Out for a walk beside the Ottawa River in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada!
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Heading to Nova Scotia around August 1st.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Another shady car rental deal

We arrived in Iasi (pronouced Ee-ash) early yesterday morning and didn't waste any time. We only had the one day to see the city itself, so even though we were a bit tired from our overnight train journey we headed out as soon as we got things settled.

And, we had organized a car rental for our time here. We didn't really need it for yesterday, but we wanted to do a long day trip today so by picking it up yesterday we could get an early start today.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A moment of panic...

Well, it was an interesting 24 hours, just as I figured it might be! But, we are now here in the city of Iași (pop 316,000) at the far eastern edge of Romania. We are only about 25 kms (15 miles) from the border of The Republic of Moldova. And we are at our AirBnb guesthouse...just as planned.

But it almost didn't happen that way. And there was the odd moment of panic.

Monday, November 28, 2016

It's going to be an interesting 24 hours...

Yesterday was a relaxing day, just like we planned.

It's tough when you're visiting a new country and you don't want to waste any time. There's too much to see and do and we don't want to miss any of it. But, we've learned that you need to take some down time. Yesterday's weather wasn't the nicest, so we took our time in the morning, got caught up on some computer things, and after lunch I had nap.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Another birthday, another country...

Happy 55th to my beautiful wife Ruth today as we once again celebrate her birthday in a new country. Last year we were in Colombia. We don't expect this trend to end anytime soon, so I wonder where we'll be for next year's birthday?!

We learned a couple of years ago that birthdays are not going to be travel days. Birthdays are relax days. Plus, it's raining today and we've pretty much exhausted the immediate area of things to see and do.

We are, however, going out for dinner!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Arsenal Park and a 2,000 year old ruins site

Interesting day yesterday as we first went to a Soviet military theme park, and then up into the mountains to the remains of a Dacian settlement from 2,000 years ago.

Had to put fuel in the car for the first time. This car is a diesel, and the onboard trip computer said that we were averaging 4.2 l/100 kms. That's 56 mpg! Wow! We had already driven over 800 kms (500 miles) and still had a quarter tank. It cost 150 lei ($49.50 CAD, $36 USD) to fill it up.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Searching for the tunnel of love...

A bit of a late start as we fight with internet connection problems here at the guest house. Frustrating, because the reviews had all mentioned how good the internet was at this particular place, but other than the very first day, we've had nothing but problems. Good thing I have the iPhone with a Romanian SIM card as a back up.

Anyhow, with the blog finally posted we headed out with two destinations in mind. One was to see the oldest church in Romania, and the other was to find the tunnel of love!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Now, *this* is a castle!

But before we get to that, I have to tell you our decision on yesterday's travel choice from Alba Iulia to Iasi. We decided to buy the first class sleeper tickets at $71 each.

After the fact, reader "iwasthere" suggested that we could fly from Cluj to Iasi for about $40 each. I looked it up, and that is partly correct. But the best I could find was actually $54 each, plus the cost of one bag at $32. So, approximately the same amount of money as the sleeper berth on the train.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Travel day...and some choices to make!

Yesterday was a travel day. We were driving 164 kms (102 miles) from Apuseni National Park to the village of Teliucu Inferior, which is located about 5 kms (3 miles) south of the famous Corvin Castle which we will be visiting at some point over the next few days.

Having a rental car has made our time here in Romania quite a lot more expensive than we originally planned, but it sure is convenient and we now think it's worth the extra expense for this particular country. We think if we had to do it all over again, we would have booked a rental for the entire month. Rentals for more than 2 weeks at a time get considerably cheaper on a "per day" basis.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

It's always an adventure...

Our host here at the Cota 1000 Chalet had given us some ideas of things to do in the area, and yesterday morning we drove what was supposed to be a circular route with several stops at caves.

But the very narrow mountain road was partly covered in ice at some sections, and despite our snow tires and my Canadian winter driving skills, we had to turn around and go at it from a different direction.

Monday, November 21, 2016

The things we do to get to a waterfall...

On the road at 9:15am yesterday. Not bad.

We're on the edge of Apuseni National Park, and it's not easy driving. We didn't have a long distance to drive, only about 85 kms (53 miles), but I figured that's at least a two hour drive on these roads. Plus, we needed to stop and take photos along the way!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

A perfect day in Romania!

We woke up early yesterday, had breakfast at the guest house, and hit the road by 9:30am. We headed for a nearby gorge, hoping to do a hike through the gorge.

It was looking to be a beautiful day and because it was Saturday we figured the area might be busy and we wanted to beat the crowds.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Finally...a rental car!

Wow, what a circus trying to get a rental car here. Actually, I should qualify that...if we were willing to pay 25 euros ($36 CAD, $27 USD) per day, then it would have been quick and easy. But during low season, there's no way we're paying that kind of money for a ten day rental.

So we had arranged to get a car yesterday morning at 10:00am, but shortly before that they had called to cancel, saying that the people who have the car they were expecting back were keeping it for three more days. They offered the phone number of another place that might be able to help.

And once again, our couchsurfing host Gaby came through for us!

Friday, November 18, 2016

So, maybe things were meant to happen this way...

Spent much of yesterday morning on the phone and the internet trying to organize a car rental. Lots of thanks to our couchsurfing host Valentina for all of her translation efforts! Some of the car rental websites have English, but not all.

We ended up with a pretty good deal...162 euros ($233 CAD, $173 USD) for 10 days, but we were going to have to go 100 kms north of here to the city of Cluj by bus to pick up the car. So we made plans to do that this morning.

And then, it turned out all of that effort was for nothing.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Gastronomic Adventures in Southeastern Spain: A Taste of Murcia

Traditionally when someone mentions Spain, the first things that spring to mind are the glorious, soft-sandy beaches, refreshing sangrias, colorful local festivals and of course, the wonderful Spanish cuisines native to its regions. From the popular Spanish Costas, the emerald islands of the Balearics and the Canaries and even to the leading Spanish cities of Barcelona and Madrid.

Spain has attractions galore which are sure to appeal to the preferences of visitors in Murcia.

We were due for some exercise!

I said yesterday that we were due for a more relaxing day, but I didn't expect it to be yesterday. Still, we did manage to get out for some exercise. We're trying to plan our onward travels but we're having a hard time coming up with something concrete, and part of the problem is that we're enjoying our time here in the village of Oarda de Sus.

We need to rent a car because there are several day trips we want to do from here. But the car rental places here base their daily pricing on how many days you have the car.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Now, this is a civilized way to buy wine!

It was 11:00am by the time we got out the door yesterday morning. It takes a long time to sort the photos of our activities and post the blog. I guess we have to stop doing so much stuff. We are kind of due for a relax day, but I don't see that happening any time soon...there is too much to see and do!

Our couchsurfing host Valentina was going into town, so we went along with her and she dropped us off at one of the entrances to the citadel here in central Alba Iulia.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Travel Day - Sibiu to Alba Iulia, Romania

Our Airbnb host Andrei was off to work yesterday morning at 7:30am, but he left us a key so that we could come and go. Our planned bus to Alba Iulia wasn't leaving until 2:15pm, so we had some time to go wander around the city of Sibiu some more.

So we stayed in until 10:00am or so as it started to warm up a little outside. The entire country of Romania has been experiencing an unusual cold spell, but that is supposed to break tomorrow.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Blizzard...but what an adventure!

Yesterday morning, I got a phone call from the blablacars driver we had booked, saying that he was ahead of schedule and could we meet him a half an hour early. We had to rush a bit, but it was no problem.

There had been some snow flurries early this morning, and it was gradually getting worse. By the time we left at about 11:15am, it was actually snowing quite heavily!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Around the medieval city wall, and a good dinner out!

We relaxed yesterday morning, and planned our travel for the next couple of days. We had been heading to Sibiu for a few days, about 2 1/2 hours west of Brasov. But we received an email from the Mayors office of the nearby city of Alba Iulia asking if we would visit their city, so that's what we're going to do! We're still going to Sibiu first though, but only for one night.

We were going to take the bus to Sibiu but Daniel (our host here at the guesthouse) asked if we had tried blablacars yet. I had heard of it, but no...we hadn't tried it.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Another great day in Romania!

First thing we had to do yesterday morning was to return our rental car. We had picked it up at 10:00am, and so we had to return it at the same time. But, the car rental company had also specified that it was our obligation to return it clean and washed, and of course full of gas...just the way we had picked it up.

So the first thing we did was to go to a Romanian gas station for the first time.

Friday, November 11, 2016

It was slippery and muddy, but we made it!

Okay, so here's the second part of our day yesterday. We did too much exploring (is there such a thing??), so we had to break it into two separate posts. You can go back and check part one here if you missed it...


When we left you last, we were in the medieval Sighișoara citadel, and about to wander the narrow streets to see some of the houses of the people who still live there.

I'm the king of the castle!

We had a busy day yesterday. And when we sorted through the 100 photos we took, we decided there was no way to show you them all in one blog post. And so even though we have whittled them down to 54 photos after tossing the not so good ones, you're still going to get two blog posts today.

So, here is part 1...

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Peles Castle

We woke up to another drizzly day, but this time we hopped in the car and went exploring. We have to try and get out a little earlier, because time seems to go by so quickly when it gets dark around 5:00pm!

We were headed only about an hour south of Brasov to the town of Sinaia, and the magnificent Peles Castle.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Grocery shopping in Romania

We woke up to rain yesterday morning, so we just relaxed at the guest house. There are only four rooms here, and the basement is the common area with a nice living room and kitchen space. We've been the only ones here for two nights, although two more rooms were occupied last night.

This is a popular guesthouse, but it's low season for tourism here in Romania, so it's only been full on weekends.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

A couple of funny things happened yesterday...

Yesterday morning we picked up our rental car. Our appointment was at 10:00am, and we were there five minutes ahead of time. They had booked us a 2012 Renault Clio, a small hatchback. But when the girl sat us down to do the paperwork, she apologized that the car was in service, and they were giving us a slightly bigger one, a 2013 Dacia Logan. No problem for us, we just wanted transportation.

Rental cars are priced in euros here in Romania, but when they charge your card, it is in the lei equivalent. It's tough to find anything under 25 euros ($37 CAD, $28 USD) per day, unless you are taking the car for longer than a week.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Busy day with lots of pictures in Brasov, Romania!

Our guesthouse host Daniel picked us up exactly at 10:00am from the studio apartment where we were staying at his parent's place. We drove through the old part of town to the opposite side, with Daniel pointing things out along the way.

Just before we arrived at La Despani Guesthouse, I noticed the car rental place where we have our booking for this morning. I knew it was quite close to the guesthouse, but it's almost right across the street!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Travel day!...Bucharest to Brasov

Travel days in a new country are always interesting!

You just never know exactly how things are going to go, despite planning in advance as much as you can. And of course you don't know what you're going to see along the way. Yesterday, we planned to take the train from Bucharest to Brasov, Romania a distance of about 166 kms (103 miles) by rail.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Lesson learned...

We slept in a little bit on Friday morning. Not much really, but then we kind of relaxed for a couple of hours before getting ambitious enough to get outside. It was about 10:30am by the time we left the apartment.

Oh, speaking of which, some of you had asked for pictures of where we're staying. We had booked an AirBnb rental to stay in a private room in a shared apartment in Bucharest. We got lucky in that our hosts Cosmin and Carmen are really nice and helpful people, and we will probably stay with them again when we return to Bucharest in mid December.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Exploring Bucharest, Romania

We haven't had any problem with "jet lag". But then, we rarely do. We try right away to put ourselves into the current time without thinking about what the time was when we left Canada. And so even though we had been tired the night before, we slept well and woke up just after 7:00am.

But then it took us a while to get going. We had some internet time and a cup of tea, and before we knew it it was 9:30am. Can't be wasting the day away, because there's too much to see!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Arrived in Romania!

When we left you yesterday, we were sitting in Zurich airport, waiting for our flight from Zurich to Bucharest.

The mid afternoon flight went fine, and in fact we even slept for part of it, which is not normal for us. But the previous overnight transatlantic flight and six hour time change does funny stuff to your system, so we were glad that we managed to get another hour's nap!

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Hello Switzerland!

Well, we made it across the pond. A little tired, but excited to be here, so it's all good. Sitting in Zurich airport as I write this, waiting for our 11:55am flight to Bucharest.

The flight from Ottawa to Montreal was fine. I think we were only in the air for 20 minutes. You just get up there, and you start to come back down!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

It's going to be a long day and a half!

But we love this stuff. The next time you hear from us, we'll be in Zurich, Switzerland. How cool is that??

We fly Air Canada from Ottawa to Montreal at 3:20 this afternoon. Then, a short wait before our 6:00pm overnight Swiss Air flight from Montreal to Zurich, Switzerland. The flight time is 7h:20m, and there's a 5 hour time change so it will be 6:20am when we arrive in Zurich.