luni, 28 ianuarie 2013

And It Was Weekend

From Friday to Monday, I don't know when time flies, is like a carousel we are not allowed to take off.  

Last Saturday, we celebrated Mara's birthday at Happy Planet: a big indoor playground she chose only few days ago. I had reservation in a different place, but she told me she would like again a playground. It was better for me, because I didn't have to take care of almost anything. I felt somehow sorry, because I wanted a themed party, and I was prepared with lots of butterflies and craft ideas. But, as I said, I needed only to take care of our guests.

There were lots of children, lots of parents, beautiful gifts, an amazing cake from Cookie Jar. She even had a pinata, filled with candies and small gifts for everybody.

In the evening, she told us what her wish came true. I tried to make her unveil her desires, and finally I succeeded. 
Her wish was to have plenty of surprises at her birthday, and so it was!
The best surprise of all: Mara's teacher attended the party, and she's sleeping with the present since: a sweet and beautiful pink doll.


vineri, 25 ianuarie 2013

Happy Birthday, Mara!

Seven years.

Seven years ago, from all the possible parents on this earth, 
you chose me to be your Mummy.

Happy Birthday, my sweet Mara!

Thank you, Bogdan, for such a wonderful child!

marți, 15 ianuarie 2013

Quinta da Regaleira, Sintra, Portugal

I like meeting new people. After the first awkward moments, if you are both open, the communication begins and the words start to pour from your mouths and souls easily. 
When in Lola's house, we met lots of beautiful people, and even we didn't know each other's language, we found ourselves somehow connected.
This is how we found out that near Sintra, a place we already visited twice, there is an even more beautiful place named Quinta de la Regaleira.
The next day we headed straight there.

Along with other palaces in this area (such as the Pena, Monserrat and Seteais palaces), it is one of the main tourist attractions of Sintra. I really don't know how we didn't discover it before. It is classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO within the "Cultural Landscape of Sintra". 

Quinta da Regaleira consists of a romantic palace and chapel, and a huge and luxurious park featuring lakes, grottoes, wells, benches, fountains, and a vast array of exquisite constructions. The palace is also known as "Palace of Monteiro the Millionaire", from the nickname of its first owner, António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro.

The land that is now Quinta da Regaleira had many owners through time. But in 1892 it belonged to the Barons of Regaleira, a family of rich merchants from Porto, when it was purchased that year by Carvalho Monteiro for 25,000 réis. Monteiro wished to build a bewildering place where he could gather symbols that would reflect his interests and ideologies.

With the assistance of the Italian architect Luigi Manini, he designed the 4-hectare estate with its enigmatic buildings, believed to hide symbols related to alchemy, Masonry, the Knights Templar, and the Rosicrucians.

The architecture of the estate evokes Roman, Gothic, Renaissance and Manueline architectural styles. The construction of the current estate commenced in 1904 and most of it was concluded by 1910. Starting from 1997 it belongs to Sintra Town Hall.

Inside the main building, there is an amazing library, with a mirrored floor. The feeling of falling was so deep, we couldn't enter the room in the first place.

The park contains an extensive and enigmatic system of tunnels, which have multiple accesses including the grottoes, the chapel, the Waterfall Lake, and the "Leda's Cave" beneath the Regaleira Tower. 

Their symbolism has been interpreted as a trip between darkness and light, death and resurrection.

The "Initiation Well" or "Initiatic Well" (sometimes referred to as the "Inverted Tower") is a 27 meter staircase that leads straight down underground and connects with other tunnels via underground walkways.

A little drama can't hurt anyone...

The Regaleira Chapel is a Roman Catholic Chapel stands in front of the palace's main façade. Its architecture is akin to the palace's. The interior of this Roman Catholic temple is richly decorated with frescoes, stained glass windows and lavish stuccoes. 
On the frescoes are represented Teresa of Ávila and Saint Anthony, as well as other religious depictions. The floor contains representations of the armillary sphere of the Portuguese discoveries and the Order of Christ Cross, surrounded by pentagrams. Despite its size, the chapel has several floors. We've been surprised to see that we can mount from the garden straight in the Chapel through some basement stairs. Weird.

Most of the four hectares of land in the estate consist of a densely treed park crossed by myriad roads and footpaths. The woods are neatly arranged in the lower parts of the estate, but left wild and disorganized in the upper parts, reflecting Carvalho Monteiro's belief in primitivism.

As for me, I think is one of the most beautiful places I ever seen, and I think I'll visit it again if I'll go back to Portugal.

duminică, 13 ianuarie 2013

Go! Just Go!

I don't know how it comes, but when it comes to travel, we don't need to think twice. On Friday afternoon, we took Radu and Mara and we stopped in Predeal, near Runa's camp. In the morning, when she heard we'll come there, she told us not to visit her, the parents shouldn't be allowed in camps. Uh, she's already THAT BIG???

 We spent a great weekend, Radu and Mara started skying, Bogdan took some beautiful pictures on the top of the mountains, today we were sledging for an hour, then we came back home.  

 I think we should take them in the mountains more often, we found this beautiful accommodation minutes away of the sky slopes from Clăbucet, so we should be there at least once every winter month.

Mara asked when the plane will come. We reminded her we went by car. 
"Oh, I forgot...!", she replied.

Mara is skying like a little mimosa, her own style, but making progresses at every descent. She realized there is no escape from learning to sky this year, so she finally accepted the idea. 

Radu was very enthusiastic from the beginning, insisting on skying alone, but he has no idea how to stop or turn. The monitor is teaching him, but he forgets, fortunately he's all instinct, so when he starts to get some speed, his feet know how to react by themselves. But at the first lesson he was just like a living undermine: speed and determination. 

So, one of my year's resolutions is in progress: Radu and Mara started the skying lessons. Perhaps in the next winter they will join Runa in the winter camp, having fun together!