Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Visitors in Romania!

We had some visitors come to Romania and it was Michael's parents and his brother, Isaiah! Even though our apartment was only a two bedroom, I really do love having my house full of family and friends.  We were excited to get them here so we could show off our favorite parts of Bucharest and explore some more of beautiful Romania.

Love this picture because it shows a huge part of our day to day life- the metro train! Romania wins the cleanest subway cars award after all our traveling.  And the ads were always our kids favorites.

We took them and our friends, the Whalens, to the Village Museum which I think is so enchanting!  

The Village Museum is through Herastrau Park so we were able to see the beautiful Peacocks that are the inspiration for the park's name.

Laila loved this stop on the metro because of this zebra bench.  Can you tell she's pretty excited to share it with her uncle and grandma & grandpa?

We visited another one of our favorite parks.  It's just as fun for adults as it is for kids. ;)  This park also had free wifi.  Since my phone didn't work in Romania unless I was connected to wifi this park was automatically one of my favorites.  It was off of a metro stop too so it wasn't too hard for me to get there.  Plus look at all the beautiful trees that created some great shade!  I love seeing my kids play with family!

Uncle Isaiah was always willing to play!

We took the Shields to Cara Cu Bere because it's a must see and eat when in Bucharest.  They have a great lunch special that is a four course meal.  All options are good, traditional Romanian dishes.  My favorite is the bread and dip appetizers!

Love Old Town Buch!

Another afternoon took us to the recently reopened palace of the former dictator.  It was quite the bipolar experience.  On one hand the palace is beautiful and ornate and most of the furniture was custom made in Romania which made it feel so rich and authentic.  On the other hand, as you were walking through the grandeur, you couldn't help remember the extreme poverty the rest of the country was in while he lived the good life.

The formal living room.

This is the garden off of the master heading to the bathroom.

Indoor swimming pool is now a historical timeline and photograph display.

The gardens in the backyard.

King Harrison

The beautiful architecture at the main front entrance.

Of course, no outing is complete without some ice cream and a rest in the park.

For the weekend, we took our family outside of Bucharest into the incredible Romanian Countryside.  We went to another castle associated with the man who is the inspiration for the legend of Dracula- Vlad the Impaler.  You can see it at the very top of the mountain in the middle of the picture below.

I love these two explorers!

It was a hike! But so incredible to be in such an ancient structure.

After Vlad's castle, we made it to the world famous road, Transfagarasan.  It's only open a few months of the year because of it's steepness and it's world record windiness.  I will say it was an awesome day and such a cool place but definitely not the best place to go if you get car sick easily! Yikes!  

The next day, we went out and saw this picturesque castle...

This was a particularly fun castle to go to because it was just open to visitors.  There were official tours you could pay extra for but for the most part, you are free to roam as you please.  And for the most part, there are very few parts of the castle that are closed.  That made it really fun because it felt more like we were in medieval times rather than at a museum.

Laila liked this door and wanted a picture by her sized door.

The king and his princess!

Heading back to our apartment that we rented from AirBnb, we had this view for HOURS!  I don't remember ever finding a cause for the congestion. But wow! It was pretty frustrating to watch our afternoon plans disappear minute by minute!

Finally we were able to stop at a place we randomly stopped at with Mel Mel.  It was a truck stop type place but the restaurant was REALLY good!  And they had the best lemonade of all the places we ate in Romania!  (It also probably tasted a little better because it was in this cute jar. ;))

It was our anniversary so that night, Michael and I went for a run to downtown Sibiu.  I had been dying to get to Sibiu since we landed in Romania.  It's such a BEAUTIFUL, picturesque city.  We ran to the "Bridge of Lies" it has a fun legends of being able to know when someone is lying.  I just loved the surrounding buildings and the pretty iron with the flowers.  So lovely! 

The next morning we walked to the small LDS building for church.  We enjoyed all the beautiful mosaic tile roofs as we strolled.  So much detail and color! 

The branch in Sibiu was so small but so sweet!  We got to see one of the sister missionaries that had been in Bucharest and taken me to see Sora Gorzo.  That was really fun to see her again.  The branch also had a linger longer after church meetings for lunch.  It was so fun to be together and learn more about everyone and the area.  The food was also delicious! I wish we could have stayed in Sibiu a lot longer!  It is one of my favorite spots in Romania.

We had to get on the road since the Shields flight was out of Bucharest really, really early the next morning.  There was lots of traffic from people going back to the city but it was nice to get back to our familiar view from our apartment.

We missed views like this ^ as soon as they left!  
It was so fun to be together in such an incredible country.
Thanks for coming to visit, Shields!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

So Lovely Slovenia

We were really tempted to skip Slovenia and stay in Croatia the rest of our time there.  While we would have LOVED more time in Croatia, I'm so glad we didn't miss Slovenia! It is definitely another gem on this incredible planet!

Our first stop is the incredible Predjama Castle!  Probably my favorite of the castles that we saw.  It's built into the mountain which made it virtually impenetrable by it's enemies and includes a complex set of caves and tunnels which made it possible for the owners to get supplies from villages even if the front of the castle was under attack.  In fact, the legend is the only reason an attacking army was able to win a victory was because a servant of the king was paid to light a candle in the bathroom window (far left part of the castle) while the king was in there so they could bomb him there.  Rough way to be betrayed! Yikes!  
I think the castle is an incredibly powerful example especially since at this point of history that's what life was- armies concurring land and kingdoms.  I want my home to metaphorically be that strong.  It also gets the title of one of my favorites for this incredibly beautiful view!

Inside the inner castle caves looking out and looking up into other tunnels. 

Harrison and I coming out of the "Old castle" which everything was built around.

The next day we decided that we would go out to Lake Bled.  We had heard lots of incredible things about it so we thought we'd just drive out there for the morning and come back into the capital city, Ljubljana and explore the rest of the day.  When you see the pictures of Lake Bled, you will see why we didn't end up leaving until 5 PM!

I just cannot see pictures and places like this and doubt there is a God!  It was just breathtaking!

We started out the day by walking down to the lake and taking one of these boats to the little island of the lake- meanwhile loving all the colors, hills, castle and greenery surrounding us!

You get dropped off at the dock and have about 40 mins to hang out on the tiny island, tour the church, eat some gelato (of course!) and walk around.

Definitely could have stayed there all day...

These two! Love!


We stopped for lunch at a charming little spot on the lake.  They gave me a rose- very nice touch! ;)

We then walked to our next adventure which we had seen on the lake when we were in the boat...

... Totally worth it!!!

Like Croatia, we could have stayed in Lake Bled much longer but we did end up leaving so we could see some of the picturesque city, Ljubljana and enjoy some nice dinner! 

This girl can take care of a bowl of noodles!

It's been so fun to relive these memories as I've finally finished this post.  Now I'm going to see how we can make it back to Slovenia one day!