dinners during the hike. Also one pretty disappointing dinner :). 

They had lots of very small churches but not the huge cathedrals you find in the rest of Europe. They are still a fairly religious country, though not as much as in the past. 

The insides were beautiful. 

For our extra nights, Cindy and I booked on Air B&B and this was the square where we met our contact for the apartment we rented. Turns out it belongs to a young female lawyer who is in the U.S. a lot. She had her Harvard Law degree on the apartment wall. I was impressed :). 

A statue of Vlad the Impaler (aka Dracula). Romania was always in the middle of wars. Finally Vlad stepped up and started impaling tons of enemies and left them on the road to the city in order to scare off more enemies. It worked for a bit. Impaling is a crazy horrible thing because when done correctly, you skewer the person through the core of their body without hitting any vital organs. The person lives and is tortured longer that way. 

Bucharest was a fun city but you can see the change from old to new, sometimes next to each other on the street. 

We found an amazing bakery our last day in town. It was soooo good :). I love it when you happen upon little gems like that. 

We went for a bike ride to a huge park they have, complete with lake and several playgrounds and restaurants. Afterwards a stop for ice cream was in order :). 

This was painted on the side of our apartment building. From the outside and even hallway, the place looked a little sketch. But, the apartment was remodeled and decorated very nicely. It was a great stay for a couple extra nights. 

No comments:

Post a Comment