A village museum, Curtisoara, Romania

by Andrada Costoiu

There are many places that seem out of a fairytale in Romania, and this is just another one that I visited a few days ago. It is a Village Museum, in Romanian language called Muzeul Satului. It is situated in the South-West part of the country, called Oltenia and represents houses that were traditional in this region. A while ago I have visited a similar museum in Bucharest, that is much larger, with houses equally beautiful as the ones in the pictures below.

This museum is the result of a remarkable effort, as houses were moved from their original locations and reassembled on new foundations, according to their original techniques. Some of the houses you find here were built in 1700s! To me, they don’t look so old, because believe or not….houses like this are still inhabited in this part of Romania.

Together with the houses you can also find a fountain and a church ( the property of a former Romanian prime minister, Tatarascu, that was removed from his seat once the communists took over the country). The church is small inside, very cozy, and it features the original furniture. The church’s bell, shown in the picture below, was imported from Italy, and when the guide hit it gently to show us how it sounds, I got a feeling that it resonated through the surrounding hills and villages.

Some houses you can visit inside, others you cannot. The ones open inside display objects that were traditional in the rural life.
The village is beautiful and I will let the pictures speak for themselves, with the mention that the smell of flowers and the fresh air adds to the beauty of this place.

Romanian mountains, Papusa Peak, 7000 ft

I climbed on the mountains today. I found them as I remembered, serene and beautiful ❤️

The peak I reached is called Vârful Păpuşa (Păpuşa peak), a 2,135-metre (7,005 ft) mountain in the Parâng Mountains of Romania.

 To go to the base of the mountain, you have to drive through Transalpina, the road more affectionately known as the ‘King’s Road’ or ‘The Devil’s Pathway’. This is the highest road in Romania, reaching a maximum altitude in the Urdele Pass: 2,145 m. Situated in the Parang Mountains of the Southern Carpathians, the 150 km long road ties Oltenia (historical province in the southern Romania) to Transylvania (central and western Romania) between the towns of Novaci in Gorj County (southern Romania) and Sebes in Alba County (central Romania).

The scenery it’s really beautiful!

The road is only open in the summer, because otherwise it is covered in heavy snow.

My grandma and I, visiting a Romanian monastery

By Andrada Costoiu

I am visiting my family in Romania ❤️

Today I took my grandma , 89, to visit a monastery that was built in the mountains , near the city where my family lives. The position of this historical place is really wonderful, on the spectacular Jiu Valley.
The monastery is called Lainici, and it was built in 1817, on the foundations of an older monastery, dated to the 14th century. 

This is an Orthodox monastery , with only monks. Throughout time, it went through a lot, as the place was destroyed first during the Austro-Hungarian empire in the 18th century, then during the WWI, when the German army destroyed the church, and also the cemetery and the archive.

Whimsical Bellagio Garden

Just wanted to share with you some pictures I took in the Bellagio Garden. The turtle and most decorations are made of flowers 🌸. They change the theme five times a year. This has just been built on May 29th 2021 and it’s the theme for the summer 2021. It’s really beautiful! 14,000-square-foot space built with flowers, trees, and plants!

Shakespeare’s Globe

by Andrada Costoiu

I miss London and I want to share more of my experiences in the city with you.

Last year, walking the Thames River path, near Blackfriars , I saw a white building, with a roof covered in moss. I didn’t really know what to make out of it! Was it a small castle? Was it an arena?
These were the questions that were running through my mind when I noticed that many people were seating on the ground, in a cue, as they were waiting for something. I went and asked ….and it turned out to be a theater. Not just any theater, but Shakespeare’s Globe Theater, which is a reconstruction of the Globe Theatre for which William Shakespeare wrote his plays!  

The original theatre was built in 1599, destroyed by the Great Fire of London in 1613. The theatre was rebuilt in 1614, and then demolished in 1644. This modern Globe Theatre is an academic approximation of the original one, it is considered quite realistic, though it accommodates only 1,400 spectators compared to the original theatre’s 3,000. It was opened to the public in 1997.

I’m a lover of arts, so of course, I wanted in! There were no tickets for that night, but I did buy a ticket for “As you like it,” for the following night.

I had no idea what to expect, but let me tell you this: I have been inside hundreds of cultural landmarks and this one is one of a kind. When I entered, I felt like a portal to another era has opened. Shakespeare’s era!

The theater has an arena where people stand and then there is seating across the arena, in balconies and galleries. All these have benches, wooden benches! I got one of those seats and I’m so happy I got a pillow, because….let’s put it this way, you need a cushion when you’re seating on a wood bench with no back rest for couple of hours…..

The play itself was a transformative, radical experience. Ever seen those movies where they show how old theater was done? Those ones where the audience becomes rowdy and occasionally some unlucky actors get pelted with rotten tomatoes? It’s funny, but it was just like that! The audience, including me, often exploded in ovations and laughs.  But of course, there was no tomatoes or food produce throwing! 
This is me, happy this place where past meets present.

After the play I went to their small library, which is filled with souvenirs and great books. I couldn’t leave without buying some, one book for me and two for each of my kids :).

I think during the pandemic the Globe is closed. They have performances online, but nothing is the same as watching a play inside the venue. I think the pandemic will be over soon, wishful thinking! So…when it opens and if you are around that area, go and experience. You’ll feel as you entered the somewhat more complicated emotional world of Shakespeare.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE

© Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2020- . Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2020 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

My new poetry book “Love poems: insights into the complicated mystery of love” is available on Amazon. You can get it here. Please write a review if you get around it. I would really appreciate it.

From London , with Love

by Andrada Costoiu

I live in memories lately, wishing that I could have my old life back, whisking that I could take a plane to a different part of the world. I’m not tired of mine……but I am bird and I like to fly.
Like most of us though, I think I am now only capable of mind flights…around the world.
So, I am going to share with you few pictures and insights from a trip I took to London, the summer of last year.

London. For any it is the city where they live, where they work, where they go to the grocery store….or the restaurants. For me, it was a wonderful adventure.

Westminster Abbey 

I always wanted to visit this abbey, because of its impressive history. I don’t know what it is like now, it might be closed because of the pandemic, but last summer I learned that if you want to visit the abbey you should buy tickets online:). I remember getting there around 12, and the lines were huge.
The Abbey is beautiful inside, the history floats in the air and is under your feet. I liked it so much that the next day I woke up early and went to the mass. I thought it’s going to be in the church but the sermon was held in the small chapel. Bummer! It was funny, because there was a girl next to me that had angels ears. She kept laughing and seemed a little bewildered. That’s when I lowered my gaze and noticed the priest’s shoes – he had style! I tried not to think about priests’ fashion and concentrate on giving thanks and praying for a better world! I still have these memories….:)

Westminster Church

If you walk few streets from the Abbey, there is another church, Westminster Church. This one is impressive too. Cannot stop but thinking that the church was and is so powerful! They had and have a lot of money to build such impressive buildings. In this church there were many chapels, each with their history. Among other things I was impressed by the body of St John Southworth, a man that was killed in 1535 because of his faith. This made me feel sad, his body looked so small; it was enclosed in a glass shrine. His mummy was fully clothed and had a mask on his face.

Last……this is a random picture I took on the streets of London…..

Everyone should enrich their life with around the world travel…..I think I have complied with that today :).

The Vaults of London

by Andrada Costoiu

I talked about this a while ago, but now I really miss London!

Under Waterloo train station in London, there is a place called the Vaults of London.  While you admire the Graffiti on the entrance, you could easily pass by this place! If it wasn’t for my two London friends, Simon and Lisa, I would have not found this UNUSUAL, INTERESTING and ….one of a kind place!

From outside, you would never imagine the immensity inside. It is a long tunnel, all covered in Graffiti.

I hear that they change the art all the time, as new artists are coming to paint or make other unusual art pieces. 

I kept looking up….I almost stumbled and fell, that’s how mesmerizing it is. 

What’s even more interesting is that the main tunnel opens up into more vaults, each with their specific purpose. They even have theatre underground!

If you’re in London, check out this place! Check out their events, you’ll have a one of a kind experience!

COPYRIGHT NOTICE

© Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2020- . Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2019 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Welcome to the British Museum

by Andrada Costoiu

If you are in London and a history lover, this is a place that you must visit. I went in a summer afternoon and I wish I took the whole day, because the museum is so large and so interesting. I think it’s one of the greatest museums in the world!

Where

Do not expect the museum to be on a big street, it isn’t! Its location is not on a little street either (as it’s Picasso’s museum in Barcelona), but it’s not placed on a big avenue. I used my Google maps to find it.

The address is Great Russell St, Bloomsbury, London WC1B 3DG, United Kingdom.

When you get there, there will be a line. They, of course, do security screenings and your belongings will be scanned as well as you. But the line goes fast, you wont be there for an hour; the wait is nothing like the wait for some Disney rides :).

The museum is open daily 10.00-17.30. Open late on Fridays until 20.30.

The museum is free, but there are some collections that you have to pay for (if you would like to see them!). I suggest purchasing an audio guide (there is a place to rent these, as you get in the big hall).

This picture show part of the big hall, after the entrance

The guide is very useful if you don’t have anybody else to explain the different exhibitions and to give you a tour. I used it not only to learn about the exhibitions, but also to learn about particular objects that interested me. You see, each display case has a number. If you click on your audio guide on that number, it will tell you a lot more than the written explanations on the displays (if any).

A bit of history

The British Museum was established in 1753. It first opened to the public in 1759 on the site of the current building. So yes, it’s that old! In fact, the British Museum is the oldest museum in the world!

The museum started with the collections of the Irish physician and scientist Sir Hans Sloane.   He was a London-based doctor and scientist who married the widow of a wealthy Jamaican planter. He did not wish to see his collection broken up after death, so he bequeathed it to King George II. At that time, Sloane’s collection consisted of around 71,000 objects of all kinds. But since 1753 the collection grew to 8 million objects.

One of the funny facts about the British Museum is that it has been home a lot of cats over the centuries. They say that the most famous guard at the British Museum was a cat :). The cat name was Mike and he patrolled the gate from 1909-1929. When he died, the museum staff mourned him and his obituary was featured in TIME magazine.

The British Museum is popular in the entertainment industry. You might not know but many movie scenes were filmed here. The first movie scene ever shot in the Museum was for The Wakefield Cause, in 1921. Blackmail, by Alfred Hitchcock was also shot here and so were scenes from the Hollywood masterpiece, Day of the Jackal. Most recently, the museum was featured in the movie Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb (2014).

Three of the most popular exhibits at the British Museum are the Oxus Treasure, the Rosetta Stone, and the Elgin Marbles.

What I liked

HM!!! I am going to talk about only what I have seen, because I didn’t get a chance to visit all! 

Rosetta Stone

I stopped in front of the Rosetta Stone for a while and I imagined all these people making the inscriptions. What was it like then? Who were these people? They sure left us something so we can understand them.

The Rosetta Stone has ancient hieroglyphs carved onto it and its discovery was instrumental to the translation of Ancient Egyptian writing. The stone is dating from 196 B.C. .

The Egyptian Galleries, Room 4

This room houses sculptures and artifacts from about 3,000 years of ancient Egyptian civilization. The exhibition is magnificent.  The gallery is located next to the museum’s main entrance.

Room 4 is one of the largest exhibition space and it display only 4% of its Egyptian holdings. That is because it is the place for monumental sculptures…and when I say monumental I really mean it. Everything is gigantic…

This is the colossal statue of Amenhotep III also known as Amenhotep the Magnificent, was the ninth pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty. Look at how small people look in comparison to it…

And this is the head of the same Pharaoh Amenhotep III. This statue is dating from around 1370 BC…

This is a giant bust of Rameses II, also known as Rameses the Great. He is often regarded as the greatest, most celebrated, and most powerful pharaoh of the New Kingdom. This is why his successors called him the “Great Ancestor”.

Standing in front of these statues made me think about these people in real life like. What was it like to be a Pharaoh? What is amazing? : ).

And there are so many other great things in this room…….but I should’t put up more pictures. You just go and see : ).

The Elgin Marbles, the department of Greece and Rome

The Parthenon Marbles, the Elgin Marbles are a collection of medieval, marble Greek Sculptures. These sculptures were brought to Great Britain in the early 1800s by the Earl of Elgin, who acquired them from the Parthenon Temple in Athens. 

These sculptures were part of the Parthenon on the Acropolis of Athens, built between 447 and 438 B.C.

The mummies

This exhibition is extraordinary …..large, many mummies. It is situated on the 4th floor.

I was looking at these mummies and I was thinking what life would have been like along the River Nile several thousand years ago. It does not take an effort of imagination to conjure back the ancient times. People, like today, believed in afterlife and the mummification was an extraordinary funerary tradition of preparing the body for the afterlife. 

They also have the pictures of the CT scans of the inside the mummies’ coffins. 

I was humbled while reaching the mummy of the Gabelein man.  Humbled by being a human, in front of another person that exited so long ago and that now is on display in a museum….

They named this mummy “Ginger”. They said he is called this way because of his….red hair?  He is placed in the fetal position which was the most common form for Egyptian burials of the time. 

What I would do when I will go again

I would map the exhibitions, because I went in blind and not knowing even the floors where certain exhibitions were. This place is massive and it helps knowing where what you’re interested in is located.

I would go there earlier, not late afternoon. You can spend so many hours in the museum…

I would read more in advance about certain pieces. The mummies, the Elgin marbles and the Egypt exhibitions I have seen are so amazing and I would want to know more before I stand in front of these pieces.

And I will go again…..I hope that you will too!

COPYRIGHT NOTICE

© Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2019 . Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2019 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

St Paul’s Cathedral

by Andrada Costoiu

I am reading a book, it’s called “Letters to the lost” by Iona Grey. It’s a beautiful love story, set in London during WW2. As I was reading it, I came across this passage that’s happening in St. Paul’s Cathedral. This sent me back to the time when I was inside it.

I didn’t know about the Whispering Gallery. I wish I knew; I would have climbed up there.

Brief history

St. Paul’s Cathedral is a magic place that goes back in time. I thought this building was the start, but no!! The cathedral building has been destroyed several times and there is so much history behind it! The first on this site was a Roman temple to Diana, but the first Christian cathedral there was dedicated to St. Paul in AD 604. That cathedral burned and its replacement (built 675–685) was destroyed by Viking raiders in 962. 

In 1087 a third cathedral erected on the site also burned! 

The fourth one, now known as Old St. Paul’s, was constructed in the late 11th century. Its spire stood higher than the dome of the present cathedral. In 1561 the spire was destroyed by lightning (and a resulting fire) and never replaced.  Then this building was destroyed in the Great Fire of London (1666), when it was caught in the flames. The lead on the roof melted and poured down on to the street like a river, or so they say. The building collapsed. 

The present cathedral, dating from the late 17th century, was designed by Sir Christopher Wren. It was the first Cathedral to be built after the English Reformation in the sixteenth-century, when Henry VIII removed the Church of England from the jurisdiction of the Pope! 
It has survived the WW2 Blitz as it is (with repairs) .  What was the Blitz? It was the German bombing campaign against the UK, in 1940 and 1941. Not only London, but also provincial UK was bombed.  Much of London was lost, including many iconic buildings. St. Paul’s survived probably through a miracle (or maybe because it was protected somehow). Below it’s a picture after the bombings, with St. Paul’s towering over the ruble of London.  Since then, this building had become associated with the British resilience.

Who was Christopher Wren and how did he came to build St. Paul’s

After the year of the Great Plague in 1665, The Great Fire of London came! The fire happened in 1666 destroyed many of the city’s public buildings, including 88 of its churches. 

Christopher Wren was commissioned to build 51 replacement churches, and that included St Paul’s cathedral. Although Wren was personally responsible for all these, probably not all of them represent his own fully developed design.  Only a few are in Wren’s hand, including St. Paul’s. 

Wren was many things, not only an architect.  He was a scientist and he was one of the founders of the Royal Society (president 1680–82), the oldest scientific society in the world! His work was highly regarded by Isaac Newton and Blaise Pascal.

The architecture 

The cathedralis heavily influenced by St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The construction of the cathedral took more than 40 years. In 1708, Wren’s son, Christopher Wren Jr, placed the final stone on the lantern, watched by his father below.

I think the most notable feature is the dome. The dome framed by the spires of Wren’s City churches, has dominated London’s skyline for over 300 years. It is still among the highest in the world.

Internally, the church is beautiful ,with impressive arches and naves.

There are famous people buried here.  

The first person to be buried in St. Paul’s Cathedralwas its creator. Christopher Wren died in 1723. His tomb is on the south aisle in the east of the crypt.

The crypt of St Paul’s Cathedral is the largest in Europe. The largest memorial on the cathedral floor belongs to the Duke of Wellington. His memorial took longer to build than the whole cathedral!!! 

Here you will also find the tombs of Lord Nelson, Florence Nightingale, William Blake, Lawrence of Arabia and many others.

Sunday mass, under the Dome

Picture snapped by my friend while going to the mass

I went to St. Paul’s Cathedral on a Sunday morning, with my friends. We were there for the mass, and it was wonderful.

I don’t like sermons that much, I don’t like when people tell other people what to do or not do. But I like when people learn from each other and I also like when people stand together, united in good thoughts.

Probably that’s why I felt overwhelmed, when the chorus and then everybody started to sing. Under the dome, our voices together sounded powerful, uplifting and hopeful. I think that is the definition of being human.

Together we stand, together we can do great things, each of us doing our own bit.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE

© Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2019 . Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2019 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.