Skies of glass
Of dewdrop stains
A satin sash and
Your ghost is hollow
It longs to haunt me
Make it last
Make it whisper
Call my name
The blessed saved
I revel there
I revel yonder
Written June 28, 2013
as I reached a crossroads in my life
I miss traveling. I miss the rush of the airport, the excitement of getting my passport stamped, of exploring new places and reacquainting myself with old haunts.
Most of all, I miss the beautiful, wonderful people in those countries. I miss them a lot.
When I came across this writerly musing of mine, I decided to share it. Because even though I wrote it while standing on the cusp of autumn, and even though it’s about one specific country I longed to see again (Croatia), it was inspired by my heart to travel during a time, a season, when I simply couldn’t. Just like now.
Krka Falls – Krka National Park, Croatia
Enjoying some onion soup – Paris, France
King’s Cross – London, UK
Dining on Strada Republicii – Brasov, Romania
On the Salt Flats – Uyuni, Bolivia
I taste spring.
Weird, isn’t it? Being that fall is right around the corner? Maybe it’s the humidity, kissing my skin as a cool breeze rustles my hair. Maybe it’s this milky-looking sky with its soft gray clouds that whisper promises of rain to come.
Or maybe it’s just me. Maybe I just want it to be spring so badly that my imagination has overloaded my senses and tricked me into believing I’m in a different season. Because that’s what I want more than anything: for it to be May, for my bag to be packed, and for my heart to be pounding to the roar of a jet engine.
Traveling at sunset
Beach sunset – Tambo de Mora, Peru
Sunset over Limon, Costa Rica
Sunset over the Adriatic
My tongue is thick with the sweet tang of travel. I long for the anticipation of departure…and arrival. I crave the rush I’ll get when I behold the Adriatic Sea with my own eyes, rather than through a computer screen. I ache to experience – to feel – the buzz of Diocletian’s Palace while I dance to the melody of Slavic voices around me.
I taste spring. I’m hungry for it, and it’s not coming fast enough.
A flower blooms
To the moon
Like a bird
Who sings her song
For too long Too long for
She’s out of breath A kiss held on
‘Til her love’s spent She is me And me is I And my eye sees me
Left behind A heart not found
In fiction’s fact Encased in glass
-Written July 3, 2012
as my life began to transition
from one season to the next
Traveling at sunset
The sun must go down and the night prevail (for a time) before a new day dawns.
If you’re hungry, you might want to turn back. Seriously, the food pics below might just make your mouth water.
Craiova is a little city west of Bucharest. They have botanical gardens, a water park, and a huge green park designed by French architect Edouard Redont. There’s a jogging trail, a lake, a suspended bridge, a hippodrome, and a lot of great scenery for picture-taking. If you’re into shopping, Craiova has a modern mall, an open-air market, and plazas with shopping and restaurants. We even found an eclair shop!
Leaving the Craiova rail station
Nicolae Romanescu Park
Water Park Craiova
We went to Craiova to visit friends and to serve with a ministry (I delivered toys and food to families in need, and we ended up visiting some Roma churches). It was a great experience, but there are some things you’ll need to know before you plan a trip there.
On our way to a Roma church
Hanging out with friends
Driving from train station
Delivering toys to a family
First, you’ll need to plan accordingly. We traveled to Craiova from Brasov (Transylvania) and realized there was no direct route by train. We had to pass through Bucharest, which was fine by us. They have Left Luggage at Gara de Nord, and the rail station is nearby to my Unchiul’s house. We were able to stop in and have an early dinner with him at Beijing Garden (BEST Chinese food I’ve ever had in my life) before our late afternoon train departed.
My Unchiul with a bottle of rose
Beijing Garden – best Chinese food EVER
Train to Craiova
Overall, it was a very long day of traveling: 3 hours from Brasov to Bucharest, our 2-hour layover in Bucharest, then 4 more hours to Craiova.
TIP:Be sure to book a First Class ticket on the train, especially during the summer. The price doesn’t go up a whole lot, and the extra lei is worth it. The train to Craoiva is slow, can get very packed with commuters, and it can be very hot and stuffy. You’ll want that extra space to breathe, as well as for your belongings. And if you’re lucky, the air conditioning will work in the First Class cabin, but no guarantees. We’ve ridden First Class when the A/C works well, and other times where it works poorly – but it’s always worth a shot.
A lot happened in Craiova, and there will be some reviews coming shortly that — well, aren’t my usual, glowing reviews (sneak preview of those below). Even so, our experience was awesome and we love our friends there, so we will definitely go back.
One of the highlights of this trip was a restaurant called Craft. The food was phenomenal, the drinks were very unique, and the atmosphere was magnifique.
Slow time (early lunch, mid-week)
Most everyone was eating on the patio
I ordered the pork steak with mashed potatoes and a side of butter pickles. This dish was fantastic! The cream sauce was buttery and offset the pork perfectly.
Chris ordered the seafood pasta, which I was a little bit leery of because Craiova is nowhere near the sea. But I have to say, it tasted very fresh. His portion size was also substantial (not uncommon in Romania!), and his Romanian wine complemented the dish very well.
I was impressed by their presentation, the trendy feel of the menu, and the modern atmosphere. The waitstaff was excellent, too. We are accustomed to waiting a long time for our food when we’re in Romania (it’s not uncommon for staff to forget about us or mix up our order). HOWEVER, the waitstaff at Craft was incredible and the service was fast. We were in and out in about one hour.
Their presentation was superb
Great menu with great prices
Decent drink prices (the exchange rate is about 4 lei to 1 USD)
“Damm” Beer 🙂
number of Backpacks is based on a scale of 1 to 5
Food: 5 Backpacks – absolutely incredible; couldn’t have asked for better quality or flavor
Atmosphere: 4 Backpacks – would’ve been a 5, but I love bustling spaces for meals out (reader, keep in mind: we were there at an odd hour in the middle of the week)
Service: 5 Backpacks – fantastic service; very attentive waitstaff
Price: 4 Backpacks – the drinks were about average, but the food was lower than I was expecting (especially for what we got)
Overall Experience: 5 Backpacks – this was my overall experience, and I cannot wait to go back!
Here’s a sneak preview of some upcoming reviews I’ll be posting….
Stay tuned for what should be some interesting reviews…
Bolivia’s tough. It’s a landlocked country, and most of it sits at about 4000 meters above sea level (that’s 12,000 feet, or 2.5 miles). Do you know how hard it is to breathe at that altitude? I didn’t!
Mountains around La Paz
La Paz, Bolivia
Allow me to paint a picture.
Uyuni is where I resided for a month while in Bolivia. It’s in the Potosi department in the south, and it sits on the cusp of Salar de Uyuni (the largest salt flats in the world).
This is a desert region, barren — like being on the moon or in a dusty old ghost town (except this place is populated.
Not a single cloud somedays
The temperature in Uyuni is hard to describe. The sun will scorch your skin during the day, but because the altitude is so high, the weather is not particularly hot. Rather, the sun can still feel warm on you, but the air is still cold. I actually ended up getting THE WORST sun blisters all over my mouth when I was there. Why? Because I didn’t put on sunblock at 10:00 in the morning. YES. I said ten in the morning.
As far as the temperature, it vacillated by about 60 degrees between night and day. Between that and the lack of rain, the altitude, the dusty desert air, several of us got sick.
The housing situation wasn’t the easiest, either, with seven of us sharing the toilet with the house owner and her husband, plus the two families living in the back of the property. The toilet, of course, didn’t flush (we had to pour water to flush it manually). That’s pretty common throughout Latin America. Also, no toilet seats (fair warning!).
To take showers, it was either walk a mile to the public restrooms/showers or take a bucket shower at home (time-consuming and not easy to accomplish while sharing a single outhouse with so many people).
Despite these circumstances, I actually LOVED Uyuni. Bolivia was my favorite country of the three I visited in South America (Peru and Ecuador being the other two), and a ton of backpackers and tourists go through there to see the salt flats.
Here are some other reasons I loved Bolivia:
The people! I love the people! The government isn’t a big fans of Americans (or any non-communist nation, really), but the people are warm and welcoming.
The weather was always sunny while I was there, every single day (I went in March, which is their autumn).
Blue skies as far as the eye can see
Not a single cloud somedays
You can find some gems for eating, and there are a lot of great tours on the salt flats — be sure to stop by Hotel Tonito and Minuteman Pizza when you’re in Uyuni!
The landscape is incredible, especially out on the salt flat. It really is like being on the moon or on some other world.
When the altitude got to be too much, they have te that helps. And it’s good with honey, yum.
One word: salchipapas. These are fries with either bits of hotdog or another meat, usually with a fried egg. It’s street food and makes a great snack.
The country has two capitals (sort of): La Paz and Sucre. One is the executive and legislative seats of their government, the other is the constitutional capital. But still. Kinda cool, huh? And I can tell you firsthand, La Paz is a really neat place with MASSIVE mountains around the city.
All right, so even though I felt like this some of the time while I was in Bolivia…
And there might’ve been some of this…
A lot of stray dogs
Someone is waiting on someone else to clean this up (always!)
Lots of traffic in La Paz
This is all too common
There was also a lot of this…
And in the end, I felt like this, and I definitely want to go back…