More of Romania

I know, you’re sitting there wondering how in the world I’m going to come up with more about Romania.  Trust me…I could go on for days!

The base of operations for a week was near a town called Sibiu.  That’s where we made our friends Geta and Ducu.  They were supposed to be our landlords but ended up treating us like out of town friends :)  We really believe that they are part of the reason we think so highly of Romania in general!

Dinner with Geta and Ducu (which was made with things from their garden!)
Dinner with Geta and Ducu (which was made with things from their garden!)

On our first day there, Geta made sure we had some food in the fridge and then she and Ducu took us out to the town square and showed us the festival they were having.  They left us to have a good time after they took our picture on The Liars Bridge!  They say if you’re a liar and you cross the bridge it will collapse!!  I guess we’re okay then :)

on Liars Bridge
on Liars Bridge

We also encountered a mime while we were walking around…..Sylar got caught up in his act!


Geta also suggested that we drive up to Sighisoara while we were there.  It’s supposed to be the birthplace of Dracula and being that we had just gone to see the castle we knew it wasn’t something we could pass up.


We also had to have dinner at Casa Dracul!


We ordered dinner for two and it was enough to feed all of us. It was quite tasty and after stuffing ourselves we headed out to the square to walk it off.


We decided to head up the Clock Tower, a local landmark, and take in the view of the city.  It was gorgeous.  We were unable to take pictures while in the tower but got a few of the sights from the top.  I really enjoyed that they had plates with distances to various cities all over the top!

IMG_5311IMG_5325Then we spent the rest of the afternoon walking around and taking in the beautiful buildings and street scenes.  We took a ton of pictures because the old wooden doorways and stone walls were just too good to pass up.

IMG_5335IMG_5444IMG_5445We also got to take a look at the grounds near the Gothic Church. To get there you have to walk up the Schoolboy Stairs which date back to the 1600’s.  There are 175 steps up to the church and the old schoolhouse.  There was a nice young man from the local school there offering explanations while accruing extra credit!



That town really sucked us in.  I don’t think we ended up getting home until 9pm.  It was one of those places we wished we had more time to explore :)


Peles Castle

One of the other castles we chose to visit while in Romania was Peles Castle.  This particular castle is considered to be the most beautiful castle in all of Europe.

I would have to agree.

It is a stunning combination of stone, wood, terraces and statues.  Our first view upon walking up the winding road to the castle grounds literally took my breath away.

Peles Castle
Peles Castle

It looked just like what you imagined while reading fairy tales as a child.  Across the road was a lovely brook and small waterfall where Carl and I took a picture together.  Normally we just focus the lens on the kids….but this turned out alright!

IMG_4965We stopped for a photo of me with the kids using the castle as the backdrop.  Of course we had to wait a bit for the crowd to thin out as there were many people visiting the grounds that day.

IMG_4970There is a nice little place to have lunch with a view of the castle as well as people walking around selling fresh picked fruit from the local area.   This castle is not only stunning but a valued part of Romania’s history.  It was occupied by King Carol I  when Romania gained its independence in 1877.   Part of what makes this castle unique is that it has no prominent theme for the decor.  It has various influences ranging from Turkish to French.  From what I hear, you never know what you’ll encounter when turning a corner.  We chose not to go in considering the limited time we had to visit this castle during our day out.  We were told that it would take a good two hours to really see the inside.  But it was rather late in the afternoon and we had a three hour car ride back to the apartment.  We were all okay with the decision, feeling quite happy that we were able to wander the hillside road beside the castle and take in the gorgeous views.

IMG_4975I’m sure you all understand why, at this point, Romania is becoming hard to beat as our favorite place! And I’m not even close to being done showing you our favorite parts!!


A Birthday in Bucharest

When we first started tossing around ideas for countries we’d like to visit, Romania was one of the last ones added.  And the only reason it was added was because of the possibility of seeing the castle that inspired the story of Dracula.  But the more we researched the country as a holiday destination, the more we realized that there was so much more to see!  The country is full of beautiful landscapes, crazy roads, castles, and gorgeous town squares and buildings.  Oh, and food, glorious food!

We flew into Bucharest after Turkey and headed for our rental in town.  We had chosen to stay in town because Carl was due to fly out at the end of the week and it made sense to stay versus leaving and having to come back.  We ultimately ended up renting a car as well.  The country was too big to make trains an economic option for us traveling with four or five people.  It was actually cheaper to rent the car because it enabled us to not only see more, but stay a bit further out resulting in a lower weekly rental cost.

Anyway, the first week was ok.  The apartment was behind a really big hotel and right near a grocery store.  There was a playground in the back and we had a birthday to celebrate!!  Annalea turned 10 when we were in Romania and we had a nice little celebration at home before Carl left for work.  She had been working on her list for a few weeks and Grace and I managed to find a few things before leaving Turkey so we were all set.  Carl and I went to the store and figured out how to get a cake done and we ended up with this:

IMG_4920I think she was happy!  She got her homemade cake, a few new toys, and all of us together!

IMG_4934While Daddy was home, we also decided to visit some castles which was another of Annalea’s birthday wishes!  But, there’s quite a few photos for that one so I’ll post those next!

The best fresh market ever!

One of the highlights of our trip to Istanbul was our fortunate timing that allowed us to experience the weekly bazaar!  I was a little unclear to begin with when our landlady told us there would be a bazaar.  To me that means old trinkets and clothes and other miscellaneous items….however, to them, it meant a fresh market.  A HUGE fresh market. (with a smattering of clothes and trinkets here and there). And it was right outside our apartment!!

The men started setting up quite early the next morning.  It was cloudy and rainy so they were busy setting up tarps to cover their tables and offer protection to the shoppers.  I don’t know if they did this every week (the tarps) but it was cool to see them line the streets with them.

IMG_4836After peeking out the window for part of the morning, we finally decided to head up and check it out.  It was awesome.  We had to force ourselves to stop buying fruit even though we made a pit stop at home to drop off the first few bags!  It was  a feast for the eyes and eventually the taste buds.  The market went on and on and it was overflowing with fruits, vegetables, breads and cheeses.  And the best part was that all of the produce and other items were local and fresh.



We spent most of the day wandering and eating.  We ate almost 2kg of strawberries that first day. (that’s almost 4.5 lbs!)  Markets like this make me want to live there.  I could just imagine myself doing weekly shopping at the bazaar and getting fresh bread daily…..however, I’m not moving to Turkey, so I guess I’ll just have to make my own bread and plant a garden!




Istanbul Not Constantinople

Now you try to NOT sing that song all day!

Things really started to take a turn for the better when we got to Istanbul.  The weather was the best part (not really but it’s a good place to start).  It was sweater weather!  Of course, not true summer weather, just a week long fluke, but for us it was a Godsend!  It was so nice to walk around in pants because the weather was cool.

We rented a little two bedroom condo that was below street level keeping it extra cool.  Come to find out, picking blindly was the best thing we ever did.  We ended up in the perfect location for a week in Istanbul.  It was so perfect that we didn’t even venture out of our neighborhood!  It was located in a very non touristy part of the city where there were mom and pop markets on the corner and bread stores everywhere.  It was a short walk to shopping and coffee shops and yummy restaurants….it was heavenly.  Here is a picture of our first meal out.  I can’t even tell you what we had….kebabs I think and it was served with bread and veggies and dips…I miss it already!

IMG_4827Then, of course, we had to stop and try some baklava. Who knew there were so many varieties?!

IMG_4831In the shop we stopped at, they also made these sweet sticky donut things called tulumba tatlisi.  It means fried pastry with syrup (I think).  Sy was very interested in watching how they were made so of course we had to try some.  The kids liked them but I thought the texture was weird…kinda crunchy and sticky sweet but smushy in the middle.


It wouldn’t have been a trip to Turkey without a morning at the turkish baths!  I convinced Grace to go with me and she ultimately agreed that it was a great experience.  I won’t go in to details and obviously won’t be sharing any photos.  But trust me when I say that if you are given the chance to visit one, you should go.  And if you’re lucky and are ever able to have a coffee with Grace and I then feel free to ask about our experience! It was a hoot!


After our bath we stopped at Yuksel Cafe and Pastane, our favorite local coffee and pastry shop for a snack.  We tried something new called Borek.  It’s a flaky pastry filled with layers and layers of phyllo I think…it tasted almost like a pasta with cheese and butter.  And of course our coffee….


Here’s a photo of Grace and Daddy enjoying a meal :)IMG_4880And last but not least, we asked our servers and cooks at our favorite local place for a photo and they ALL stopped and ran over so we could snap one!  It was awesome!!


We stayed in a vacation rental in Bahçelievler.  If you’re going to Istanbul and are interested, we can put you in touch with the lady we rented from…she was a great hostess!

Stay tuned for the next post….the market day made me want to move there!



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