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 Sphinxand 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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
At first, I thought Grand Canyon will remain a dream…
Every travel I plan, I always make sure that I have at least one memorable experience planned, a remembrance that will surely last and can be told over and over again. I take all the time to research for uncommon destination or activity, some of them I did by myself and some with friends. Regardless, I made sure it gives me that happiness, that smile and that satisfaction. To name a few, I had my first ever solo mountain hiking in South Korea, skydiving in Australia, tried my first ever sashimi in Japan (I do not eat raw food, so this is a big deal for me), first ever bus group tour in the US – that includes a whole lot of memorable experience, my first ever glimpse of Grand Canyon.
At first, I thought Grand Canyon will remain a dream. Well, some dreams do come true if you put your heart to it and I got lucky to have one of my dreams came into reality. Before going to the US, I was still hesitant to include this on my itinerary, but I muster the courage to go alone. A road trip with strangers that led me to this amazing place, breathtaking is even an understatement!
The trip took roughly 2.5 hours from Las Vegas. We left the hotel early in the morning, to catch the sunrise on the way, stopped at Hoover Dam to get some photos and breakfast, passed by an outlet store and stayed a couple of hours and reached Grand Canyon (West Pacific Rim) just before noon.
I have seen photos of the Hoover Dam from #Instagram before and I thought, it would be good to see that place as well, but during this trip, I thought it will just be another wishful thinking. But, life can really surprise you anytime, right?
Hoover Dam is on the border of Nevada and Arizona.
I kept looking at my watch the whole time as I cannot wait to reach Grand Canyon. I was thinking whether will it be worth the effort (who am I kidding???), or will it meet my expectation, all sorts of questions that made me more excited and anxious at the same time.
Then along the dusty road, I saw the SIGN and I knew we were almost there!
The trip was definitely worth it! The view is stunning, exquisite and I was speechless. Whenever I am in a place where I cannot find the right words to define the beauty, I was totally dazed and in awe!
The group chose West Pacific Rim over the South (they call in the “true” Grand Canyon) due to its close proximity to Las Vegas. Nevertheless, the view is majestic!
Although this side of the canyon is not part of the Grand Canyon National Park, it is still, Grand Canyon!
Grand Canyon West is open to the public from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm daily from October through March, and from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm daily from April through September. It is open every day of the year including all major holidays. (http://www.grandcanyon.net/west-rim)
Navigating is no problem, you can go from one point to another via the Hop-On-Hop-Off bus provided in the park. There are so many things to do in the park, but I only focused on 2 destinations – Eagle and Guano Point.
Wherever I looked, the view gave me chills and happiness inside which I cannot explain. I am always fond of nature, and I must say I got even teary-eyed because of the overwhelming feeling of being so blessed to ever witness such an amazing and miraculous creation.
This place is called Eagle Point because the formation of the rocks look like an eagle spreading its wings. Can you spot the eagle?
There were also replicas of the Native American – Hualapai Village, where you can go and see inside each “teepee”.
After walking for a couple of hours, I headed to the next destination.
Hike all the way up to see the stunning panoramic view of the Grand Canyon. This is by far the most majestic view I have ever seen. I know there are others, but this is my first time to see such an amazing rock formation and unending scenery of cliffs eroded by time.
There is also another stop at Hualapai Ranch but I did not go anymore.
This is totally worth the effort, the bumpy and dusty ride along the Nevada and Arizona stretch. I am grateful for this opportunity and for God who created such an amazing scenery, it fits its name, it is indeed, GRAND!
Have you been to Grand Canyon? How was your experience?
It always surprises me how life unravel itself. The things I least expect can give the purest happiness that surely is treasured for as long as I live…
“Drop everything now
Meet me in the pouring rain
Kiss me on the sidewalk
Take away the pain
‘Cause I see, sparks fly, whenever you smile…”
Sparks Fly by Taylor Swift
This song will always remind me of Los Angeles, the city where dreams can actually come true. There was that spark that hit me. Maybe because of the California sunset or the Hollywood sign, or meeting with my good friends or just because it’s California, as simple as that.
Blue sky, cool and breezy weather, stunning scenery of sunset and mountain ranges, and contrasting city vibe – made this trip interesting, memorable and a dream come true.
When I was younger, I have always thought of traveling but never imagined that this time will come. Traveling made me realize that I am living an extraordinary life. Not everybody has the chance to see the beauty of life and how amazing our world as I see it now. Slowly, I am realizing hidden dreams, to discover how amazing the world is and to live life to the fullest.
This adage somehow influenced my thinking about traveling around the world (this maybe far from reality but still hopeful). Unlike other travelers who quit their corporate jobs and pursued their dreams to travel, I personally have not considered that just yet.