Creasta Cocosului – Muntii Gutai | The Roosters comb, Romania

Another cool place in Maramures is the Gutai Mountains where you can visit one of the unique rock formations – Cresta Cocosului – Large nature reserve in the Gutai Mountains, offering hiking trails & a variety of flora & faun.

Left early in the morning with my friend Mihai to explore the Gutai muntains. We started off going the Rooster Combs where we tried escalating it. After wards we walked all the way to the ‘Gutaiul Mare’ summit at 1443m altitude and had our breakfast.

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As the time was still early, we decided that it would be a shame not to climb the ‘Gutai-ul mic’ too. We walked through the annoying juniper spikes, eat some blue barriers on the way and finally made it to the summit.

Such a great hike, if you start early in the morning you can easily climb 3 summits.

Enjoy the ride.

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A glimpse into beautiful Maramures – Mara

I have started exploring the sights in Maramures this year and discovered some really beautiful places. Yet, there are still many more places to explorer. This time I have took my parents to a place called Mara.

It is an amazing place to go and relax at the out swimming pool with a stunning view or chill and enjoy some great food at the Pastravaria Alex restaurant.

You have a really cool waterfall just next to the restaurant and even better the lake with fishes is under the restaurant so you can chose your own fish to eat.

Exploring an abandoned bowling alley from the 1940’s

In one of the evenings after work I wound out with my friends to explore the Meses Mountains and specifically to find what once was the Salamander water stream ( “Izvorul Salamandrelor”.)

We started our journey from the Bradet park where you can easily find the trail as it is marked with the yellow circle. After an approximately 1h30 min walk we arrived to the place but couldn’t find the water stream. The place is destroyed by endless fallen trees all over the place caused by the strong storms, but also due to deforestation.

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After a lot of search we almost gave up when suddenly we found a sign tight to a tree. We went into the pile of cut down trees and we spotted the water stream. We decided to take the sign and make it more visible and cleared out a little bit the path to the water stream.

Continued our journey back home, witnessing a stunning sunset, but then we ended up discovering the Scholar Wooden Cabins from the 1940’s. The place it looks like a post apocalyptic place, with the plants growing through the foundation of the cabin.

This place holds around 5 wooden cabins, a bigger hotel and a bowling alley. There is also a football field and many other interesting structures.

Here is a short video exploring the place. Enjoy.

The best romanian street food

Zilele Zalau-lui – the towns anniversary. I haven’t been to this celebration in my hometown for the past 10 years. I remember when I was a kid, I use to come with my friends and walk up and down the streets tens and hundreds of times and we couldn’t get bored of it.

These days it is organized on a much smaller scale, but still can be a relaxing brake out for the locals. I was surprised to see loads and loads of bbq and traditional food all over the place.

I went and tried out some of the street food and captured it in a short video. Enjoy.

The Botanical Garden of Jibou

The Jibou Botanical Garden, now named after its founder, Vasile Fati, is a botanical garden located in Jibou, Romania.

The works for the organization of the Botanical Garden from Jibou started between the years 1959-1968, when Vasile Fati (1932-2007), a biology teacher, with the students and with the other teachers manages to prove that the parks around Wesselényi Castle, where the high school was functioning is appropriate for a botanical garden.

Between the years 1968-1970 the first greenhouse of 110 square meters was built. Between the years 1978-1982, the two greenhouses were built, the aquarium and the volar. (source: Wikipedia)

It is really close to the Dragons Garden, so if you are planning to visit any of the places try going to both places, it can be done in a one full day.

Gradina Zmeilor – Dragons Garden

Grădina Zmeilor is a protected natural reservation in Salaj, the county where I am curently living. It is situated about 30 km from Zalau and it can be easily reached by a car.

It is well known for it’s interesting rock formation in shapes of towers, mushrooms, nidle and other shapes. Personally I find it very similar to the rock formations I have seen in Vietnam, and in the Avatar movie 🙂

I consider this place to be one of the most beautiful places to visit in Salaj and decided to explore it a little bit with my mom on a sunny Sunday.

Here is a little video about the place, I hope you will enjoy it.

My passion for cycling

I have been cycling ever since I remember myself, but I have started passionately cycling a couple of year back in the UK. Together with my buddy Ciprian planned to go cycling in the highlands, so bought myself a hybrid bike, or more of a road bike and I totally fell in love with it.

Cycled all around UK and now as I have moved back to Romania, started cycling in here too, but kept it local to Zalau. Done a few routs up to the Meses Mountains, also a 70Km route, surrounding the mountains and other short ones to the Virsolt lake and back.

I am planning from next year to get more into mountain biking and offroad cycling so really look into that one.

Till then here are a few of my cycling videos.

 

Guys weekend away – Belis, Romania

Weekend away with the guys. I met these dudes shortly after I have moved back to Romania and we immediately became BFFs 🙂 due the our great passion, driven by the same purpose, our core mission, that one big thing we have in common which is …well let me start from the beginning.

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Sabin, the dude who spent about 10 years in Germany, became the Charles Parson of their country, a symbol of engineering, changed their entire industry until the day he was driven by a bigger purpose.

Koh, the one and only Japanese Jedi engineer, whom The Force sent on a special adventure to serve his biggest mission as of now.

Patric, after his 5 years in the stunning highlands of Scotland, the land of the finest whiskeys, the birth place of the Loch Ness monster and the horrible midges, he was drawn by a new purpose and a new place.

Matteo, the Italian godfather of metallurgy, sole scientist of Tony Stark, the man who made Iron Man happen, after smoking from his wooden pipe, which he received from Gandalf itself, had a vision about a place in the heart of Transylvania, the place of the biggest roman settlement and without any hesitations followed his vision.

…and there’s me, after 5 years serving the Queen of Great Britain I was sent back to my home land, where together with these fellows united our dream of making Zalau and Romania great again… hahaha :)))

We organized a weekend away in the amazing Natural Park of Apuseni, in Belis at over 1000m altitude, to have some fun over a good BBQ.

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We nicely put the meat in a deep ceramic bowl to marinate. Salt, pepper, paprika, soy sauce, wine, wurst and brandy, I think everyone can guess who put which ingredient :)))

Believe it or not, it became the most epic bbq I had in a long time.

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Further on, we have visited the Belis lake, the waterfall and ended our evening with a great camp fire.

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Here is a clip capturing some of the greatest moments of the weekend.

 

Lake Bled, Slovenia – things to do

Lake Bled, Slovenia, a must visit! Probably the most popular place in Slovenia and it has all the reasons for being that. It’s romantic town at the foothills of the Julian Alps, is set along the glacial Lake Bled. On a cliff overlooking the lake is the 11th-century Bled Castle, which houses a museum, chapel and printing press. Atop a small island in the lake’s center is the Pilgrimage Church of the Assumption of Maria, with its steep staircase and bell tower.

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Bled

Dragos and I arrived to Bled around 10 pm and we have decided to camp at Bled Camping which is just next to the lake. It is a great place to camp as it comes fully arranged with hot showers, washing machine, dryers and electricity for extra comfort! I wasn’t that lucky with the hot showers, I guess I was the only unlucky person on the campsite who didn’t get hot water when everyone else was doing sauna in their cubical. It was one hell of a night, cold shower and we where laughing out loud until figured out a way to fit into our 2 person Vango tent. We did fall asleep eventually due to exhaustion after the flight to Ljubljana and great day spent there visiting the city.

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Our empty stomach woke us up early in the morning and started our day of visiting Bled, but not before finding a place where we can have breakfast. We were surprised to hear that things open at 11am in Bled and to be honest it was kind of the situation everywhere in Slovenia. A country after my own heart, they love their morning nap. We got in and out from many B&Bs without having breakfast because they were closed. Eventually we found a place to eat, an all you can eat breakfast and we took advantage of it. 🙂

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Bled Island

“Made friends with our enemies” so we can continue our journey in visiting the place. We took a boat to the Island where we spent 1 hour visiting the church and going around the island. How this works, you get the boat which is a 5-10 min journey and you have 1 hour to spend on the Island and the driver will wait for you. Time is more than enough to roam around and enjoy the view. Got the chance to pull the bells which was pretty cool and after some point annoying cause the bells were ding-dong all day long.

The weather wasn’t great, but wasn’t too bad either. We got a couple of showers while visiting the Island and the castle, and it got a bit worst when we wanted to visit Vintgar Gorge.

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Bled Castle

About a 1h walk from the lake to the castle from where you can look over the lake. The medieval castle of Bled offers you a great view over the surrounding mountains and the lake, but also a pretty nice tour in the castles museum. Just a few steps below the castle there is a restaurant also, a great terrace where you can enjoy an ice-cream while looking at the stunning view. Even on a rainy weather.

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Vintgar Gorge

Our final visit of the day supposed to be 2 km gorge carved by the Radovna River, it became a rescue mission for Fren, a lamb stuck into a fence far away from the flock. The rain became heavier and heavier so we where just about to return to Bled when we noticed a lamb stock into a fence. Dragos, having a soft heart towards animals, he jumped right away into rescue. After a good 10 min he did manage to sort out the trap and released our new friend Fren. You should have seen the joy on the lambs face and the way she ran to her mom…shouting “Mom, mom, guess what just happened!” it went more like ” beeh beeeh beeeh” …but wait I have it on camera, so make sure you check it out.

After we both felt like heroes, although it was more Dragos than me, we went and treated our-self with a good healthy meal…wait, was it a lamb burger? :))

On our way back we stayed a bit longer at the lake and enjoyed the sunset, or at least as much as we could get through the clouds and finished our day in this cool place, Bled.

You can check out all the photos from Bled in the gallery of this blog – link

 

The best places to visit in Ljubljana, Slovenia

Looking out from the airplanes window I could see the mountains breaking through the clouds, I was eager to arrive and learn more about Slovenia.

Ljubljana is a great place to start your journey in Slovenia. It’s the capital and largest city of Slovenia. Ljubljanca River divides the city’s old town from its commercial hub and holds many beautiful bridges. Ljubljana has many museums, vibrant streets with many tourists, great places to eat, drink and a really cool architecture.

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Everything is at a walking distance and really easy to get around. I took a shuttle from the airport to Prešeren Square which is a 30-40 min ride from the airport and it costs 9 Euro’s. The shuttle leaves as soon as has at least 4-5 passengers, otherwise another option is to take the bus which leaves every hour from the airport and costs only 4 Euro’s.

Prešeren Square

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Right at Prešeren Square you have the Franciscan church, a great view over the Triple Bridge and the tower of Ljubljana Castle.  As soon as you cross the the Triple Bridge you arrive to the Robba Fountain, a marble-&-limestone 18th-century fountain with an obelisk, pool & 3 sculpted figures holding jugs.

Walking along the streets you can hear predominantly German and Italian tourists which gives you the impression that you are not even in Slovenia.

Ljubljana Castle 

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Walking from the square to the Ljubljana Castle is a great experience, pedestrian streets and great terraces where you can have some good food and good beer. Talking about food, I found the Slovenian food close to the Romanian and Hungarian dishes. A great bone marrow butter for starter, a nice deer goulash with bread dumplings, Kremšnita cream cake will never disappoint. Among others you can opt for great stews, brilliant burgers, sausage and a mix grill.

Ljubljana Castle offers a great view over the city and the surrounding mountains, great history and legends about the local dragons. The entrance to the tower and the museum cost 7 Euro’s, but it totally worth getting it.

Metelkova Street

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Walking back from the Ljubljana Castle a great visit is the Central market with fresh fruits, vegetables and others. Just next to the central market you can cross Lubljana’s river via the Butchers Bridge where couples put padlocks to prove their love to each-other. Ljubljana Cathedral is also a great place to visit, a Roman Catholic cathedral with a baroque interior, including gilded columns & ceiling frescoes. As soon as you walk near these places you head towards the Dragon Bridge and  just after a 10 minutes walk you arrive to Metelkova Street which holds many weird and cool graffiti and street art. You will find many retro, hippie bars, pubs, places to eat and a cultural divers mix of people.

Just about enough to visit in a day in a relaxing pace.

I’ve found Dragos by the end of the day, we quickly had some great traditional food and went to the bus station to go to our next destination, Bled. You can get a bus from Ljubljana to Bled, it’s only a 50 min ride and it costs 4.10 Euro’s.

Here is a video from my 1st day in Slovenia, exploring some great places in Ljubljana – enjoy the ride with me.