Piatra Craiului

ROMANIA
May 2017

A walk among the idyllic villages Pestera and Magura on the foothills of Piatra Craiului.

DAY 1 (3/5): Zarnesti – Pestera

We took a train from Brasov to Zarnesti, then walked from there. We passed the Cabana Gura Rauliu mountain hut, which was closed, and the Fantana Lui Botrog spring.


A break in the valley before ascending up to the villages.


Romantic farms on the meadows above the wild forests.


Finn running up the hill


Finn the shepherd


The house we stayed in is the one marked with a red circle.


The still snow-covered mountain Bucegi (about 2500 meters high) in the background.


We did a short excursion to the Prapastile Zarnestilor gorge.


Gentiana flowers.


From the garden of the house we stayed in, we could see a black spot moving on the rocks on the opposite side of the valley…


A bear!


About 15 minutes later we saw four dots moving on another rock…


Four bears! A mother and three cubs.

DAY 2 (4/5): Pestera – Magura


A nice breakfast buffé.


A chamois hanging out on the rocks.

We started the day by a short walk around the Pestera village.


Finn investigating a dead mole.

Next, we did another excursion towards a high hill that looked like it would have a nice view. It didn’t disappoint!


View towards Bucegi from the top of the hill.


View towards Piatra Craiului


Another view of Piatra Craiului.


Yet another view of Piatra Craiului…


I love the way the house is situated in the middle of the meadow, without any road leading up to it!


Heading towards Magura village, looking back towards Pestera.


A shepherd


Magura church and Bucegi in the background.


This family walked up a small, steep path. They were probably heading for their house, though we couldn’t see it so it must have been far up. A boy came riding on this horse to help them out by carrying their bags.


This metal shed was actually a very cool café/bar :)


We ordered coffee and plum brandy.


Follow the fence uo behind the shed, and you will reach the customer toilet by the tree :)


Me and Simon.


Finn and Simon playing in the sand box (actually just a pile of sand by a construction site :) )


Typical Romanian house in Magura.


Last climb before we reach our accommodation.


Our accommodation. This hotel was really luxurious, but felt a bit boring compared to the charming family-run guest houses that we usually stayed in during the trip.


Having fun in the hotel restaurant.

DAY 3 (5/5): Magura – Moeciu – Bran

We had planned to walk directly to Bran, but rain and a supposedly steep and slippery trail to Bran made us change the route. Instead, we walked a small road down to Moeciu, and from there we took a bus to Bran.


The Magura Branului ridge.


Wunderbaum heaven in the bus :)



The “Dracula’s castle” in Bran.

Sighisoara & Breite

ROMANIA
May 2017

Breite is the name of a nature reserve which can be described as a savannah of meadows and huge oak trees. There are hundreds of oaks, many of them several hundred years old. These meadows cover the top of a long ridge, surrounded by steep beech forests. Breite is located just outside the town Sighisoara, a beutiful town that is considered to be one of the best-preserved medieval towns in the world.


Sighisoara clock tower



Sighisoara fortification towers


Time to hike! The trail started by ascending through nice beech forest.

We finally reached the Breite plateu – a savannah of meadows and giant oaks.


Gray-headed woodpecker (“Gråspett” in Swedish)


Breite must be a paradise for insects, with so many oaks in various states of decay.


Leaving Breit to descend through the forest back to Sighisoara.


View of the Sighisoara suburbs.

Saxon villages

ROMANIA
April 2017

Hiking among the saxon villages of southern Transylvania. This was Simon’s very first trip abroad, and his very first proper hiking trip.

DAY 0 (27/4): Medias

Our trip started with a flight from Malmö to Cluj, where we had time for a lunch at the restaurant Samsara – a superb vegetarian restaurant. We had many very nice meals on the trip, but this very first meal was never exceeded :)

Next, we went by train to the cosy town Medias. It had a nicely renovated old town, and we stayed in an apartment overlooking the main park and the cathedral.


The view from our bedroom in Medias.

DAY 1 (28/4): Copsa Mare – Biertan

We took a taxi to Copsa Mare village.


After visiting the old saxon church, we had lunch at a playground. Very soon local children showed up, and played with Finn and Simon.


The hike starts.


Ingmar said: “Finn is sleeping like a log”


Last view of the old saxon church in Copsa Mare.


Sand lizard


First view of Biertan village. In the center of the village is one of the largest and most famous of all the saxon fortified churches.


Our accommodation, next to the triple defensive walls.


Practical solution, with good ventilation too…


Typical saxon architecture

DAY 2 (29/4): Biertan – Dupus – Atel


Leaving Biertan


Typical landscape of the area


Traffic jam


European green lizard (Lacerta viridis)


Watching geese in Dupus


The police house of the village. It was also used as a kindergarten :)


Walking a hollow way through the forest, out of Dupus.


Sara & Simon


Corn storage in Atel


Finn feeding a donkey


View of Atel village and its saxon church.


Atel.

DAY 3 (30/4): Atel – Brateiu


A school bus jeep.


Shephers.


It had rained during the night, so the paths were very muddy. We left the road and walked in the forest instead.


Cow’s skull


Brateiu and its saxon church.


Brothers :)


The Brateiu “railway station”. A few concrete blocks on the ground is the only clue that this is where the train stops…

Amalfi coast

ITALY
October 2015

Walking between villages along one of the most spectacular coastlines in Italy. The Amalfi coast is simply breathtaking.

DAY 1 (19/10): MINORI – RAVELLO – ATRANI


We rented this house in Minori, called “Il Campanile” agrotourism. The house wasn’t accessible by car, which is common in this area.


View from our house over Minori village


Plenty of staircases when walking here


Minori beach front


A “tunnel street” in Minori


Torello, a small village between Minori and Ravello


Ravello main square


Ravello street


View towards Pontone village (and Pogerola further away in the distance) shortly before the Villa Cimbrone


Villa Cimbrone


View from the terrace in the villa garden


Descending from Ravello towards Atrani


Entering the Drogone valley


Reaching Atrani town


Caves


Atrani was perhaps the most exotic town we visited, like a pirate’s nest. The streets were very narrow, often tunnels.


The main square in Atrani. The street to the left is probably the largest “road” in the village :)


The church in Atrani, seen from the bus stop


One last view of the packed town of Atrani

DAY 2 (20/10): MINORI – MAIORI


View into the Sambuco valley behind Minori


Maiori


Pizza and wine at a trattoria


Waiting for the bus in Maiori

DAY 3 (21/10): MULLINI VALLEY


We took the bus to Amalfi town, probably the most beautiful of the ones we visited, but also the most touristy.


We started ascending towards Pontone village.


Amalfi is really squeezed in between steep mountains and the sea.


View towards Amalfi from Pontone village


In the outskirts of Pontone village


Entering the Ferriere valley


We reached the valley floor at this ruin of an old mill.


Behind the mill was a couple of nice waterfalls.


We passed several ruins of old paper mills on the way back to Amalfi.

DAY 4 (22/10): SAMBUCO VALLEY

Pretty bad weather this day. Instead of doing the high walk around the Ferriere valley, we decided on the Sambuco valley. The latter route started at our house, so we could just as well give it a try in spite of the bad weather. It was mostly in the forest and less touristy as it was further from the coast.


Through chestnut woods


A lot of chestnuts…


View of the valley from Sambuco village. This felt like a genuine farming village, far from the tourist crowds of the coast.


There were some old mill ruins in this village too.

DAY 5 (23/10): THE PATH OF THE GODS (DEGLI DEI)

We saved the best for last, and the weather was finally sunny. This is by far the most popular and famous trail on the Amalfi coast. And rightly so, because the views were the best we saw on the entire trip.


Descending from the Agerola plateu.


Old rock dwellings


An interesting rock pillar, split at the top


Rock walls that were full of caves


After Colle della sera, we reached this fountain and suddenly the classic view of the coastline opened up for us.


These views are why “The path of the Gods” is so famous


Positano


Nocelle village, the end of the hike


View from Nocelle

Vakkotavare to Nikkaluokta

SWEDEN
August 2015

A hike along Kungsleden (“the Royal Trail”) in Lappland from Vakkotavare to Singi, and then via Kebnekaise to Nikkaluokta. We camped next to huts every night. Finn was almost 2 years old on this hike and his grandmother Lena joined us.

Day 1: Vakkotavare – Teusajaure


First view of the lake in the Teusajaure valley


We reached the lake about 9:30pm, which was too late for the regular boat. So we had to row over. It started raining and was a bit windy. Since there was only one boat on this side, we had to go three rounds: first to the other side, then with two boats back, and then over again. The reson is that there must always be at least one boat on each shore. After all this rowing in the rain and wind, we were very tired. After pitching the tent and eating some food it was almost midnight when we went to sleep.

Day 2: Rest day in Teusajaure
Day 3: Teusajaure – Kaitum


A beautiful day, warm and sunny. So this is what the Teusajaure looks like :) I would like to come back and explore more of this valley in the future.


The lake in the other direction (view from the hut)


A steep ascent along a stream with waterfalls, and great views over the lake.


Nice waterfalls at the top of the ascent


A group of reindeers gathered on the snow


Finn walking by himself for an hour of so. In the background are peaks from the legendary Sarek national park.


Descending into the Kaitum valley


A river flowing into the Kaitum lake. To the right is the Kaitum delta.

DAY 4: Climbing sanjartjåkka peak


The Kaitum huts. In the background the delta area where giant moose are often seen. We saw three of them!


One of the moose we saw. In this area there is no hunting so the moose grow to a much larger size than in the lowlands. The lowland moose is still larger than horses, so you can just imagine how huge this moose in this delta is…


The Kaitum lake with its amazing green color


We started to climb the Sanjartjåkka peak, and the views just got better and better… You can see the hus to the right. I haven’t seen many mountain huts in my life with a better location!


I love this view so much, that I couldn’t choose only one photo… :)


Again peaks in Sarek national park, with many glaciers.

View from the peak of Sanjartjåkka towards Norway. Could that be a fjord in the distance?

Nice grooves on the mountain slope.


View towards north, where we will walk tomorrow.
The cloudy peaks to the right is the Kebnekaise massif where the highest peak in Sweden is found.


It was quite steep here (more than it looks like on this photo). We could just sit down and slide fast down the mountain :)


Finn and Lena waited for us at 1400 m altitude. We didn’t want to climb the steep, slippery snow with Finn… but he had a good time while waiting for us :)

DAY 5: Kaitum – Singi


A beautiful hike, but we had quite bad weather so I didn’t take many photos.
Until we pitched our tent and the clouds opened up in the evening, letting the sun shine up the place with this weird yellow light.

DAY 6: Resting in the singi hut


Finn had fun with this sami girl, daughter to one of the staff. We had a lof of fun in the huts in general, speaking to other hikers.

DAY 7: SINGI – Kebnekaise


Entering the Ladtjovagge valley


Finn with his walking stick, which we brought home :)


Finn walked about 1-1½ hours every day. We usually didn’t get very far. Not only did he run around back and forward rather than walking only forward. He also insited on picking up large rocks :)


In the evening we finally reached the Kebnekaise hut. From there we climbed Kaisepakte hill, where we had this classic view. The valley to the left is where we came from.

DAY 8: Around the KEBNEKAISE hut


An “earth teepee” (jordkåta)

Finn is kissing the dog


A great thing with walking with a 2 year old is that he can charm the staff in the café, so that all four of us got free cinnamon buns :)


We crossed “Lisa’s bridge” and turned right. There we found this nice waterfall.


A small gorge where the current and boulders had carved our smooth, rounded shapes in the rocks.


Åkerbär (“arctic bramble” or “arctic raspberry”) is a very rare berry, which is supposed to be super-tasty. We found many plants but no berries.


A natural rock overhang. Perfect shelter during rain :)


This area was full of huge scattered boulders, some of them cracked.


Finn is learning how to recognize moose droppings.

DAY 9: Climbing Skartaklacken


After crossing Lisa’s bridge we turned left and followed the stream. Then across this large open field, shortly before starting the ascent.


That’s our goal. The peak is supposed to have superb views over the  Kebnekaise massif.


We followed the footsteps of a reindeer.




A weasel among the rocks!


Superb view below Skartaklacken. The highest peak of Sweden, Kebnekaise, is unfortunately behind the clouds to the right.


Again, we could just slide down. Lots of fun :) The lake at the end of the view is where Nikkaluokta village is located  (the end of our hike).


The little white patch of snow among the clouds to the right is the southern peak of Kebnekaise mountain – the highest peak of Sweden. It’s about 2100 meters or so. The peak itself is a pyramid-shaped glacier and it’s size changes during the year. Overall it is melting unfortunately. Very soon it will no longer be the highest peak anymore.


Another cool rock overhang with plenty of space below it.


View from inside the rock overhang.

Back at the cracked boulder.


Another visit to the waterfall on the way back, just to see it in sunny weather.

DAY 10: Kebnekaise hut – Forest camp


A short walk this day. We camped out to enjoy the pure nature one last time.

DAY 11: FOREST CAMP – Nikkaluokta


You can take a boat here to save time, but we walked along the lake instead.


The cafe here is very cosy and well worth a visit. However, it seems like they are replacing this small building with a larger one that is being constructed.


BBQ reindeer burgers at “Lap Donald’s” :)
It made me think of “Yak Donald’s” in Nepal :)

We walked through the forest – where we saw a reindeer with unusually large antlers – until we reached Nikkaluokta village. There we camped out a last time, and the next day took a bus back to civilisation.