To the Windmill!

20141019_1407111A windy day is a perfect day to visit a windmill and actually see it work. So, I hopped on my bicycle and started the trip towards a beautiful mill, from the beginning of 1900. You might think: ‘1900?! Oh, it’s probably a museum.’ Guess again! It’s still working, and it does a fantastic job.

Even before getting close to the fascinating building, I could see the enormous blades turning. What a fantastic mechanism!

I couldn’t believe my ears when the miller told me they used the windmill even during storms with wind speeds of 89–102 km/h. And I have to say, I was very impressed by the power such a construction can develop. Being inside, I could feel the entire mill moving. As soon as the wind starts, it all comes alive! This explains why it is used for such a large spectrum of activities. Historically speaking, the windmills kept Netherlands going, being used in pumping the excess water from the land into the sea, in cutting the wood needed for building ships, and, of course, as a source of power. The millers even use the windmill to pull the bags of grains, at the desired floor.

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The bags of grains are ready!

I was touched to see all the work and dedication invested into maintaining everything. Basically, being a miller is not a job or a hobby, but a way of life. You have to love what you do, in order to feel the mechanism and understand it perfectly.

Not an easy job I would say, but people really love their mills, and take very good care of them. Hard work, as the reparations have to be done in the same way and with the same type of materials used by the original constructors. This was learned the hard way, when the mill was repaired, at one point, by a contractor who used new, fancy construction materials. From the very first use of the windmill, it was easy to see that the newly set bricks couldn’t support the movement of the entire structure. The whole reparation had to be restarted, and done properly, the ‘old fashioned’ way.

Very imposing and fascinating buildings, and all the respect for the millers who invest so much time and energy into keeping them going!

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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.

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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! 🙂 ). 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.