Category Archives: Europe

Chasing Jack Frost (Winter) in Romania

From my previous blogs, I mentioned about my love for the fall season, and now I am sharing a new found love –

Snow! Winter! Extremely cold! in Romania

I never thought I would love the freezing, numbing and shivering winter.  I spent few months in Europe, and I was glad to experience the winter season. Well, it has its downside, but for me, because I rarely get to experience, I am okay with it.

So when my colleagues found out I am fascinated by it, they keep checking the weather forecast for me, when will the first snow come, whether I will get the chance to experience white Christmas, all sorts of news that made me more excited every day.

Few days before going on Christmas holiday, all of them tried to talk me out of being disappointed that there is no white Christmas. The temperature just went up all of a sudden and thin snow, and my dream of white Christmas melted away.

The dream of making a snowman and snow angel just vanished. But, I was still optimistic, there is always the mountainside, so I just have to go there and have a tremendous snowy, cold and wintry Christmas.

Gabi and I arrived in Romania and managed to see a glimpse of some snow in the forest which melted the next morning. 

So then to the mountain, we go!

We drove about two hours from Sighisoara, for a short stay in Prahova Valley, where you can visit Bucegi Mountain. This mountain is part of the southern Carpathian mountain range.

The mountain can be reached by taking the cable car either from Busteni or Sinaia towns. We nearly did not make it, cause there was a technical problem on the cable car due to frosted cable and the strong wind for the past few days.

Because Gabi was so eager to show the beauty of the Romanian mountain range, we waited patiently for 2 hours; then the technician finally called us in.

When we reached the top of the mountain…

What a breathtaking sight!

At a higher elevation is the Bucegi Plateau, where wind and rain have turned the rocks into spectacular figures such as the Sphinx and Babele.

The Sphinx
Babele

Trudging through the knee-deep snow was a struggle for me. But the view just gets me all the time. As usual, this is again another moment to be grateful. As I close my eyes and say a little prayer, God has been so wonderful. He just never gets tired of granting all my prayers.

 

Indeed, a real hidden beauty!

XOXO

Jhes

Travel with me to Transylvania, Romania

Transylvania has always been associated with vampires and Dracula for many centuries. But unknown to many, this place is a hidden wonder in Eastern Europe. It is rich in history, surrounded by scenic landscape and preserved in a medieval era, which makes it attractive to few.

View of Sighisoara from Villa Franka

I got the chance to visit Sighisoara, a city in Transylvanian region. It immediately captivated my random traveler’s heart.

This whole place is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The walled citadel is home of preserved medieval and colorful houses, cobbled alleys and of course the rumored house where Dracula was born, now a restaurant.

Preserved medieval and picturesque houses
The house where Dracula was born is now a restaurant.

The city is very colorful and vibrant, mixed with an authentic medieval feel.  The people are friendly and accommodating. You can easily explore and walk around the old town; you will never lose your way.

The walk to the old town is very relaxing, so quiet and peaceful. A place where you can take your time and be immersed in a different era.

Sighișoara is one of the few fortified towns that are still inhabited. The town is made up of two parts. The medieval stronghold was built on top of a hill and is known as the “Citadel” (Cetate). The lower town lies in the valley of Târnava Mare river.

view from the clock tower
Sighișoara Clock Tower (Turnul cu Ceas). The landmark of the city is a 64 m-high tower built in the 13th century.

 

Sighisoara is one of the most colorful places I’ve ever been and still amazed how they can preserve the old houses for so many years.

I am hopeful that this place will receive as many praises and recognition from tourists it deserves.

If you are traveling to Eastern Europe, make sure to include a day in Sighisoara.

 

XOXO

Jhes

Chasing Aurora: Iceland Ring Road Trip

Can you imagine being on the road with this exquisite view? That is Iceland. You have everything you need at one glance. There was a tagline that really suits Iceland.

A rarity in a world of plenty.

We only had few days to spend in Iceland (Reykjavik), just visited the famous destinations, but it made me feel so at home.

Skógafoss is a waterfall situated on the Skógá River in the south of Iceland at the cliffs of the former coastline.

How can you even resist its beauty? It captivated my heart in an instant. The moment we drove out of the city, the landscape made me in awe. You see different scenes which are not usually seen in other parts of Europe (at least to my knowledge and to what I have seen so far).

Jökulsárlón is a glacial lagoon, bordering Vatnajökull National Park in southeastern Iceland.
Gullfoss is a waterfall located in the canyon of Olfusa river in southwest Iceland
The Glacier Lagoon flows through a short waterway into the Atlantic Ocean, leaving chunks of ice on a black sand beach.

I can go back to these places every single day just to breathe the fresh air, feel the cold breeze and just feel one with nature. These destinations can be reached easily. Reykjavik is easy to navigate, and you can use even google maps to go to different places.

Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach, famous for its deadly waves.
The small peninsula, or promontory, Dyrhólaey is located on the south coast of Iceland, not far from the village Vík.

After a long day drive, the best part of the trip is chasing Aurora!

At that point, I believed that if it is meant to be, no matter what, you will get it. And a miracle happened. After almost  two days of searching and chasing, the northern lights were evasive. I was on the verge of losing my hope and accepting the fact that I will not witness one of the wonders of Iceland and one of God’s miracles this time. There it was, dancing under the moonlight. Pitch dark, clear sky and cold breeze!

THE NORTHERN LIGHTS APPEARED!

I was so grateful that Gabi was able to set the camera and took some fantastic shots of the Northern Lights.

A few minutes later, off we go and pack to leave the next day.

XOXO

Jhes

Credits to the photographer: Gabriel Brandusa

Travel with me to the Land of Fire and Ice: Iceland

Quick travel over the long weekend away from deadlines, meetings, and emails. Off we go to the land of fire and ice, Iceland.

I am in Europe (Germany to be exact) for a 6-month assignment, and one of the things I wanted to check on the bucket list is the northern lights. And with the short stay in Europe and less than 3 hours flight would make this dream come true.

With the last sunny day of 2017 and the long weekend in Germany, perfect for a weekend getaway, Gabi and I planned the 4-day trip to Iceland. Mostly visiting the usual tourist destination and of course to chase the Aurora.

I flew to Manchester because the flights going to Reykjavik is much cheaper compared to the price departing from Munich. I do not know either, but to save some travel cost, I did it anyway.

We arrived in Reykjavik, and the first thing we did was to get the rental car (from SADcar) and visited the famous Blue Lagoon.

To be honest, Blue Lagoon is overstated and too commercialized. Since this is one of the recommendation and Gabi wanted to go and experience, we tried when we arrived. We booked the 6 PM timeslot, and as expected this is the most frequented destination in Iceland, so there are a lot of tourists but definitely not crowded because the area is also huge to accommodate a lot of people.

Blue Lagoon for me is something like “OK, I have experienced it, and will not come back.” kind of experience. It was not something extraordinary for me. It is not my preference and I respect those who would like to go back over and over to experience it.

Then as the night gets colder and colder, we headed to our hotel in Reykjavik Natura Hotel. We booked this hotel because of its proximity to the city (although we didn’t get the chance to roam around much). When we arrived, I did not know (or my oversight) the location is at the airport, which could have been a downside because Gabi is a light sleeper and very sensitive to noise. Good thing, he liked the hotel room and the windows must be thick as it was quiet and we always have a very sound sleep during the night.

We have 3 more days to explore the country and more information about the trip will be up on my next blog.

 

XoXo

Jhes

 

 

 

My longest 3 hours – an experience worth every second

If only I could make 3 hours into 3 days, I would have done it. It would have been a wonderful experience. My feeling for this trip or place is beyond words, but this side trip is really worth every second, every step and every sweat!

I must admit, I am not a Sound of Music fan (I am not a musical fan, in general). Have I seen the musical? movie? cartoon? I have seen the cartoon version, Yes. I cannot even remember whether I have watched the movie. I am not a classical music fan either, I am not familiar with Mozart, I only encountered his name from one of the literature subject I took a long time ago.

Without any background or whatsoever, will I enjoy?

Why Sound of Music and Mozart?

Continue reading My longest 3 hours – an experience worth every second

Work + Leisure: Munich, Germany

So now here comes the fun part of my job that requires me to travel and attend meeting overseas.

I had few days of Product Team meeting in Penzberg, Germany, where one of our manufacturing site is located. And as always and whenever the schedule permits, I always take the opportunity to visit some places. I still have leave credits and the boss said it was OK, so why not extend and explore Germany and Austria.

Continue reading Work + Leisure: Munich, Germany