Korab villages

ALBANIA
September 2018

Walking between highland villages on the slopes of Korab mountain, and enjoying the hospitality of the friendly locals.

DAY 1 (19/9): PESHKOPI


The Peshkopi Backpackers Hostel. Perfect location in the middle of Peshkopi, with nice views over the town and surrounding mountains. The house was used by the former dictator Enver Hoxha when he visited Peshkopi, and much of the furniture inside is preserved from that era.


The view from the hostel terrace.

DAY 2 (20/9): RABDISHT

The son of the guest house we were going to stay at picked us up with his car.


View from the car, on the way to Rabdisht village.


Our wonderful hosts, Festa and Sabri.


Sabri showing us 180 years old doctor’s equipment from his ancestors, while we enjoyed the tasty fruits from their garden and nuts from the surrounding nature.


Oragnic food. Bean stew, nettle pie, stuffed cabbage rolls etc. A paradise for vegetarians! And all the ingredients were 100% organic and produced by themselves.


Making byrek the proper way.


Sabri showed us the way to some caves outside the village. They were constructed during communism to function as bomb shelters.


Scary caves can also be a lot of fun :)


600 years old pine trees clinging to the rocks above Rabdisht.


We were told that this woman was 100 years old. She sure looked strong and healthy!


Bringing back some firewood from the forest.

DAY 3 (21/9): MORE RABDISHT

This day we walked on our own. We took the path towards Zagrad village, but only to the top of the ridge to get some nice views. We then returned the same way back to the village. This section is part of the High Scardus Trail, but it still not marked or signposted. Finding the way was easy anyway.


View over Rabdisht


Lunch on the top of the ridge


View into the next valley to the north, with the villages Bellovë and Cerjan. The red dot shows where we walked the following two days.


Bellovë village


A small glimpse of Zagrad village (below to the right). This was all we saw of Zagrad, since the guesthouse we planned to stay in had to cancel because of a funeral. We look forward to go there some other trip :)


We returned to Rabdisht. We said hello to someone on the street, and next thing we knew we were sitting in their living room eating snacks, fruits and drinking coffee and yogurt.


In the evening I went for a small run above Rabdisht.

DAY 4 (22/9): BELLOVË TO CERJAN


We shared a car with Sabri and Festa, before the car dropped us of by the school in Bellovë village.


The bridge in Bellovë.


Hazelnut season. The standard snack among the locals, it seems.


“Thana” berries were in season, very tasty.


Colorful rocks


Lunch on a meadow


Bear droppings


Cerjan village


Potatoe harvest


A friendly local showed us the way, and Simon got to ride the horse :)


Here we just arrived at the guesthouse. Our host Hassan (white t-shirt) and his family were very friendly and hospitable. Finn & Simon had a lot of fun playing with their kids too.


Super-delicious pears.


Using wild herbs for tea (and medicine) is very common here. Hassan told me that he once went up to the mountains by horse to spend a whole month up there riding and picking herbs.


Making cheese


We went for a walk with Hassan & his sons, around the village.


Most inhabitants have left Cerjan. There are only about ten permanent families, but a few decades ago there were a couple of thousand inhabitants.


Many houses are in ruins. But the remaining houses are very rustic and nice.
There is no sound of motors whatsoever. Most streets look more like paths. Very pieceful and charming!


A wonderful peak of the Korab massif


“Thana” berries


Tired legs? Then you get to ride on the horse :)

DAY 5 (23/9): CERJAN TO BELLOVË


We said goodbye to our nice hosts and walked down to Bellovë by a different path.


Cerjan


Colorful rocks


View of Cerjan and the Korab ridge.


Snacks break


We just said “hello” to these ladies in Bellovë and asked if there was a bus or taxi in the village. “No bus, no taxi” they said, but gave us a big bag of walnuts and hazelnuts :)



The man in the red t-shirt came down the street towards us, waving some car keys and asking “Taxi?”. Perhaps the ladies had spoken to him. We replied “Po!” (=yes)


Then man drove us back to Peshkopi. On the way we made a short stop by the natural hot springs, where locals bathe in the hot sulfur-smelling water to relieve their joint pains.

To summarize, Albania is a wonderful country. Diber is a wonderful region. And Rabdisht, Cerjan and Bellovë are super-picturesque villages whose friendly inhabitants we will never forget.

Balea Lac

ROMANIA
August 2018

Day-hikes from the hut, located at 2000 meters altitude in the heart of the Fagaras mountains.

DAY 1: FIRST HIKE AT BALEA LAC

This day we walked the blue stripe trail going east-west across the slopes south of the lake.


The location of the hut is fantastic. The terrace of the restaurant would have offered exceptional tranquility with the sound of a distant waterfall, if the restaurant hadn’t played loud music all of the time…


Arriving at the ridge where the descent back to the hut starts.


House of the mountain rescue service.

DAY 2: CALTUN LAKE

A challenging day for Finn, to ascend 300+ meters on a steep and rocky trail, up to the ridge and then down a 100 meters or so to the lake. And finally back the same way again. He made it!


Sunny weather it seems.


Clouds moving in…


Starting the ascent.


The kids watching a shepherd


The shepherd’s dogs


The sheep were heading for Caltun lake too


Caltun lake


Returning trough mist


Don’t go too close to the edge, please


View of the Transfagarasean road (famous as “the world’s best road” from the TV show Top Gear)

DAY 3: BLUE DOT TRAIL

A nice trail, but Finn was a bit too tired to walk. Not strange, considering how tough it was yesterday. I walked half-way up the valley towards lui Butreanu peak, just to have a look. Wonderful scenery, but I didn’t bring my camera.

DAY 4: LEAVING BALEA LAC


Taking the gondola lift down.


The kids loved it


Balea waterfall visible in the distance.


A roma man offered us a lift in his horse and cart to the village railway station :)


Back in Sibiu city

Brasov & Timpa

ROMANIA
May 2017

A walk in the forested mountain right next to the old town of Brasov city. Close to civilisation, but still with bear droppings on the path.


We stayed in an apartment overlooking the central square in the old town, called Piata Sfatului.


The view towards the Postavarul mountain from Timpa peak.


A bear was here before us…


Simon hiking :)


Back in Brasov, entering the old town through this medieval gate.

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…