Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Romania- Bucharest Life

We are getting pretty close to our three month mark of our six month adventure here in Romania! It's crazy how time flies but it's also incredible how many wonderful adventures we have had in that time! As well as our travels around Europe, we have also had a wonderful time exploring Bucharest.

One of our first weekends here, we went to Old Town and saw the opera house.

As well as the other beautiful, old buildings.

We also met up with some colleagues and their families.  It was a fun treat to get to know them.

We hang out around our apartment on some days.  We have a washer but no dryer as seen through the window.  Our dryer is probably my most missed appliance.

Twirling is a regular occurrence at our house.

We got to enjoy Lilac season and it was wonderful!

For "preschool" Laila and I learn about the flags of the country we are going to visit and a few of the words they say in their language.  She is so smart! She can recognize and list all of them! I cannot wait to watch the olympics this summer so she can see all the flags!

"Look, Mom! I'm the Statue of Liberty" Haha!

Love when the bum is in the air sleeping position!

We love exploring the MANY different playgrounds that Bucharest has to offer. This one is Tineretului.

We went with the sister missionaries one morning to visit sweet, Sora Gorzo.  She is a widow who treats the missionaries serving in Romania as her children- including my sister, Annie and her husband, Victor.  We really enjoyed our visit.  Laila picked out some flowers for her and sang her some songs.  Harrison tossed a ball with her.  It was a special visit for us.

That's Laila at the top of "the really big slide!"  Herastrau park is just two metro stops away from us so we like to go there often.

These two are really starting to have one of the sweetest relationships I could ever imagine.

One of our weekends here, we explored Mogosoaia Palace here in Bucharest.  It's one palace that didn't get torn during communism reign.  The brick work was so beautiful.  The gardens and adjoining park made it breathtaking. 

These explorers LOVE hedge "mazes."

When Melanie was in town, we also checked off a lot from our Bucharest to do list- including the Village Museum.  It's a beautiful, outdoor museum that has a variety of houses and buildings you would see in Romania countryside and throughout history.  It was like a fairytale.

We also took Mel to Old Town and walked some of the amazing cobble stone streets and beautiful buildings.

^ Such a fun bookstore in a really cool building 

^We met Michael for lunch at the iconic Cara Cu Bere for lunch one day.  We had an authentic Romanian meal which was fun, but the building was just incredible!

We've had the opportunity to have a few missionaries over for dinner while we've been here.  It's been a fun tradition to take our picture with them and send it to their families.  They are working so hard to serve the Romanian people, it's been great to have them in our home- especially on nights where Michael is having to work late.  It's nice to have some English conversations! ;)

Another favorite pastime of ours is eating ice cream!

We randomly decided to take Melanie to see the Arcul de Triumf one afternoon and I'm so glad we did!  On our way out of the park, there was an awesome children's festival that was free (as far as I could tell...) 
Laila loved the jumpy jumpy.

Harrison loved driving the race car on the carousel.

She was absolutely delighted to ride on a pony!

Seriously, look how cool!  It was also awesome to try and watch these kids stay standing in these orbs! Haha!

The Arch was pretty too.... ;)

Another AMAZING benefit to having Mel Mel here with us, was that she let me and Michael actually go on a date! A date! Just the two of us! Let's just say it was LONG overdue and very much appreciated.

One Sunday, on our way to church, we came out of the metro at one of the busiest intersections in the city to find it completely empty. So of course we took a selfie in the middle of it.  We found out there was a race that was starting at the Parliament Palace so that's why everything was closed off to traffic. 

The starting line (and the finish line) and Parliament Palace.

Overall, it's been a great opportunity for us to be in Bucharest.  We've enjoyed learning about the city, the culture, and the people.  But, most of all, our little family is enjoying this time together.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Romanian Countryside with Mel Mel

We couldn't have Melanie coming all the way to Romania and not go out and see the Romanian Countryside and Transylvania!  So the weekend before she flew out, we headed out for a ROAD TRIP!  I will tell you right now, it was an INCREDIBLE trip!  Romania is beautiful.  It is like driving into a fairytale!  Once the car rental place FINALLY opened, we got on the road.  Sunflowers aren't in season yet, but the Poppy's were!

 We made our first stop in Sinaia and hiked up to Peles Castle! So beautiful!  It was everything I imagine a princess castle to be.  We took a tour of the inside as well.  It's pretty incredible how elaborate they can build things.  This one had an entry where the whole glass ceiling could open up to let in fresh air.

Family hugs!

I always feel a little bad when naps are in the car and not a comfy bed... but he also looks so cute!

Next stop was Bran Castle- more commonly known as Dracula's Castle!  Despite it's spooky history and gruesome inspiration, it was actually a very charming town and castle.  (Except for the spooky, secret passageway to the top floor...)


We had beautiful weather our whole trip which made everything seem even more magical!

"Hey guys! Look! It's a door my size!"  Love this little adventurer of ours!

" Look! Shields! Like my name Adelaide Megan Shields!"

Seems more like Snow White than vampires to me!

What do you think? Does it look like Halloween to you?

Dinner in Brasov

 That night we stayed in an AirBnb in Brasov.  It was a nice apartment.  Then we went to church the next morning.  Here's my little gangsta church goer.  He wishes he were driving.

That afternoon, we did a hike up to Seven Ladder Canyon and then climbed up the ladders through the waterfalls and canyon.  A little intense with kids, but super cool!

We were then back on the road for Timisoara.  Michael had meetings there Monday so we all went.  Driving through Romania is interesting because there are not very many freeways.  So you'd be in these lush rolling hills with sheep and their shepard.  Then you'd drive into these little towns.  A lot of them had these HUGE stork nests on light poles and chimneys.

While Michael was at work, Melanie, the kids and I explored a bit of Timisoara.
Love the mosaic roof!

Michael met up with us for lunch and we had some gelato together.  Cheers to gelato and an exciting trip!

Michael also had a meeting at another small town on the way back to Bucharest.  So he kind of had to just drop us off by ourselves in the middle of this town and hurry off to his meeting.  Here's proof of our bravery... and a pretty church.  

Luckily we found a cute little playground and let the kids run around since we still had a long drive ahead of us...

On the way back to Bucharest, we decided that since we were out west so far, we'd be silly to not stop and see what World Geography decided was the Most Unique Waterfall in the world- Cascada Bigar.
Walking from the parking area.

These are right off the road and a lot of the pictures that we had seen had the colors photo shopped a bit and different angles from above which made me think they would be taller than they were.  However, it was still pretty fascinating to see the moss that grew on these overhanging rocks to make it look like a waterfall on a tree.  They also have bridges to see the falls from a few different angles. 

ONCE AGAIN, we got back on the road. We took the route home that led us to the Danube River that runs along the Romanian and Serbian borders.  We stopped for dinner at a restaurant right along the banks.  Pretty spectacular!

The view from our table.

Sadly,  we didn't get back to Bucharest until 2 AM in a thunderstorm.  Then Michael and Melanie turned around at 5 AM to take Mel to the airport. :( Sad day.  We loved having Mel Mel with us.  Laila keeps talking about how much she misses her and how she's glad we have pictures of her so we can remember her.  Sweet little, eulogy. Haha!  But truly, Melanie came right at a time that I was feeling pretty homesick.  She helped me feel not so far away from family and the adventures we went on, helped me remember all the things I want to do and places I want to go before our time here is done!  So... anyone else want to come visit??