Monday, 25 August 2014

Project DeltaKayaking

First of all, here’s our survival kit list for the Delta. Well, we tried to think of everything and we ended up taking too much food and too many clothes with us, yet forgot the tissues and the toilet paper at home.
EQUIPMENT
Personal flotation device
Whistle
Head flashlight
Paddle float
Spraydeck
Kayak
Paddle
Weather forecast
GPS (phone)
Additional phone
Tent
Self-inflatable mattress
Fleece blanket
Spare batteries
Camping stove
Dry bag

ACCESSORIES
Sponge, cloth
Sunglasses with a strap [we actually managed to find a strap that fits any pair of regular sunglasses]
Sunscreen
Water and food
Topographic map
Insect repellent
First aid kit
Cooking utensils + knife
Toilet paper
Tissues
Organic soap
Mobile shower

APPAREL
Water shoes or water sandals
Cap and buff
Trousers and shorts
Polyester T-shirts
Long-sleeve synthetic shirt
Waterproof jacket
A set of dry clothes in the dry bag
Synthetic underwear
Bathing suit
Wetsuit [not really necessary, as the water was very warm]
Flip-flops
Additional footwear
Towels

Day 1
Marcel and I left Braşov really late; consequently, we stopped in Oneşti, planning to continue to Brăila the following morning.
Tip: Don’t forget to signal the presence of a longer kayak on your car by means of a reflective fabric.

Day 2
Stocked with the last supplies, we started our drive to Brăila via Focşani. The Tulcea crossing took around 10 minutes and cost 22.50 lei (2 passengers, 1 car).
Tip: Follow the road signs to Tulcea in order to get to the ferry.

On the other side of the Danube, the backdrop had changed: we had left the dry yellow behind, joining the fresh green! The light was the same inviting one that I remembered from August 2011 – an evening one, though. Still, all the surroundings of Măcin Mountains (the lowest in Romania) seemed to smile at us, continuously and for no apparent reason. It felt good to be back.
In no time, we were in Isaccea, then in Şomova, and then we took a left to Parcheş and stopped for information near a 5* complex. We had noticed another kayak, so, in the end, we went down to the water and pitched our tent up. The sunset, the water, the setting – they were all better than I had hoped, but I was a bit disappointed by the large amount of waste found on the site [which we cleaned right before setting our tent up; this is clearly another story].   
Marcel was very agitated, as he knew that the golden hour of the mosquitoes was about to start, so he urged me to start paddling. I did. I had paddled so much in Marcel’s kayak, that I had forgotten how it felt to ride BLU. Soon during our ride, we discovered mangroves and many birds roaming fearlessly around us. The sights were fantastic and so was their energy. Unfortunately, the light got dimmer and dimmer, so we had to return to our tent. Then came the mosquito attack (a fierce one). Then we had dinner. Then we went to bed.
Sunset on Lake Telnicea

Day 3
We were woken up by the fishermen, really early. As the sun was starting to heat the tent, we figured it was high time to have breakfast and then paddle and explore the canals and adjacent lakes. It felt like a detective job at times – guessing the name of a bird seen from afar or venturing into lily-swarmed lakes were high on that day’s list. We didn’t even feel the intimidating heat thanks to the lush vegetation protecting us all the way through the canals.
That is, until we returned to the tent. I realised that it could have been the worst idea to stay in that heat while hoping for the cooler hours to arrive. We packed everything and left, also searching for a new camping spot. Parcheş was our first try; Şomova followed. Somewhere between Şomova and its neighbouring village, Marcel couldn’t fight the temptation and had to go for a dip. Unfortunately, although clean, the grounds were very wet… that is, really unfit for camping.
We ended up hiding away from the sizzling 37ºC in Mineri, near Tulcea, at Pensiunea Lebăda and its nice location. After that, defeated, I fell asleep on the way to Saon Monastery [Marcel knew that we could somehow camp on the monastery grounds]. He woke me up on a happy tone: ‘Come with me, I’ve just found the most incredible and peaceful spot for us to camp – we have to ask Mother Superior’s permission though, to get the car there, as well’. One sturdy woman – this Mother Superior. She immediately said yes, without expecting anything in return, and then she rode away in a motor boat that she was driving. To a person that’s not at all into priests, nuns, and the institution of the Church as a whole, Mother Superior’s attitude came as a surprise.
After pitch up, we started our paddling/discovery session on Lake Telnicea, planning to reach Lake Rotundu. An adrenaline rush soon followed, as we were caught by the storm right in the middle of the lake. I could say that I made it to the pier by the skin and the teeth. I barely managed to try out my new mobile shower – which is great and I absolutely recommend it –, because the heavy rain made it impossible for Marcel and I to have dinner anywhere else but inside our tent.      

Day 4
We woke up to a very cool morning: it seemed like we had bidden summer ‘farewell’ [even though we didn’t actually acknowledge its presence during 2014] and welcomed autumn. After a short breakfast, we both knew that we weren’t keen on facing that brisk air or that cold water. Or cleaning the kayaks afterwards. So, we took advantage of the rain that had already washed them and bound them to the car’s rooftop.
Then, we thought of thanking the nuns at the monastery for letting us camp overnight, so we bought some Merlot made by them, together with the most delicious grapes (Muscat Ottonel) I’ve had lately. Off we went: Tulcea – Hârşova [the bridge toll is still 11 lei] – Slobozia. Or the road taken in September 2013. I admit that I was very happy to ride it again, but this time around, the orangish light of the clear sky sunset had been replaced by menacing clouds and nasty gusts. Sweetened by the watermelon and cantaloupe that we purchased en route.
Tip: During summer, this road is a better and less congested option for Constanţa-Bucharest motorway. And a very scenic one, too.

Last year, we had continued to Urziceni. This year, we had a change of heart and of plan and headed to Buzău instead. We then passed Cislău, Pătârlagele, Colţi to the right, and finally Nehoiu and Siriu Dam or the location to many fond yet excruciating memories of our whitewater kayak course. As we got closer to home and the clouds started to dissipate, I came to wonder… Would I have liked things to have remained the same as in June 2013? No! There were so many happy and a few sad moments that I had gone through since then and they all shaped my way of thinking and my personality, made me stronger, and enriched my life in so many ways! How could you say ‘no’ to change, when change is the best thing that could happen to you?  

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Revanşa


Pentru cei ce nu mă cunosc, treaba stă cam aşa: eu sunt Petra, pe iubitul meu îl cheamă Marcel şi am un caiac pe care-l cheamă BLU. Sunt pasionată de multe lucruri – în fapt, eu mă văd ca pasiune pură din creştetul capului şi până la vârfurile degetelor de la picioare –, însă cred că printre activităţile favorite se numără tot ce înseamnă dus la extrem. Călătorii în locuri mai puţin umblate şi/sau considerate drept riscante, sporturi cât mai năstruşnice şi mai periculoase şi, nu în ultimul rând, activităţi şi relaţionări cu oamenii duse la extrem. Îmi place să îmi forţez limitele, să mi le depăşesc, apoi să o iau de la capăt.
Da, am momente şi situaţii de care mi-este frică, însă ce folos să trăim dacă nu să ne înfruntăm fricile? Şi să riscăm încontinuu, ce-i drept, într-o manieră inteligentă, pentru că doar în dansul acesta nebun cu provocările putem culege mai mult decât am investit. Indiferent de plan.

-          Seara bună, spre Lacul Rotundu se poate ieşi?
-          Bună seara, îi răspunseră pescarii lui Marcel, cu o undă de îngrijorare în glas. Ne-au explicat cam pe unde ar fi canalul comunicant, însă cred că ne-am cam lăsat duşi de val şi de norii negri ce stăruiau la orizont.
-          Marcel, putem merge mâine de dimineaţă. Hai să stăm aproape de mal – vine furtuna.
Ştiam şi din previziunile meteo [ştiu că mai sunt şi acelea greşite] că asta urma: o furtună violentă.
Marcel însă a continuat să vâslească. L-am urmat. Şi, ajunşi la extremitatea vestică a lacului, ne-am dat seama că nu suntem în locul cel bun. Cu toate acestea, soarele care începuse a apune ne-a făcut martorii unui spectacol impresionant: poate unul dintre cele mai frumoase asfinţituri ale vieţii mele de până acum, portocaliul cald fiind amplificat de albastrul închis spre gri al cerului furtunos, luminat uneori de licărul fulgerelor.
-          Mica, ne ocoleşte, fii pe pace.
Dar mie inima-mi spunea altceva. Cu toate acestea, am stat să facem fotografii, eu observând cu o sclipire suspectă în ochi păsările ce treceau în zbor, pe deasupra capului meu.
La un moment dat, am văzut stuful cum se apleacă în spatele lui Marcel, am privit instinctiv în spatele meu şi am văzut valurile care se umflau. [Mie mi-e frică de vânt, cam de când aveam 10 ani şi... pe apă ştiu că acest element poate fi mult mai periculos decât pe uscat.] Apoi, m-am uitat fulgerător înspre Marcel şi am şuierat:
-          Marcel, te omooor!...
Nori peste Lacul Telnicea
Am încercat să vâslesc, însă nimic nu părea să funcţioneze. Nici cârma nu mă mai ajuta, pentru că forţa vântului, coroborată cu valurile crescânde, mă ducea înspre un cu totul alt canal decât cel pe care trebuia să apuc. Colac peste pupăză, se apropia şi Maica Stareţă cu o barcă cu motor – alte valuri...
-          Mica, vâsleşte!!
-          Marcel, vino şi vâsleşte tu, să vedem dacă poţi!!
L-am văzut cu coada ochiului cum a pornit înspre mine însă... la fel de rapid, am realizat că nu aveam coardă de remorcare. Ce era să îmi facă? Trebuie să pun punct panicii [asta-i firea mea, mă panichez repede] şi să văd ce este de făcut. Sunt pe cont propriu. Şi trebuie să mă descurc. Hold your ground, Petra! Valurile mă loveau din stânga şi din dreapta şi riscam să mă răstorn. Am băgat padela şi am vâslit puţin stânga spate, cât să am caiacul perpendicular pe valuri. Apoi, profitând de viteza pe care o prind cu BLU, am tras cât am putut de tare. Mi-am revenit puţin şi am prins încredere când m-am văzut pe canalul ce ducea înspre debarcader. Şi totuşi, nu m-am oprit din vâslit decât la 2 metri de mal. Am ieşit din caiac, l-am tras la mal şi l-am tras şi pe Marcel la mal, arătându-i cum îmi tremurau picioarele.
Fusese un moment cheie, în care m-am simţit răzbunată pentru cursul de caiac din 2013, când am renunţat după 2 zile. Nu regret nimic, însă mă bucur că atitudinea mea s-a schimbat şi că am găsit acum puterea să fac faţă situaţiilor dificile. Bine, cu o porţie în plus de ciocolată după ce mi-am scos echipamentul. J   

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Musica Barcensis



Codlea Fortified Church
Stumbling upon this project, two weeks ago, was a great find: a choir in the beautiful Prejmer Fortified Church. Mmmm… That’s nice! How about several concerts in 7 other fortified churches in Ţara Bârsei? That’s even better!
Last Saturday was dedicated to the inauguration of the repaired Prause Organ (1783) at Codlea Fortified Church. Finally getting inside this 13th-century fortified church was a dream that seemed to take ages to materialise…  Well, it did when I found myself staring at the consolidated walls, decorated with the coats of arms of the villages nearby: Brenndorf, Weidenbach, Tartlau… and their names continued to scroll down my mind, like the credits of a movie.

Caressing the old walls
Shyly entering the main building of the church, hearing the concert, marvelling at the inviting tiles and chandelier and more at the mysterious yet resonant light at the back door, I was feeling restless yet at ease in an environment that probably felt closer to my soul than any other Transylvanian fortified church environment previously experienced. Exploring the back yard felt timeless, with the rough bits of the grass stinging my sandally feet. One lingering touch on the enormous wooden doors of the consolidated walls and it felt like caressing time itself. The intense heat had passed and the sunset had come.

Prause Organ

Here are the concerts that you can still attend during the month of August:
-          17.08.; 5;00pm Prejmer
-          23.08.; 4:00pm Braşov [St. Martin Church]
-          24.08.; 5:00pm Prejmer
-          30.08.; 6:00pm Râşnov
-          31.08.; 5:00pm Prejmer