Mici Mici Mici Mici

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The secret ingredient is Ciucas beer poured over the meat while it’s on the grill

Happy 1 Mici…I mean, 1 Mai, everybody!

The first of May is a special holiday in Romania. It’s labor day, which means almost everything is closed and almost everybody gets the whole day to chill!

Appropriate trips or activities for this day include: going to the seaside, going to the mountains, or getting out into the countryside.

But above all, you must grill mici.

From this Romania Insider article:

“The…peak [of Mici sales] is recorded in the May 1 mini-break, when the Romanians eat more than 30 million mici in 2-3 days, representing 1,500 tons.”

1,500 tons of mici.

For the uninitiated, the word mici means “littles” in Romanian, so mici are (little) sausages of minced meat. This can lead to some jokes, such as the one McDonald’s made a year or so ago in this commercial:

You can see, mici are more than a little popular (ha). You can find them everywhere – some places make them not-so-mici and they end up looking more like hamburger sticks. Any way you get them, you can dip them in some muștar (mustard) and they’re pretty tasty. I didn’t like them at first, but they’ve grown on me a bit.

So I hope everyone enjoyed their day of rest. We had beautiful weather in Brasov and celebrated with a backyard grill and sitting in the sun. Everything is so green here. It smells amazing.

Bonus picture of the mici magician, whose favorite trick is making mici disappear:

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“Abra-ca-DABRAchompGHGHHHgulp lick lick lick”

Spring Comes for Leo

We have finally had some consistent spring weather. It seemed like for one week Mother Nature couldn’t make up her mind – I wore sandals and short sleeves on Thursday and then on Sunday we had a freak snowstorm…

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The view from our balcony…

…and now the sun and sky and everything is majestic again. I wore actual sunscreen on Saturday because the sun was so intense.

I completed the martișor ritual by tying my bracelet onto a flowering tree. I hope that the tree I picked was flowering enough because I could use the luck 🙂

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Clau and I went to Decathalon (for you USA people, Decathalon is like if REI was cheap lol) in search of some fun spring things. I had in mind to buy a scooter. I see these things everywhere and not just kids using them. I’m not quite brave enough to ride a bike in this town, so I thought a scooter would be the next best thing. However, I was really shocked at how much they cost. A decent adult scooter costs just as much as a bicycle, which means that I did not buy a scooter. Skateboards were also not an option because I am interested in having unbroken ankles.

So, I stuck with what I know (and can afford) and I bought some skates. They’re not like my roller derby skates (quad wheels), but I think I can learn on these pretty quickly. I mean, the physics can’t be that different, right? We’ll see 🙂

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Watch out, Brasov – no, really, watch out. I don’t know how to stop yet.

I spent some time trying to figure out which parks you can skate in – there’s one over in Tractorul that appears to allow wheeled contraptions in, but I’m not sure. The park in front of Aro Palace definitely does not, but you can skate around it 🙂 #loopholes

Springtime for Leo

We don’t need the weather forecast to tell if it’s spring because the Romanian Grill Index (RGI) is a much better indicator. If you step outside and the smell of grilling mici wafts up to your nose, then you know it’s OFFICIAL. Bonus if you can also hear manele.

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Mici!

Manele! (I am not a fan. Really.)

What’s my favorite F-list celebrity(?) been up to lately?

Well, it seems Leo hasn’t been doing too much else these days. Mostly lots of TV appearances with usual crew and the usual things: ex-girlfriends, ex-wives, and lots of money raining down on everyone. Not so many pictures of him with dogs, which makes me wonder if he’s doing okay.

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Leo approves of this keyboard.

This picture is very reassuring.

Of course, he’s been participating in one of life’s finer pleasures: The Grill.

 

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Car dancing!

I’ve never been invited to one of Leo’s grills, but it looks very fancy and fun.

 

Balea Lac and the Ice Hotel

I wish I could say that I’ve been super busy and too distracted to post lately, but the truth is that I’ve had a lot of free time. I’m feeling pretty relaxed. Instead, however, of devoting this energy to constructive projects (like this blog), I’ve simply given up and become a human burrito.

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You see, it’s very cold here. Obviously from my last post (about the blizzard), we’re having an actual winter. I’m adjusting (? maybe?) but the truth is that being outside in the cold basically sucks a lot of your ambition out of you and you end up snuggled in your jammies watching Netflix. I’ve watched some very good TV lately. I watched The Crown, Poldark, Rebellion, and Vikings.

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But every now and then we get an urge to go do something, and after the new year we decided to drive to the Fagaras Mountains and take the telecabina to Balea Lac. In the summer, you might actually be able to drive up to Balea Lac, if the Transfagarasan is open, but right now it’s under about ten feet of snow.

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The Ice Hotel was our main motivation for making the trek up the hill, and it did not disappoint. We just visited, and I’m glad. I wouldn’t recommend actually sleeping there because the beds were very…firm. Everything, including the floors, is made out of ice. If you’re more of the Yeti/Sasquatch “love the cold” type, this is probably the hotel for you.

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Trying to find a comfortable way to sit on the ice bed

Each room is decorated in a different theme, and they carve figures out of the walls. I think this year’s theme for the whole hotel was Hollywood. They had Darth Vader, the Gladiator, a dinosaur, and an Orc. Also, Mihai Viteazu and Jesus. Because this is an ice hotel in Romania, after all.

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Jesus, dinosaur, Mihai V., and an Orc

We toured the hotel and watched the men use chainsaws to cut the ice blocks out of the lake. The blocks were this absolutely gorgeous color of blue. They looked like sea glass. The men used snow mobiles to drag the ice blocks over to the construction site. On this day, they were building an ice church.

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I think we spent about an hour on top of the mountain. We were lucky because when we got there we had good visibility and we could see the view from the cliffs down to the valley. At some point, it became very cloudy and started to snow, so visibility was basically nil. We decided to leave at that point, mostly because we were becoming ice blocks ourselves.

Here is a short video with some more moments from the Balea Lac and the Ice Hotel.

 

A Drive in the Snow

We’ve had a lot of snow lately in Brasov, and it is very beautiful. I’m so glad that if it’s going to be cold, at least we get something beautiful in exchange! And because you already know me so well, you probably already guessed that I dragged Claudiu out in the cold to drive me to Poiana Brasov. It was a short trip (all we did was eat some soup at a restaurant up there), and when we left it started snowing very heavily. I think it took it something like 30 minutes to drive 12 km. I took some video of our drive to and from Poiana Brasov, so please enjoy:

SNOW DAY

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View from Poiana Brasov overlook – normally you can see all of Brasov from here

The best thing in the world happened last Sunday. It snowed. If you know me, you know I am a literal child when it comes to snow. I grew up in Georgia, where it is hot and humid, and if we got snow it was a freaking miracle.

Here is basically my year round snow fantasy:

I had hoped (and still do) that it was going to snow SO MUCH in Romania this winter because last year there wasn’t very much. One of the best ski resorts in the whole country is located about 12 km away and dang it, I want to ski. Or learn to ski. All I know is how to pizza.pizza-french-fry

So…I was actually sad originally when I saw that the forecast said snow. It wasn’t the first time this fall that we’ve had a snow forecast and lo, and behold – nothing. So I was not convinced that we were going to get any snow. In fact, I was convinced that it would never, ever snow. I went to bed Saturday night with a bad attitude and some harsh words for the Digi news team and the “Cod Galben” (Yellow Code: a weather alert) that we were under.

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When I woke up Sunday, the first thing I did was roll out of bed to the window and with a sigh of relief, saw that there was snow on the grass and cars. AHHHH – finally.

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dance of snow relief

The news had said it was going to snow the whole day, so we were in no rush to get out of warm bed.

We made plans to take Louis to Poiana Brasov and to try out our butt shovel sleds. So we rolled out of bed and began the long process of layering our clothing (I am fond of the winter “hobo-chic” look you have to acquire to stay warm).

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Louis wearing his winter best!

We finally somehow made it out of the door. I was mesmerized by all the pretty white flakes. Somehow our car got de-iced?! Magic!! (Sorry, Clau :P)

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On the way to Poiana Brasov, we saw a car slide out and kill a bench on one of the overlooks. I feel like I see at least one car accident every day, and my reaction is always the same. I just yell, “SHIT” – like, really loudly, every time. No one else seems to care about witnessing all these accidents. I guess it’s par for the course here? Anyway, because it was an overlook I was sure they were going to go over the edge, but thankfully their car stopped sliding.

The roads were just as icy and dangerous, even though they had been plowed earlier. The snow just kept falling and falling 😀

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That’s -6 C (21 degrees F)

Poiana Brasov was at least ten degrees colder than Brasov and the snow was covering the trees – especially the evergreens – it just made everything look so peaceful and still. We got out of the car and walked to the bunny slope, I think it’s called Bradul (Brad = Christmas Tree; Bradul = the Christmas Tree). You can see where it is on the map, to the lower left.

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Lots of kids were out with their cool sleds, but we had something so much better. Butt shovel sleds. I was so happy we didn’t have to slide on a bag anymore. Coincidentally, my co-workers were telling me that they still don’t have sleds, and that they slide with a bag. Bags are very useful here. Amazing.

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Claudiu (holding a butt shovel) and Louis pose near the Bradul slope

 

Anyway, the butt shovels were amazing and fast. One time I got Louis on my lap and went down the hill with him and he tried to run the whole way. It was hilarious. I guess it’s like when you hold a dog over water? They just naturally move their legs like they’re swimming. That’s what he did, except this was more like air running.

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Louis decides which hill to ski next

Overall, the snow day was great. We had a blast. I think  Louis enjoyed himself.

I present to you: Louis’s Snow Day. Thanks, Google Photos!

We are eventually going to get him a nice dog parka so he can stay outside longer. It took him about twenty minutes to become a fully formed snowball. When we got back in the car, I wrapped him up like a dog burrito so he could melt and warm up. Once he was dry, I put him back in the sweater – and then he was so sleepy for the rest of the day. So cute, my little dog snowball.

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I made Claudiu stay very still for this picture – look at the perfect snowflake on his hat! 

Night time came and it continued to snow. Here’s a picture of our sleepy street – totally frozen. Thankfully, the temperatures stayed around freezing for a few days, so we got to enjoy the snow for a while. Now it’s all melted, but I have so much happiness in my heart that it finally snowed!

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