Vacation journal – The beauty of Romania (I)

If i had a penny for every time someone¬†told me: “Romania is a beautiful country, too bad people live there” I’d already be living on my own private island ūüôā . All I can say is I agree with this statement.

Romania is a gorgeous country when it comes to landscape and it has so much¬†potential and resources that you can’t help wonder why isn’t doing better than it does.

Focusing on full half of the glass, I will present those places I’ve recently been to, which are worth more than just a visit.

TransfńÉgńÉrńÉ»ôan¬†

The second-highest paved road in Romania, built as a strategic military route, that stretches 90¬†km from¬†north to south across the tallest sections of the Southern Carpathians. It’s probably one of the most beautiful places in Romania.

DSC_6938DSC_6928DSC_6919

Balea Lake

A glacier lake situated at 2,034 m altitude. Absolutely gorgeous area.

DSC_6956

¬†Transalpina –¬† The King’s Road

Is one of the¬†highest roads of the Carpathian Mountains. It connects Novaci¬†to SebeŇü.

The road was built under King Carol II and rebuilt during World War II by German troops and it’s, in my opinion, the most beautiful road in the whole Country.

There are certain areas when, because of the climb, you can’t really see where the road continues, so you only see the sky. Also, if you are lucky enough to be there on a partial sunny day, you will notice the clouds are below you.

To describe it in one word: breathtaking!

DSC_7084

DSC_7118

DSC_7180

Ochiul Beiului Lake

After 15 minutes hike through the forest, you reach the beautiful blue lake, situated at an altitude of 310 m with a depth of 3.6 m. It has carst origins and doesn’t freeze during the winter because the river‚Äôs water constantly fills it.

Local legend: 

” It‚Äôs been said that a beautiful girl used to live in this area when an ottoman young man falls in love with her, kidnaps her and dishonors her. The girl chooses to take her own life and the tears of the youngster form the lake that we know today by the name of Ochiul Beiului.

Another legend tells us that the beautiful son of a pasha falls in love with a girl against his father‚Äôs wishes. The pasha kills the girl and the boy sheds tears for her and decides to take his own life as well. From the boy‚Äôs tears and sufferings a wonderful blue lake is formed. “

DSC_7384

La Vaioaga Waterfall 

It’s situated in Beusnita National Park and it’s an absolutely gorgeous waterfall.

DSC_7333

Bigar Waterfall

Situated on the national road 57 B, between Oravita and Bozovici villages, to 45 Paralel. The water falls from a cliff, which is covered with moss. It is said to be the most beautiful waterfall in the country.

DSC_7265

Rucar

Leaving National Road 1 behind, heading towards Rucar village, we meet an amazing landscape.

DSC_5044DSC_4947

DSC_4655DSC_4616DSC_5059

 Rasnov Fortress

Built between 1211 and 1225 the fortress was built as part of a defence system for the villages exposed to outside invasions.

DSC_4465

Fortress Valley Cave (¬†PeŇütera Valea CetńÉŇ£ii )

Located near R√ĘŇünov, BraŇüov County, the cave¬†was first opened in 1949. After a few minutes through the forest, you will reach the cave’s entrance.¬†Due to the amazing acoustic of the cave, it used also for classical music concerts. Absolutely beautiful place, in my book.

DSC_4504DSC_4528 DSC_4554

Cheia

You will have to squeeze between the beautiful mountains, and enjoy a breathtaking view.

DSC_4701 DSC_4705 DSC_4687

So, pack¬†your backpack and come by ūüôā Mother Nature provides the entertainment!

Saying goodbye to a wonderful team

Working for 2 years in the same office creates very strong¬†friendships.¬†With all the ups and downs, one thing is for sure, even if I won’t miss everything about my job, I will definitely miss my friends.

Never goodbye. It’s¬†see you later!

1,000,000 reasons to miss you guys, in pictures

For all those beautiful memories filled with laughter and joy

1 8DSC094952

105511016

5

710

4

11

3

SL7325191450796photo 2santa 2DSC_0298 DSC_4204 IMAG0042

SL732529DSC_0108580342

For all the pranks and ‘special’¬†farewells¬†

16

17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20140401_125913

IMAG055810603796

For all those funny notes and special gifts

IMAG0502IMAG054920140505_11530020140319_10483320140318_14305820140214_16503720140318_171944

 

 

 

 

Thank you for supporting me and making me smile everyday! You are absolutely amazing people and I’m very honored to call you my friends.

Lots of love,

Loredana

xo

Cycling in Bucharest – Extreme Survival

Ever since I can remember, I’ve been a very active person, constantly involved in all type of activities, switching¬†from jogging to basketball to swimming to rollerblading to hiking to Pilates and others.

As traveling, reading and getting informed always opens your mind, I wanted a change in lifestyle,¬†to pollute less, exercise more and stay healthy. Having said all this, I’ve decided¬†a few month ago, to start cycling, like most people do in any civilized country from the West. But this isn’t easy in a country where the national sport is sitting on a bench in the park and listening to loud music on the phone speakers while eating sunflower seeds and making fun of the people who exercise.

Extreme Survival – How to Guide?

You want to become a cyclist in Romania? Then you have to be ready to fight the drivers who turn you into a moving target, nasty looks and stupid questions like: ‘Why don’t you just get a driver’s licence and drive a car like a normal person does?‘ ( news: I already have one!).

To make it even more interesting, there is no such things as bike paths in Bucharest. Besides this, riding the bike on the side of the road puts you in danger, as passengers open the car doors without any warning, drivers turn left or right without looking into their side mirrors, and pack of strays try to bite your legs off.

In a country where everyone drives only thinking about themselves ( and sometimes not even this much) cyclists have a very hard time! It’s not a day in Bucharest in which¬†I don’t witness an accident and see many more about to happen, being avoided in the last minute.

After getting the bicycle, I’ve spend half a day on the internet trying to figure out where can I cycle safe in the capital city, like you do in any other European city, on a bike path. Hours later, the answer: you can’t! You either cycle in the park ( for a beginner is ready hard when needing to avoid unpredictable dogs and kids) or on smaller roads of very poor quality ( cracks and street bikes just don’t go together) or the only bike path in Bucharest, a very small one, which looks like this.

The choice you have to make in Bucharest: shall I risk hitting a dog/child in the park OR get my wheel stuck in a crack in the perfect Romanian concrete from side streets or smaller roads OR hit a pole/car on the famous bike path above?

Decisions, decisions …

Proud Cyclist

As every change always starts with yourself, ignoring all of the above, it was time to find the right bicycle, MY bicycle, and¬†I’m sure¬†the right choice has been made.

1061767

And I couldn’t be more proud. I feel like a kid, who finally got the desired toy, when I ride¬†my new baby.¬†Now I can’t say I’m an expert when it comes to bicycles, but she’s definitely a work of art!

It was complicated to learn how to ride it properly ( the bicycle is wicked fast so it took me a few hours to master it), and the bad road quality, mixed with the constant stress of being hit by a car or hitting a pedestrian or a puppy, made it even harder. But, practice makes perfect!

It’s been less than a month now, and after 100 km of riding it, I’m happy to say the only problem I had was with a fence which jumped in front of my bike when I passed by it ( this is exactly how it happened and I stick to my story! ūüôā ). Even so, I try to ride on¬†small side roads, parks and forests, later in the evening, when the chances of getting into conflicts with the traffic or pedestrians are significantly smaller. Other option I’ve found, was to travel by car to a remote location, and cycle on the secondary roads in the area.¬†Ideal? Not in the least, but is better than no cycling at all.

My biggest wish for Romania: a change in mentality. You are not ‘cool’¬†if you make fun of joggers/cyclists and you won’t become any ‘cooler’ if you drive a car and show no respect for the other people in traffic. I wait¬†for the moment when people¬†will start driving conscious about other¬†traffic participants and see the benefits of cycling: less traffic jams, health improvement, cleaner environment.

Morocco – the trip of a lifetime

I said this before, and I say it again – As long as you have this, it really doesn’t matter:

Copyright Loredana Dobre - Jan 2014

When I first got my passport, I felt like a whole new world just opened its gates and invited me in. Travelling for me is always an amazing experience, which gives me new eyes to see the world with, and a free heart to experience the surroundings. As Danny Kaye said, “To Travel Is to Take a Journey Into Yourself“. Meeting new people, learning about a new culture, helped me find myself in more than one way, and this is why I like to travel as much as possible. Every trip made me richer in a way in which money will never be able to.

Why Morocco?

Ever since I was younger, I started dreaming about experiencing the desert ( seeing the camels, meetings the Berbers), the food, the music, the landscape. When I told my family and friends I wanted to travel to Africa, the reactions weren’t very positive ( “What about riots, disease, kidnappings?” ). But, how do you stop a derailing train ūüôā ? In the end, life begins when you let go of your comfort zone! My heart told me I should be there, so, I decided to go for it.

Arriving in Morocco

Starting from up in the sky, you can see the difference in landscape and colors between Europe and Africa. Sandy, rocky, wild, and extremely beautiful. Leaving Romania behind (negative temperatures, wind, snow) and arriving in a place where you feel the warmth of the sunlight on your skin, palm trees and orange trees next to the airport, it’s an amazing experience on it’s own. The gates to an amazing trip were declared open!

Europe VS Africa

  DSC_0965DSC_0959

Fez -country’s cultural and spiritual centre

The first city to welcome my arrival in Morocco, Fez! And it felt like home, right away. My first contact with a Moroccan house, gave me a wonderful feeling inside. The combination of mosaic work, wood, fabrics, colors, takes you on a trip in time on it’s own.

DSC_1050DSC_1003

Warm people, hospitality, mint tea, fresh food cooked with a lot of heart and dedication. What else can you ask for?

DSC_1477One thing is for sure, if you go to Morocco and you say you love their music and you love to dance, this translates into a party. Whoo hoo! And my new friend, Said, planned it all perfectly! He found someone who can play music for us, took me on a shopping trip in the Medina, to get authentic Moroccan food cooked with so much love, got the mint tea ready and the party started. Even if it might sound weird, I’ve always dreamed to have someone play live music for me somewhere in Morocco, so I can belly dance. And this dream came true…DSC_1482

DSC_1076I love to cook, so obviously one of my wishes was to see a Moroccan dish being cooked, and learn¬†some tricks from a local. This was also turned into reality. Some of the Moroccan guests from Marrakesh, staying in the hotel, also musicians, were passing by through Fez, while I was there, and invited me in the kitchen to cook Tanjia with them, and listen to their music. I’ve learned the spices, tasted everything and absorbed the whole experience like a sponge.

I consider myself very lucky and honored to have been invited into their lives, and learn from a real master, how such a complex dish is made. Many thanks for making my experience in Fez, so enjoyable!

Atlas Mountains

How do you go though all 4 seasons in one day? By leaving Fez, crossing the Atlas Mountains, heading towards Merzouga, of course. We went from rain, to snow, to sunny in only a few hours. And, I was lucky enough to experience a snowfall in the mountains.

Now, I don’t know about you, but when I think about Morocco I think about heat and nice weather, so this was a total shock for me. What was even more shocking is to stop the car next to a forest, in the mountains, and have monkeys coming down from the trees! Beautiful animals!

 DSC_1584DSC_1551

The desert

And we continue our journey down the mountains….and in a few minutes, we leave the snow behind and enter a gravel-desert. In the middle of nowhere, we find a super nice restaurant, with WIFI?! and a super friendly fireplace, waiting anxious to warm my frozen hands.

I was questioning if we’ll ever get to the sand dunes or not. The location was beautiful but wasn’t exactly what I had in mind, when thinking about the desert. We keep on driving, and then…..They appear:

DSC_1851

WOW! Sand duneeees! And there are as high as a building!

DSC_1865

We arrive at Merzouga!

In this small village, 50 kilometers from the Algerian border, we leave the car behind and jump on the camel, for a night in the middle of the desert.

DSC_2059

Saying Assalamu Alaikum to my camel, Bob

What I’ve found out when arriving at Merzouga is: those scarfs, are not for fashion. You simply need them! Crazy wind started soon after our arrival, and in the desert, sand in your eyes and mouth is not fun. I was ‘very lucky’ to experience rain in the desert. Yes, rain! In a place where it rains twice/year, I managed to be there on one of those two days.

Now I don’t know about you (in case you’ve ever had the change to ride a camel), but I’ve tried to sit on it in all possible ways, and none managed to make me feel comfortable. What made the ride even more exciting was the moment when Bob decided to trip and fall face first into the sand, with me on his back. After looking at me, and breathing out deeply, we continued the¬†journey. With an aching bottom, sand in my eyes, and a hurt ego after my camel called me chubby (in less words than this hahaha¬†) we arrived at the tents.

In the Berber’s camp, we managed to get to know the locals a bit better. They warmed our hearts with their music and good food. Amazing is that they didn’t go to school, but they speak 4 foreign languages, not perfectly, but they start a conversation. Using all the language skills available, I had an amazing evening.

1781255Going to bed was really interesting, as combing the rain with very low temperatures, got me from my normal routine of sleeping in my pajamas, to sleeping with my hiking boots on, jeans, 2 blouses, a jacket and a scarf … Suddenly, sleeping outside with Bob seemed like not such a bad idea!

Waking up a few hours later, the storm was long past us, the wind stopped and the stars were absolutely fascinating. It’s unbelievable how bright they shine and how big they look like from a place where there is zero light from close by cities. With camera batteries dead from the very low temperature, we¬†headed¬†back to Merzouga, before the sunrise.

DSC_2093

Sunrise in the desert Рwith our Berber guide

1624351_10203175647378626_2002751521_n1063312_10203175647858638_276923302_n 

1743298_10203175648618657_660933070_n

With my new buddies

 Ouarzazate РThe door of the desert

Home of Morocco’s biggest film studios¬†where movies¬†such as The Mummy, Gladiator, Kingdom of Heaven, and others were shot, as was the TV series Game of Thrones.

DSC_2558

The fortified city of A√Įt Benhaddou, UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987, the place where we were invited in a Berber home, leaves you breathless. You look at the enormous Ksar, and you still can’t believe people still live there! The nice Berber told us all about his carpets business, and served the never missing Moroccan tea.

Gorges Du Dades

DSC_2732

The road runs from Ouarzazate and stretched to the east to Tineghir. Heading towards Marrakesh, we drove through stunning desert landscapes and villages through the Dades Valley. It left like traveling through a smaller scale Grand Canyon!

Marrakesh

First contact with Marrakesh, late in the evening, when the Jemaa El Fna is at the highest activity level, was confusing, to put it mildly. Very busy city center, crazy traffic which goes from donkeys, to bikes, to scooters, to cars, to trucks, on very narrow streets, making sharp turns in front of stores, or between the carpets on which people sell products. Jemaa El Fna is a mix of restaurants (street food), clothing stores, snake charmers, henna painters, hotels, and others. All the food stands are opened only in the evening; during the day, they simply vanish, until sunset, when they magically reappear.

DSC_3871

When you first arrive there, you will feel a bit overwhelmed if you are not used to having cars and bikes on the sidewalk, driving fast close by you (living in Romania, gave me some serious training when it comes to this hahaha, and even so, it took some adjustment). After a bit of walking though, you just get into that rhythm, you are absorbed by the smell, the colors, the music, the people, the entire atmosphere, and don’t even notice the traffic anymore.

Jardin Majorelle

DSC_3413

To describe it in one word: unreal. Stunning plants and colors! A little green oasis in the middle of a very busy city.

Essaouira

DSC_2921

On our way to Essaouira we stopped in the area where argan trees grow and argan oil is made. I’ve never been more surprised, than when I saw beautiful goats sitting in a tree. Absolutely amazing!
DSC_2862
While looking at the process of making argan oil, I’ve realized the price is correct, even if at a first glance it seems expensive. You have to put so much work into extracting just a small bottle of oil, that the price is more than justified.

Leaving the argan trees behind us, we reached our destination – A place you definitely shouldn’t miss when going to Morocco! This city at the Atlantic Ocean, situated in a fishing harbor, set my mind and heart free and brought me the peace so very much needed.

DSC_3060

Essaouira is home to many small arts and crafts businesses, like wood-carving. Being a harbor city, this means besides a lovely beach, you will find fresh sea food. This makes Essaouira one of tourist’s favorite destinations in Morocco. Besides small arts and crafts, it is also well known for the fish market. What you can do, is choose the fish you want to eat, and then ask a restaurant to cook it for you. And so I did…

Back home

Packing to come back home was a hilarious experience. With a very small backpack, quite a bit of clothes, a few small gifts I’ve got for my friends and family, and a tajine I just couldn’t leave behind in the store, I had to make them all fit…somehow. So, let’s get dressed. How do: 3 pairs of pants, 3 blouses and 2 jackets sound to you? :)) …I couldn’t even bend over, or sit down without some¬†effort, but hey, I did got the tajine home in one piece!

It’s been a few months since I came back from Morocco, but I would go back there in a heartbeat! The people, the landscape, the music, the food, everything combined into such an amazing experience. I don’t have any regrets about this trip, except ending too soon. It was a journey which got me back in touch with myself, a trip in which I’ve meet wonderful persons and learned about a fascinating culture. If you are not sure about going there or not, my advice is: don’t hesitate! Nothing to lose, but everything to gain.

Painting – a part of my heart, on a piece of paper

‚ÄúI dream my painting and I paint my dream.‚ÄĚ –¬†Vincent van Gogh

DSC_68866

Painting for me is not something I do, but a place I go to whenever I my mind searches for peace.

After a few years in which I stopped painting, I’ve decided to go back to probably my first hobby. Here’s part of my paintings made in 2014, so far:

March 20th, 2014 – My first painting on a canvas

Man’s best friend. A beautiful white dog, guarding the house and gardens.

20140320_0756144

May 3rd, 2014

‚ÄúThe clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.‚ÄĚ –¬†John Muir

A painting showing two gorgeous elks.

20140503_1708522

June 9th, 2014

The Canadian sky, at dusk.

20140609_1512233

June 27th, 2014

A gorgeous¬†Spix’s Macaw chick, in his natural habitat.

20140627_2100311

 June 30th, 2014

At the request of a very good friend of mine, a black horse, galloping on the seashore.

20140630_2028266

July 26th-27th, 2014

Crazy colors to show the powerful connection between these two furry babies.

20140726_1356411

Mesmerized kitties looking at the full moon bringing life to the dark sky.

20140726_1632100

August 28th, 2014

Little Remy from Ratatouille movie. The perfect birthday gift for my dear friend, Alexandra. Happy birthday! I hope this painting made your day.

20140823_1638311

That’s all for now. I hope you enjoyed my work.

For all the paintings I’ve used¬†acrylic paint, an¬†extremely versatile and fast-drying paint.

Please feel free to leave a comment below. I’d love to hear your opinions and suggestions.


Contact me to buy an original painting or a very high quality reproduction on canvas 


If you enjoyed this post, you should Follow Me On Twitter twitter-follow-button and Like My Page on Facebook Like_Me_Facebook_buttonfor more updates.

When it doesn’t float your boat…

dreamss

Maybe I was a different type of teenager, but to be honest, when I finished high school I had no idea what to do next. What made the choice even harder is that with the right amount of work and dedication, I could be good at pretty much anything. Putting so much passion into what I do, got me from one field to another, in just a few years, confusing me even further about what I really want to do in life.

After getting my first paid office job (previously I worked as a volunteer for almost 1 year), I was extremely excited to finally earn my own money, learn new things and meet new people. I was lucky enough to start working in a multicultural company, which gave me the opportunity to improve my language skills, interact with people from different backgrounds and cultures, and broaden¬†my horizon. Even if I was a bit disappointed with myself for not getting a job in the fields for which I studied for (I first started learning programming-since 5th grade, then I went to Law School and got my degree which offered me the amazing opportunity to work for an NGO and finally UNHCR), I was very happy, and didn’t doubt my choice.

The problem with working in such a company is that while increasing the number of employees(which more than doubled since I got hired) the company turned from friendly, to ‘Romanian’. When you put the power to run the company into the hands of locals, the company’s culture goes very fast from foreigner to national, which means a dramatic change in vision(the change happened in approximately 1 year after I got hired). Different managers, different teams, different rules. For me, this meant not enjoying the same rights as other colleagues did, and being constantly brought down about my work performance.

Working in such an stressful environment for about 1 year, brings your spirit down and kills your enthusiasm and motivation. The question is…. What do you do?

The solution I’ve found

Being intellectually active since as long as I can remember, I really constantly feel the need of a challenge, of gaining other skills and applying my knowledge. After thinking about what I can do to keep this up, I turned back to computer programming, my first passion. For months, I’ve studied after work, on my own, but without any concrete results. The high level of stress, combined with lack of time, didn’t get me that far, but I never gave up. In the end, even a bit of progress is better than no progress!

The questions which were always on my mind: When do you take the plunge? When is the right moment to switch jobs? When are you ready?
The answer: You are never ready, and you will never be ready if you keep on waiting for things to happen.

So, about 2 weeks ago, I’ve decided to go after life, instead of waiting for life to come to me.

The decision making

At the beginning of the company, this would have been a very hard decision for me: to quit the job I’ve worked so hard to get. Even when it got difficult and stressful, I’ve postponed this moment for as much as I could, thinking about what will the company do without me, how will my colleagues manage without me(silly thinking process). Also, I had no idea how to do it, even if it sounds stupid. I felt like I was putting the company into a difficult position and also showing them that I am not loyal. One day though, my boss made it easier for me, saying ‘no one is irreplaceable’. A mix of these words and the constant stress factor made me realize I am doing it wrong. Being 25 and wasting time on a consuming job, isn’t the right way to go about life. I am loyal, but I shouldn’t allow someone to constantly take advantage of this. Loyalty is great, as long as it’s directed towards the right persons, which wasn’t the case anymore.

The right moment for anything is NOW!

But what if NOW is the moment in which you are left without an income, and a fat chance that you won’t make it into the field you want to switch to? Well….what other better moment to find out, if not now? Investing more time into something which doesn’t bring out the best in you, which doesn’t help you grow, and evolve and become someone better than you are today, it’s simply just time wasted. You might lose an income, but you might gain something bigger than that: peace, balance, time, yourself. Once you are at peace, you can focus on your real passions, and improving your skills will become so much easier than it was when being in a stressful environment. This will get you to the point where you grow, improve and, most likely, earn more than you did before. In the end, our most precious possession is our TIME. This is something we won’t ever have more of, only less, and you can’t buy it, at any cost.

Even if the new career won’t earn you more money than the previous one, I wonder if it’s all about the money. Stress is such a huge factor in your mental and physical¬†health, that we end up working to earn more money, to get loans, to live a lifestyle we can’t really afford, to get even more stressed because of the financial issues, to alter our health, and to work more or get more loans to fix out health.

I’m sure it has to be a better way to manage my time. So, keeping this in mind, I went ahead and quit my job. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still very happy I had this job. This experience taught me so much, much about what I shouldn’t do if I ever have so much power in my hands. Also I’ve learned a lot about myself. Being in an office 8 hours/day or more, with the same people, all with different worldviews, with different problems and mentalities, for months and months, gives you a chance to see them at the highest and at the lowest moments of their life. For some persons, the lowest moments, bring out the ‘best’ in them, and this got me to realize a lot of times, that’s not how I want to be like. Many times, such experiences were like a mirror, in which I got to see all my faults, and realize where I go wrong in the relations with my friends and family. This helped me very much with changing things about myself, which I’m very thankful for, and also proud.

Getting ready for the career

With a whole new way of seeing things, a new set of skills(still work in progress), and a brand new attitude, I get ready for the future. Before quitting my job, I was full of doubts and fear. Now I am confident, positive and excited! In my head, sky is not the limit. Not even close. I can conquer the sky and more, through programming…This is what I really want! I want to be able to not only tell the computer what to do for me, but also to show it how to do it.

After going through the basics of HTML, CSS, JAVASCRIPT, JQUERY, PHP, MYSQL, I’ve realized I want to do big things. Being so creative, I want to do more than just programming. I want to combine all my skills, passion and creativity and turn them into a new career. For now, the possibilities are endless. With the support of my friends and family, I will start something new, something amazing.

If I will succeed or not…I guess it’s just a matter of time until we’ll find out. All I can hope for, is to not waste my most precious resource: TIME, on anything else, but what really makes me happy. With a lot of work, dedication and a lot enthusiasm, there’s no room for failure.

Keep your fingers cross for me!