Lunch at Ferma Grand Albanik

Monday, December 31, 2018, 5:31pm

On the last day of 2018, I ended my year with one final adventure! I’d been meaning to try the farm-to-table restaurant in Ballaban, Ferma Grand Albanik, ever since it opened last summer, but for whatever reason, I kept putting off the trip.

Because my friend Sara was in town for the holidays, we decided to spend her vacation trying something new! We were chilly as we left our warm houses and set off into the cold afternoon, hopping from furgon to furgon and finally reaching the village of Ballaban, which is located about 20 minutes away from Kelcyre.

When we arrived in the village, we learned that it would cost 700 leke for a one-way trip to the restaurant, and we were both unwilling to pay such a high price for a short journey.

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2019 New Year’s Resolutions

2019 is a brand new year! Unlike 2018, I have no idea where the next twelve months are going to take me. Now that my Peace Corps service is winding down, the question I get asked most frequently is, “What’s next?” And the truth is, I have no idea.

I’ve always been the person with a plan. I love organization so much that planning is in the name of my degree. But I’ve gone from high school to college to the Peace Corps without a single break, and now it seems like the right time to be a bit directionless.

Where am I going from here? Who knows?

But that doesn’t mean I can’t have a few goals for the new year! In 2018, I did a pretty good job of sticking to my resolutions, and this year, I’m hoping that I can fulfill all of my goals once again. So without further ado, here are my top 10 resolutions of 2019:

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Christmas in Romania: Part 4 (FINAL)

Saturday, December 22, 2018, 8:04pm

Evening at the Sibiu Christmas Market

We arrived in Sibiu around 3:45pm just as the sun was beginning to set over the mountains. Exiting the train station, we walked directly to our hostel, passing more brightly colored and intricately decorated buildings set next to each other in an endless parade of local charm. We walked past the large and festive Christmas market, which was just beginning to come alive in the crisp, evening air. Our hostel was in a historic building located just off the main square along a cobblestone alleyway.

With daylight fading into a gentle, deep blue twilight, we once again ventured out into the Christmas market, which was fully alive with music, food, and ice skating. The mood was festive and vibrant. Dozens and dozens of visitors munched away at delicious fried treats, swayed to the best of the live music, took selfies with the twinkling Christmas tree, or bought last minute gifts for friends and family. There was also a live band that performed Romanian holiday songs with guest singers and a choir.

Like every other Christmas market, there were the customary mulled wine and Christmas cookies for sale. What made the Sibiu market special was the number of unique vendors in the tight space. Everywhere we turned, we found something new to admire, from handcrafted silver jewelry to puffy mittens and handmade soaps. It took at least an hour to tour every stand, and it took another half an hour for Bri and I to decide what we wanted to eat.

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Christmas in Romania: Part 3

Saturday, December 22, 2018, 8:04pm

Searching for Dracula at Bran Castle

Whew! What a crazy, amazing day! We spent the morning at Dracula’s castle in Bran, the afternoon at a Medieval citadel in Râșnov, and the evening in Brașov’s historic city center, making for one insanely packed sightseeing adventure!

To begin our journey, Bri and I woke up around 7:00am for the free hostel breakfast. When I entered the kitchen, another traveler was preparing coffee, so we exchanged introductions and began a lovely conversation over our meal of cold cereal and toast. Since she also had plans to travel to the villages of Bran and Râșnov, we decided to travel together, and after wrapping up our meal, we headed out into the brisk morning weather.

The temperatures eventually climbed to well above freezing, but when we began our day of traveling, the roads were icy and the air was cold. We shuffled our way down the slippery cobblestone streets and through a lovely park to the bus stop. Then we boarded a regional line that took us out of the city and into the Romanian countryside. The fields surrounding Brașov were covered in white, and the mountains in the distance looked imposing and grand.

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Christmas in Romania: Part 2

Friday, December 21, 2018, 9:42pm

Exploring the Fairy Tale Peleș Castle

It’s been a long day on the road, but it finally feels like we’ve entered the Christmas-land I expected when I booked my tickets to Romania. The smaller mountain villages are charming and quaint, covered in snow and positively dripping with holiday spirit!

This morning, Bri and I left the hostel in Bucharest and headed for the train station. Boarding the train, we quietly watched the city fade into the distance as concrete buildings transitioned into barren fields of white, dense forests of gray trees, and rolling hills dotted with gingerbread houses. Mountains and streams began to appear beside the train tracks, glittering with white snow.

Our destination was the mountain resort town of Sinaia, famous for the gorgeous Peleș Castle. Stepping off the train, Bri and I were instantly charmed. The train station was a picturesque building with wooden trim, situated at the bottom of a mountain valley. To enter into the village, we climbed the side of a hill and found a clustering of beautiful villas and a lively marketplace with more modern architecture for the skiing crowd.

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