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Transfăgărășan Road into the Clouds and a 60′ Wall of Snow!

Before I get into the journey from Bucharest up into the Carpathian Mountains, I thought you might like a sneak peak at what a traffic jam looks like on the Transfăgărășan Road…

Being an avid “Top Gear” fan, I had seen the episode they did on what they termed the most amazing road in the world, the Transfăgărășan Road – but for some reason, forgot where it was until the other day I was exploring online and came across it and recalled it is actually in the Carpathian Mountains of Romania…

So, of course, I needed to do a road trip!  🙂

On this trip, as with the trip to the salt mines, I had a private tour guide – and he is soooo wonderful, I will write a separate post about Adrian and his Team before I leave Romania…

(and I need to point out right from the beginning – as I was scrolling through the photos to make notes, I kept thinking about how they sooooooo do not do justice to the majesty and beauty that we encountered)

Anyway, we left Bucharest reasonably early…

…and I have travelled to the other side of the planet, but still am haunted by Las Vegas!!!  (on Adrian’s keyring)

The Argeș River…

This building below is one of many, many now abandoned and dilapidated communist farming co-operative buildings…

…and of course, I had to buy some new clothes and a scarf!

This is the Cathedral of Curtea de Argeș and is stunningly beautiful…

Inside the Cathedral are buried the two favourite Kings of Romania and their Queens – Kings Carol I, and Ferdinand; and their Queens – Elisabeta and Maria (Queen Victoria’s grand-daughter).

Although the Queen’s actual name was Pauline Elisabeth Ottilie Luise zu Wied, the majority also knew her through her literary works under the name, Carmen Silva [Sylva].

In this photo below, you will see a red image on the wall and this is such a sad story…

During construction, everything they built by day was mysteriously ruined by night – every night!  Tormented by the fact that he couldn’t finish his construction, master Manole dreamed one night that the only way that he could complete his masterpiece was to offer a human sacrifice. After he woke up, he and his workers decided that the first person to arrive that morning on the construction site should be the one sacrificed.

Unfortunately, the first person to arrive was Manole’s pregnant wife, Ana who had awoken especially early to prepare her husband a lovely meal and bring it to him.

Undaunted but heart-broken, Manole enclosed his wife and unborn child into the wall, brick by brick… and construction continued…

Manole did not come away with his life either…  After he and his men managed to finish the construction King Neagoe Basarab liked it so much that he wanted to make sure that a construction like that would never be replicated and so he locked all the men in the attic of the building intending never to release them.

Using the only items they had available, Manole and his men tried to escape their captives by building wooden wings and intending to fly down to the ground safely…  Every man died in the attempt…

…and this is King Neagoe Basarab of Wallachia who ordered construction of the building and death to the workers who created it…

On this stall, I found Heaven!

I had no idea about the notion of eating pollen – nor the combination of eating pollen and honey…

Pollen is one of the most amazing super-foods on the planet and is higher in protein than even meat!  http://www.mercola.com/article/diet/bee_pollen.htm

To traditional and ancient beekeepers, the pollen represents the masculine and the honey the feminine – the pollen gives you the protein and the honey the carbohydrates…

Even modern medicine has done experiments and proven the effectiveness of the combination, far outweighing the benefit of either alone.  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20645809

…and when you combine them from the same hive…….  Magic!

As a side note, in addition to the pollen and honey I purchased from this woman, Adrian was able to find me some FRESH (as in not dried) pollen here and I now take a large teaspoon of pollen and a large teaspoon of honey – just as is – and the a couple of strawberries (as apparently there is something in the fibres of the fruit that kickstart the reaction…

…and I do this as many times as I feel the urge to during the day – sometimes just twice, sometimes as much as five or six times…

It’s amazing!

 

 

…and now we reach the beginning of the Transfăgărășan Road… and this sign says that the road is only accessible for 104km – you will find out why soon…

…and here we have the real Dracula’s castle, well, sort of…

From Atlas Obscura:  “The true Dracula, (Turk-impaling Prince of Wallachia as opposed to the sultry blood sucker) fell in love with Poenari Castle in the 15th century, and realizing its potential as a major stronghold with an amazing vantage point, consolidated and fixed up the crumbling fortress, making it one of his main places of residence. It’s said that his first wife, Jusztina Szilagyi of Moldavia, flung herself from the towers of Poenari during a siege by Vlad’s muslim brother, Radu Bey. Before flinging herself into the Arges River below, she exclaimed she would rather rot and be eaten by the fish than to be a captive of the Turks.”

…and if you look carefully below, you will see a couple of impailed peasants…

“Ceresit” is simply an advertisement for a concrete company…

…and this little critter decided to come and visit – which is apparently a sign of good luck!

These women are picking the very tips from the new growth on the fir trees.  The Romanians ferment it and then around Christmas time turn it into a drink…

 

 

 

 

There are little temples like this scattered all through the country on the side of the road…

…and despite this being the middle of summer, we come across our first snow… but that is NOTHING compared with what we find a little later on…

 

 

The squiggly lines you see is actually the road…

The railings are destroyed every year by the snow…

Only two weeks ago, this area was under tens of feet of snow…

See the concrete structure in the middle of the photo below?  That’s the tunnel through which we would normally drive!

The wall of snow you see in the picture below is where we would normally drive… but what’s even more amazing is that in around three weeks, it will all be melted!!!

The water from this natural fountain was soooo sweet and pure…….

 

…and our traffic jam…

This slogan appears a LOT through Romania…  “Basarabia e Romania” means Basarabia (the bulk part of Moldova and a minor part Ukraine) is Romania – as there is still a huge push to have Basarabia reunited with Romania.

Want cheap wifi?  That’s certainly what you get here!

…and then back to my favourite restaurant for a late supper… (and this photo does not even come close to doing this meal justice!)

Oh, and I managed to find the Top Gear episode about the Transfăgărășan Road online:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bORvyzgykqw

~ Bella

Transylvania, Castles and more…

Oh my goodness gracious me…  I didn’t really have expectations before arriving in Romania – but even if I did, they would have all been blown out of the water…

I will give you a more in-depth response in a week or so when I update this post, but for now, know that I will be back – probably more than once – and I love this country!  I have made several new friends – find this to actually be the ‘free-est’ place I have ever experienced in soooo many ways – and feel like one month will not be enough to do it justice…

Anyway, here are the photos from my Transylvanian tour (including Peles Castle, Bran Castle and Brasov)…

It was lovely standing outside the Hotel Capitol watching Old Town Bucharest wake up and come to life…  We left reasonably early in the morning for what ended up being just over a 12 hour tour…

One thing I found fascinating was that almost every single house was like a mini-farm.  The Romanians are very self-sufficient and grow, make and produce the majority of what they need.

The gold roof on this building was soooooo incredibly bright and shining!  This photo doesn’t even come close to capturing the brilliance…

I know this photo is blurry, but this little boy was so cute – just standing beside the road waving to passing cars…

…and speaking of standing – they do a lot of that here!  Stand.  …and sit.  As for the standing – I haven’t quite worked that out – but the sitting…  There are seats outside most Romanian houses where the residents just sit – and people will visit and sit – and they chat – they exchange information, gossip, check in on each other – and move to another place to sit.

Life is lovely and slow here…

This building below is a now-defunct vehicle parts manufacturer.

…and now up to a world-class ski resort!

This, below, is Peles Castle.

From Wikipedia:  “Peleș Castle (Romanian: Castelul Peleș pronounced [kasˈtelul ˈpeleʃ] is a Neo-Renaissance castle in the Carpathian Mountains, near Sinaia, in Prahova County, Romania, on an existing medieval route linking Transylvania and Wallachia, built between 1873 and 1914. Its inauguration was held in 1883. It was constructed for King Carol I.

A personal property of the Royal Family from the beginning, Peleș Castle was quickly nationalized after the Communist coup d’etat on December 30th, 1947 that led to the illegal abdication of HM King Michael and his forced exile. After the King’s return in 1997, the castle was returned to the Royal Family after a long judicial case that has been finalised in 2007. However, the King expressed his desire that the castle should continue to shelter the Peleș National Museum, as well as being ocassionally used for public ceremonies organised by the Royal Family.”

The photo below – this is not a bookshelf, but rather a secret passageway…

I am never fond of these signs..!

…and now we enter Brasov to stop for lunch…

Leaving Brasov on our way to Bran Castle – that most people think of as Dracula’s Castle but it actually wasn’t (we will see Drac’s castle in another post on another trip)…

There are a lot of unfinished houses like this one below – but the main reason is not that they have been abandoned.  Rather that Romanians are allowed to build their own homes in their entirety – and many take a few years to complete…  They do the work themselves, with the help of family, neighbours…

…and here we have Bran Castle…

From Wikipedia:  “Bran Castle (Romanian: Castelul Bran; German: Törzburg; Hungarian: Törcsvár), situated near Bran and in the immediate vicinity of Braşov, is a national monument and landmark in Romania. The fortress is situated on the border between Transylvania and Wallachia, on DN73. Commonly known as “Dracula’s Castle” (although it is one among several locations linked to the Dracula legend, including Poenari Castle and Hunyad Castle), it is often erroneously referred to as the home of the title character in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. There is, however, no evidence that Stoker knew anything about this castle, which has only tangential associations with Vlad the Impaler, voivode of Wallachia, the putative inspiration for Dracula. As discovered by the Dutch author Hans Corneel de Roos, the location Bram Stoker actually had in mind for Castle Dracula while writing his novel was an empty mountain top, Mount Izvorul Călimanului, 2,033 metres (6,670 ft) high, located in the Călimani Alps near the former border with Moldavia. Stoker’s description of Dracula’s crumbling fictional castle also bears no resemblance to Bran Castle.”

Important note:  What hardly anyone knows is that just before I left Italy, I was hit by a car!  (Remember the ‘Frogger’ post that broke a bottle of wine?  It was about a week later that I myself was Froggered!).

Anyway, by the time we reached Bran Castle, I just was not up to going walking and exploring anymore so I sat at the bottom with a glass of wine and the following photos are thanks to lovely sisters from Missouri I met on the tour…  They agreed to take my camera and shot the following for me…

…meanwhile, this is where I was curled up…

…and so we leave Bran Castle and head back to Bucharest…

…and I thought it very fitting that I should see this sign just as we arrive home…

~ Bella

 

Farewell Italy, Hello Romania!

Yesterday I left Italy and headed to Romania for the next stop on my “Freedom Life” tour…

(oh, and it was a good thing I flew yesterday as today, Romanian air traffic controllers decided to go on strike to demand better working conditions).

Sitting at Ciampino Airport, it was interesting to see the armed guards patrolling the grounds…  Interesting, also, that there were not as many guards here as there were at Roma Termini each time I was there…

…and this may look like people relaxing in a park somewhere in the city – no, it’s just people waiting to check-in…

I flew with RyanAir and they were lovely – the entire process from check-in to arrival was wonderful.

Arrival at Bucharest…

I saw soooo many wonderful sights in the limo on the way from the airport – will peruse many of them again in the daylight, but this one was worth snapping on my phone as we passed…

…and as I settled in and checked my phone…  Bewitching hour!  🙂

View from my bedroom window…

View from my balcony…

…and funnily enough, I check my phone and it’s the daytime bewitching hour!  LOL!

It’s funny – the apartment itself is lovely – and the outside of the building is lovely – however getting from one to the other, is… well……….

…and I step through those rather ghastly looking doors to this……!

I guess they don’t like frizzy hair in Romania?

All these people (apart from the woman in the white jacket) was standing in line at the patisserie…

I have found my new writing pub while I am here…

…and a bookstore full of Isaac Asimov…  Love it!

Sooooo…….  So far so good!

~ Bella

 

Driving Holiday Along the Amalfi Coast in Italy

What an absolutely fabulous five days we had driving from Lido di Ostia down to Amalfi and Ravello, back up through Positano and Sorrento… (more items now checked off my Bucket List! http://luxuriousnomad.com/bucket-list/)

Our first stop after having picked up a rental car and leaving Ostia was Terracina, an ancient Roman ‘colonia maritima’.

Atop the impressive hill is the equally impressive Temple of Jupiter Anxur.

From there, the following day we drove down to Amalfi… (and the roads do not need elaboration – and yes, they were as ridiculous and squishy as they appear in the photos!)

Oh, and on the wall in the photo below, it says “MURAL NOT FOUND” – someone’s idea of a joke?

Quick stop for lunch…

Then, after two glorious nights in Amalfi, we headed north to Positano (I LOVE Positano!) and Sorrento…

Mount Vesuvius…

Then, for the last night of our trip, staying in the Grand Hotel Vanvitelli, in San Marco Evangelista.

Oh, and why a photo of the map?  Because rather than say “Carlo the third”, it kept saying “Carlo Eye Eye Eye”…  LOL!  It was very funny – ok, perhaps you needed to be there!  LOL!

…and finally back to the Leonardo da Vinci Fiumicino Airport…

 

 

 

Glorious Day Exploring Rome!

Today I decided to go exploring Roma!

First, it was a twenty-minute walk to the train station and what started out as rather a hazy day ended up being brilliant sunshine by the time I reached Rome – just over an hour later.

Actually, my day involved walking, train, walking, train, walking, bus, walking, bus, walking, bus, walking, train, walking, train, walking…  Home!  By the time I reached home the sun was still shining but I was ready for bed!  LOL!

On my way to Lido Centro (the train station here in Lido di Ostia) I passed a permanent children’s fairground – it was wonderful!  Although this is the second time I have passed it – once (today) on a weekday and the other on a weekend, and both times the place was virtually empty…  Just weird abandoned rides playing music and talking…….

I arrived at the station and I knew I needed to go to Piramide Stazione and transfer there to go to Roma Termini…  However, when I arrived at the station not only was there no operating ticket office, the ticket machines were broken!  I managed to find one that was working and discovered that there is not a separate ticket for the journey, but rather a 24 hour ticket that covers all Rome transit!

Sounded good – however the button for the 24 hour ticket was broken!  LOL!  So, I ended up having to buy a 48 hour ticket…

OK – so far so good…  When I reached the platforms, one said it had trains going to Roma and the other to Colombo – so not wanting to venture into a 1970s television drama, I chose the Roma platform.

…and you can tell, I set off reasonably early (even for me!) as on the way home, there was about twenty-plus-times this number of people!

Unlike in Vienna where graffiti is considered an art form, here it is just a menace – but even things that don’t stand still are tagged…

 

So, at this point, I am on the train with my destination being Piramide…  Although if you look carefully at the list of stations, there is no Piramide mentioned!!!

Turns out, going TO Rome, the station is called Porta San Paulo!  Only coming BACK is it called Piramide!

So, we are ensconced on the train and all of a sudden the most glorious Italian voice starts singing, accompanied by a guitar…  After the performance this man (below) picked up his equipment and moved to the next carriage and started all over again…

Arrived in Porta San Paulo (Piramide) and managed to find my way to the other part of the station where the trains head to Rome…

Finally arriving in Roma Termini (A & B line terminus) I set about my Rome adventure…

…and it must be rough being a minibus driver here…

These police looked like they were setting up for a car boot sale!

Have you ever heard the phrase, “vestal virgins”?

Until today, I had never actually considered that vestal virgins were a ‘thing’ (technical word).  See this circus (circle) below?  It is where they used to bury vestal virgins alive…  Why?  Because it was illegal to spill their blood…  Go figure…

I love doors in walls…

Apparently many Italians detest the design of this building, thinking it looks like a wedding cake.  I think it is lovely!

Nothing could have prepared me for the AWEsomeness of the Colesseum!!!

Chariot racing, anyone?

This (below) is reportedly the spot where Nero watched Rome burn…

…and in typical Italian fashion, all the cars below are parked…….

Waterfront property in Rome?

I love all the orange trees lining streets….

…and heavenly!!!  Used book stall after used book stall after used book stall…….!!!

…and of course somewhere to buy your Prado (rather than Prada) wallets…

Finally back to the train station… Changing at Piramide…

…and this is why the station is named as such – although I was going to go and explore however I was chastised VERY sternly by an armed guard that I was not to take photos (he didn’t realize I had already snapped this one) and that I was to be on my way or he would take my camera!

So, on another train…  and the train this time was soooooo unlike the earlier one I didn’t even want to take a photo of the inside.  It was disgusting and smelled horrid… and was sooooooo cramped, it was like being on a NYC subway at rush-hour!

Finally back in Ostia and walking home, I passed a gas station…  (below)

So, now home safe and sound…

Oh, and I thought I would share the roses I bought for myself last night…  Their aroma is magnificent – like roses used to smell…  and I felt like a college student putting them into the only vases I had = empty wine bottles!  🙂

…and just what every girl should have beside her bed – a rose, magnesium oil, massage oil and an Oscar!  🙂

Buonasera!

~ Bella

 

ostia

Ostia Update #2

It is another glorious day (Monday) here in Lido di Ostia!  It is a little overcast, but the sun is shining, it is around 20oC and barely a breeze…

By the way, here is a map giving you an idea of where Ostia is in (the blue dot) relation to Rome – about an hour away.

My first stop was the bank to get some cash.  I had already gone hunting to find an ATM but not being successful, eventually asked Andrea (who owns my apartment) and he advised that there are several, but they are all inside…

I don’t know if you can tell from this photo (there was someone using the ATM and another waiting after me so didn’t want to be too obvious) but to enter a bank here, you not only go through the first door, but you then need to enter through a second secure door…  It feels like airport security!

Anyway, cash procured I decided to go and check out what is reported to be Lido di Ostia’s number one tourist attraction – Pontile di Ostia (or the Ostia Pier)…

It is only a 10 minute walk and on the way saw more ‘interesting’ parking…  LOL!

…and no, neither ASSHOTEL nor Hotel Ping Pong are someone’s idea of a joke… (and ASSHOTEL is the National Association of Hotel Entrepreneurs…)

Stopping for some lunch and a glass of wine, I was amused to watch the man in this Navara SUV reverse into the huge green garbage bin, and push it back about six feet (it was originally near the large pole) to make room for him to park…

It appears they are building many more bathing sheds in time for summer…

…and this is the legendary pier…  Hmmmmmm………….  I am not quite sure what makes it the number one attraction, but ok…

…all the stick-like-things in the distance are masts – the marina is about a 45 minute walk and is on my agenda for another day…

This photo below gives a better indication of how far to the marina…

No, these are not beach towels belonging to a race of giants – they are blankets for sale…

I was fascinated to see so many people fully dressed – many in business attire – reclining on the beach…

…and I am not sure what these two were up to – but it seemed to be a very unorthodox method of boating…

…and alas, Romeo left Juliet to fend for herself…

…and another magnificent sunset…

Well, am now back home again and back to work…

Sending love and smiles from Italy…

~ Bella

I love Ostia!

Welcome to Ostia Update #2…

I have been here just under a week and the more I get to know the place, the more I love it here!

As I write this, it is 20oC, a slight breeze is blowing in from the sea, there is literally not a cloud anywhere in the sky…  The only things visible above are the birds and the white trails of planes off in the distance…

Found my ‘local’

You know I like to have one or two (or three) local watering holes wherever I am that are essentially my ‘Cheers’ (where everybody knows your name).

Thus far, I have found my favourite ‘local’ – as in when I need to have people around me.  It is just at the end of my street and has all the main criteria…

Wifi, wine, comfy tables and chairs at which to work, nice people, good food, reasonably priced… and outdoor seating that is covered.

…and speaking of reasonably priced, whereas the other pizza place I went to on day one was delicious, for the pizza slices (that amounted to probably one more quarter than is in this photo) plus some Coke Zeros came to 21 euro.

Here, these slices (which btw is one slice of one, and one slice of the other – keep forgetting a ‘slice’ is the entire length of the huge pizza! – oh, well, will just take the rest home), plus half a spinach quiche, Coke Zero and a glass of wine…  21 euro!

…and I also love my local butcher – literally just downstairs…  They speak zero English so it is a wonderful opportunity for me to improve my Italian… and right next door to the butcher is my wine shop!

Yesterday I ventured out for a trip to the supermarket that is about a fifteen minute walk away and again, managed the entire shopping excursion using no English!

OK, so don’t get the wrong idea – my command of the Italian language amounts to about ten phrases, but so far I am picking things up reasonably well – and it is making me be ever so much more observant, paying attention to what others do and say…

I love it!

Watching life below…

Standing on the balcony of my penthouse, it is fascinating to just watch the life below…

As you see in this photo, there is a market in the car park – but apart from the shoes (that seem to be there every day) the other stalls change day by day… and on Saturdays, the entire space is FILLED to capacity…

Just one block away is a green grocer…

…and more ‘interesting’ parking…  🙂

…and every single evening, I am treated to a magical display of colours that is literally awe-inspiring…  Every evening!

Well, this little Princess Pixie needs to get back to work…

Will check in again later…

Sending love and smiles to all…

~ Bella xxx

 

First Class Overnight Train from Vienna to Roma

Ostia, here I come!

My wonderful limousine company picked me up from the lovely hotel in which I stayed while in Vienna and deposited me at Wien Hauptbahnhof, more commonly known as Wien HBF – the main train station in Vienna.

…and btw, those of us old enough to know what it means to “spend a penny” will appreciate this…  One needs to exchange money for the convenience, however the penny now needs to be 50 cents!  Talk about inflation!  🙂

Now up to the platform to await my train… along with a gazillion teenagers.

According to Rail Europe, one’s carriage and room is clearly marked…  Me thinks the word “clearly” was lost in translation somewhere as the only indication of which carriage was which were small stickers on the inside window of the carriage doors… (so you can imagine the scrambling over one another that was occurring as everyone was attempting to find their allotaced conveyance) – and once on the correct carriage, my ticket said my room was number 11.  The only problem with that was that there were only eight rooms on the carriage…

Minor technicality I thought – only to have the steward tell me that 11 didn’t really mean 11 – it mean 1.  Of course, I should have known that (not!).

So, now safely curled up in room 11 or 1, we set off…  Auf wiedersehen, Wien!

In my room awaiting me were the newspaper (and a very cute baby giraffe on the cover!)…

…some slippers, a towel, and some goodies…

…coat-hangers…

…and a bottle of Prosecco!

After we were underway for about 20 minutes, the steward came by, took my breakfast order and made up my bed – that I have to say was VERY comfortable!

Once I found where everything was located and settled in, I curled up early and listened to the beginning of “The Shack” audio-book.  One of my clients told me how much she enjoyed the movie and I figure, unless I want to see it in the cinema in Italian, it will be some time before it comes out on-demand – so to the book I went.

Eventually, I turned everything off and curled up to a better-than-expected sleep.  I love trains (particularly steam trains, but I didn’t see any that went between Vienna and Rome so…) and I find something soothing in the sound and rocking…

 

That is, until 1:20AM when the train skidded (literally) to a halt, throwing me into the wall (thankfully I wasn’t facing the other direction or I would have ended up on the ground) and my bags skidding across the floor!

Almost immediately everything went silent – no motors, no sound of air conditioner…  Nothing.

I thought we might have hit a cow or something and as I opened the blind, was expecting to see black nothingness on the other side.

Instead, I saw what looked like some type of maintenance stop.

We were there for about 15 minutes before the motors and air conditioner etc restarted – and then another 5 minutes or so before we again started off…

No idea what happened, but we ended up arriving in Roma 20 minutes late so me thinks this was not a scheduled stop…

Morning breaks and I see out of my window scenes stereotypical of Italy…

…and then – breakfast in bed!

About forty minutes later, we arrive in Rome…

…oh, and I don’t know if you can make them out, but there are beautiful vines all over the building in the background…

Now, this photo below is not what it seems…  It looks like the cars are waiting for that man to cross the road.  HARDLY!!!  Crossing the road here is like playing Frogger!  It just so happens, both vehicles were stopped to let people in/out/whatever…

…and yes, they are automatic weapons they are carrying…

My limo driver and I had a little difficulty finding each other – especially as he spoke very little English and I have yet to get a handle on Italian – but we eventually connected and then off we set for Ostia…

…driving through Rome, there are nuns everywhere!

Founded during ‘my time’ (LOL!), Ostia was established in 1884 next to the remains of Ostia Antica – the original port city of ancient Rome.

This, below, is a shot of where my apartment is – right in the heart of everything and literally 100 meters or so from the sea…

This is the view from the front door of my building – and I feel the bar next door will become one of my favourite spots… second only to my balcony here in the penthouse where I look forward to curling up for hours and writing…

Below is said balcony – currently devoid of furniture as there was a big storm recently so the owner put everything out of harm’s way – that is, after one of the tables literally blew off the roof!

View from my balcony…  It’s not massive, but I like it.

The bathroom has a spa-type feel…

Downstairs, literally around the corner is the local butcher…

This is a shot of the next-door bar from around the corner…

Turns out Saturday is marketS day – that is market plural…  You turn a corner – there is another market.  You walk a few hundred yards – another market!

From what I have seen thus far, Ostia is overall not what I would call a pretty place – it wears its challenges, grime, and litter very openly… but on the other hand, it is extremely vibrant – and there are pockets that are stunningly beautiful.

This is the market to which I am headed next Saturday to do my weekly vegetable shopping!  …and I couldn’t find anywhere near where I was in Vienna that had natural organic massage oil…  Hey presto!  …and my first transaction conducted entirely in Italian (as the stall holders did not speak a word of English).

Now, you might think this Mercedes is driving through the intersection – yes?  No – he is parked.

This little white zot is turning left, yes?  No – he is parked as well.

Perhaps the driver of this yellow thing is sitting there waiting for someone?  No – they are parked just like the ones further up the street.

…and yet another optical illusion that people give way at crossings…  The cars closest to me – parked.  The cars furthest away – parked.  The white on in the middle?  Stopped to let someone out.

…and finally, a lovely restaurant for lunch (even if they do have very uppity staff and are over-priced)… but since they are so close to home and so beautiful, I will probably be back…

Not sure what I ordered (LOL) but I know it was fish (that much I could translate) and it tasted like a cross between tuna and pork – with the consistency of swordfish.  It was delicious – or make that, delizioso!

…and now I am safely back in casa mia…

Wishing you a truly glorious weekend, my Friends!

~ Bella

vienna oldest ferris wheel

Ride the World’s Oldest Surviving Ferris Wheel With Me!

Vintage Ferris Wheel – the highlight of my trip!

You know how I am about history, particularly that which falls into the English Victorian era – so image my delight at discovering this extraordinarily beautiful gem here in Vienna!

Btw, if you would like to read my post about my visit to Vienna, you can find it here:  http://luxuriousnomad.com/vienna-city-of-contrasts/

This Giant Ferris Wheel was built in 1897 and was constructed to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Emperor Francis Joseph I.

Although some of the superstructure and all of the cabins were destroyed by fire and bombs during WWII, the Giant Ferris Wheel was restored and became a symbol of the reconstruction of Vienna.

Oh, and in this innovative billboard, you can see an example of the dinner ‘tours’ they have.

vienna oldest ferris wheel

Entering the exhibition prior to the Wheel itself is like stepping into a magical world………  I cannot begin to express just how much I loved it!

A panorama that goes right around the room – a room that is filled with cabins/carriages containing vintage dioramas with full movement…

I could have just stayed in that room for hours and hours and hour…

This below is a 360o photo I took of the interior…

…and now to the ride itself…

Is it just me, or does that look like a robotic Mr Pumpkinhead?

To your right, you can see the bungy-jumping tower I mentioned in the Vienna post.

…and here is the amazing piece of architectural art of which you saw closeups in the Vienna post…

…a sneak peek inside one of the dining cabins…

I sooooooo do not do heights, but one needs to make an exception for something of such historical significance and absolute beauty…

~ Bella