From Emotion to Meaning and Return. A Cultural Trip Through Oltenia

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The growling of what sounded like a bear made me stop and listen carefully for a few seconds. I looked around me. The forest was young, there wasn’t any chance a tree would have been able to withstand my weight. My next thought was that bears can climb trees and I can’t, so the age of the forest didn’t really matter.

I felt my heart rate going up, the blood going faster through my veins, my knees becoming softer and softer and my stomach filling up with butterflies. I acknowledged fear.

There was this fantastic pool party with wine flowing freely from bottles down the throats, barely stopping for a rest in its way up to the brains. I was dancing with this gorgeous guy, eyes closed, bodies touching, wobbling on slow blues rhythms. Everything else disappeared into this blissful mindfulness eternity. Out of the blue, my hands started a dance of their own on that smooth, warm, inviting skin they were resting on for a while now. They moved with the music, reached imaginary destinations only to to start their slow journey again… and again… until his soft voice whispered in my ear… stop, or it will be too late…
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No Rhododendrons on the Ciucas Mountain

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I was much too tired to remember why I went up there in the first place. The wind through my hair and through my wet clothes was fabulous, a true catalyst for forgetting. For a moment, I had no past. I was only eyes and skin, kissed by wind and sun together. I even forgot that my jeans were full of mud since my feet decided to go faster and left me behind in one of the biggest mud puddles on the path. No, I don’t have photos of that moment, in case you were wondering :)

Then I saw three little purple flowers at the edge of the path and my memory came back: I went there to see the rhododendrons. All three of them!!!
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Ciucas Mountains, Romania

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Ciucas Mountains Romania

HDR photo of the Ciucas Mountains in Romania. Can you believe I used a point-and-shoot camera and a free computer software to get this? I took the photo yesterday, during an awesome trip which I’m going to tell you about soon. Stay tuned, enter your email address in the yellow box below and you’ll get my new article right in your inbox. Later update: Here’s the story of my trip on the Ciucas mountains with photos

Saklikent Gorge, The Place Where Time Stops

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Out of all places I’ve been to, two of them have the magic power to stop the time. One is Mount Olympus in Greece. The other one is Saklikent Gorge in Turkey. These places have a strange power to bring happiness and peace in your soul. For the entire time you are there, you feel like living an eternal moment. Past and future simply disappear. Everything is “now”: pebbles, water, butterflies, lizards, my otherwise restless mind, all beings and non-beings altogether lose their identities to merge into the moment.

The Saklikent Gorge experience consists of walking through a river. The gorge is 20 km long, the longest in Turkey and the second-longest in Europe. Only about 4km of it are walkable. Quite enough, I must say, as it takes almost two hours to do it, then another hour to return. There are tours you can book in either Kas, Fethiye, Oludeniz, Kayakoy or other neighboring towns. I don’t know how much they cost, because we had our own car. Tours are good, however, if you don’t have a car or you can’t be bothered driving. Just get used to the idea that on your way back you’ll most probably stop at some carpet factory. Tour operators have deals to supply such outlets batches of fresh tourists with wallets ready to open to the art of persuasion Turkish people seem to be masters of.

Saklikent Gorge, Turkey - People walking through the cold, running water

Saklikent Gorge, Turkey – People walking through the cold, running water

Saklikent is about 40 minutes’ drive from Fethiye and one hour from Oludeniz. It makes an awesome one day trip. You don’t need to bring food with you, because there are heaps of restaurants built over the river at the gorge entrance. They serve fresh fish, cold drinks, Turkish coffee and who knows what. Turkish beer is good, I recommend you try it.

If you have rubber shoes, take them, because you’ll walk through water for several hours. Flip flops are not so suitable, because the water runs fast and there are a few places where it is quite deep. Not as deep as to fear drowning, but it would reach your thighs. We’ve encountered some solitary flip flops on our way, this is how I know it’s a bad idea. Anyway, it’s not a big deal, you can buy or hire rubber shoes there, in case you forget. Remember to wear sunscreen and a hat, though, as you’ll be walking in full sun for most part of the time.

Spectacular landscape in Saklikent Gorge

Spectacular landscape in Saklikent Gorge

Narrow passage in Saklikent Gorge

Narrow passage in Saklikent Gorge. The huge rocks on the river banks are almost touching each other

A little rest in the shadow - Saklikent Gorge

A little rest in the shadow – walking through water can be tiresome

Saklikent Gorge - end of walk (for me)

Saklikent Gorge – end of walk (for me). There were a few people, though, who escalated the waterfall.

I’ve been to Saklikent Gorge in mid-June and the water was very cold. However, after the first shock, my feet got used to it. It soon became a nice refreshment to counteract the heat coming from the sun above. It seems that cold water, hot weather and walking on rocks make a great recipe for bringing your mind to peace. For the whole walk, I lived only in the now. I was 100% there, focused on the walk. Everything else vanished. The following quote describes best that moment’s feeling:

“Four snakes gliding up and down a hollow for no purpose that I could see — not to eat, not for love, but only gliding.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

There was no purpose to my walking up the river. I was only gliding. And at the end of the day, I only got half-wet :)

Wet Violeta with her blue rubber shoes

Wet Violeta with her blue rubber shoes

Did you ever experience fully living in the present moment? When was it? Let’s talk!

Why Bigger Isn’t Always Better For Casinos

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Some of the largest casinos in the world may surpass the competition in square footage, but does what’s inside really live up hype from their exterior? They might be well-known across the world for their size, but some offer a selective experience. Luxurious resorts aren’t created equal. Depending on what you’re looking to do, they could make your vacation the best you ever had, or leave you disappointed.

Marina Bay Sands Casino

Marina Bay Sands Casino


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