LAZAROW WORLD HIKE-ABOUT
New Zealand 2017: Tongariro Crossing and Mount Ngauruhoe.
'LAZAROW WORLD HIKE-ABOUT: WHAT IN THE WORLD IS HIKE-ABOUT?'
Hike-about is an adventure that commenced June 2010. After storing our household movables, ridding ourselves of a house but retaining our 'home' together, we set off with the purpose of hiking in different parts of the world, not forgetting the home country, the USA.
Our primary focus is hiking to mountain peaks but any challenging hike will do just fine. Extended stays enable us to enjoy and experience living in various places amongst differing cultures. Hike-about has evolved into a way of life. It's also a process of discovery, both the world and ourselves.
We work and live 'on the road' but return to the city in which our grandchildren reside, every couple of months. This provides us the wonderful opportunity to be with them as well as a child or two, even three and of course, friends.
By the end of 2022, the blog contained over 1,470 hikes, each a set of pictures with stories and anecdotes from the trails. An index to the right allows the viewer to identify earlier experiences.
Finally, we are often asked about the journey's end. Our reply, as accurate as we can state, is: "When we are either forced to cease through health issues or the enjoyment level no longer reaches our aspirations, we will hang up the boots."
"A Life Experience As No Other: Dare to Seize the Day Together", published by Fulton Books, depicts our life on the road and mountains until the beginning of 2017. It has developed 'exponentially' since then.
Jenni and Jeffrey Lazarow
Whereas we continue to update the blog regularly, we no longer circulate email notifications often.
Thursday, September 27, 2018
37.09 Romania: Fagaras Mountains: The Watering Ho(te)le while we were captivated by the mountains, lake and positioning.
Reaching the waterfall from the forest and then onto the glacial valley.
A different perspective of Balea Lake, the other side.
One of the benefits of international travel, particularly when staying outside cities, is the quality and variety of people one comes across. This can be broken down into two categories: Those we meet on trails and others in the suburbs, particularly guesthouses and places that have communal dining rooms and kitchens or outside lounging areas. We meet locals who are on holiday and internationals who are usually hiking and exploring. Perhaps it’s the common interest or, similarity in pursuing goals and activities but generally, we are blessed to meet so many people who are considerate, interesting, some stimulating, and who provide us with differing viewpoints and attitudes to life while we all ignore the noise of the political classes and the fallout that follows.
In each country, one finds different approaches to tasks and aspects of life. Initially, it's easy to criticize a method that differs from one’s own, particularly when one has used such style together with the majority of fellow citizens or at least those in one’s city. At times, it is easy to wonder why people choose a way of life or method of approach to an aspect of life. However, when one understands the thinking behind the idea, one often questions one’s own ideas or, at least sees the logic and sometimes, the advantages of such differing course of action. Of course, we are focusing on issues, approaches and styles rather than values, when we make our comments. It is sad to realize, actually tragic, that so much prejudice exists in the world, much of it because of ignorance and worse, deliberate inculcation.
Just over the past few weeks, we met a number of former Romanians visiting their country of birth. In an earlier missive, we mentioned some of our discussions we enjoyed regarding the former socialist republics of Eastern Europe and Romania, in particular. Israelis have been aplenty and surprisingly, we’ve come across a lot less Germans than we normally do. Meeting a fellow South African in a synagogue was a coincidence and pleasant surprise.
We met Mark from England and his partner, Vaida, from Lithuania. We spent time conversing with them for a couple of hours and on the following day, gave them a ride to the trailhead where they decided to join us on the same trail. The conversations continued as we hiked up to the cabana as well as when we returned from our different trails, later.
We mentioned Sergi and Lluis, the wonderful, young Spanish men we met in the kitchen at a great location and the delightful hours we spent together over the next period.
During a big hike on the Bucegi Range, a great place indeed, we came across Val and Val. How were we to distinguish between the two hikers when they shared the same names? Thankfully, Jenni had the solution. One was a woman, the other a man. Valentino is one of those guys I can't help taking an instant liking of despite him wondering why I was an African and not black. He and Valerie, Romanians, now live in London. It seems there's common ground amongst South Africans and the locals—many of us live somewhere else. Val gave us a couple of insights of Romania as well as what it's like working on girders 51 floors high in London. I think our tricky climbs are much easier.
It should be said that we don’t go out of our way to meet people as we like privacy and our own company although we love, at least, encounters and discussions. Nevertheless, after meeting lovely people, one departs feeling fulfilled, better informed and uplifted. It is also a reminder that in a world that at times seems ‘upside-down', decent people come along and restore one’s faith in humanity. Simple connections have an enormous power.
A view as we crest the mountain and gaze at the glacial valley with the hotel up ahead on the next mountain.
A view elsewhere, Bucegi Massif: Hence, a justification for our statement of equally or better hikes than at what we thought was our favorite place. Who's mixed up?
Not a 'zebra' crossing but shepherd and dogs took the mob across the road.
Storm following us from the valley below.
Clouds parting to reveal a mountain wall.
Balea Cascades viewed from height.
Jenni and Jeffrey
I was caught pinching an overhanging apple, Eve. The kind owner of the property came running, summoned us and bestowed upon us another dozen apples. Who says 'crime' doesn't pay?
Some photographs filed at the end for an extra peek for 'guess who'?
What I term 'a cartographer's edge of a continent' as we look down on the 'island'.
We've seen a few males, in one crises or another, racing their sporty, convertibles up-and-down this 'track', recklessly.
Returning from a peak, arriving on the ridge and finding the clouds dissipating.
Sunday, September 23, 2018
37.08 Romania: High Holy Days at high altitudes, at least 3,000 feet elevation gain, above towns and cities and, favorite places.
We obviously love the outdoors, the wilds and living close to nature. City life is wonderful for many but not us. So as a compromise, all of the pictures are from high positions, mostly above 3,000 feet of accumulated gain, while some of the scenes are of towns and cities. A nice compromise, if you will.
Jenni nears a peak after scaling the crags at Craiului Mountain Park.
Somewhere on the Bucegi Mountains, early autumn.
Spectacular park, Bucegi Massif.
Reaching the peak, Vanatarea, in thick mist, Fagaras Mountains.
We thought of sharing some insights from our budding trip in Eastern Europe, our second this year in the region. It's also our second autumn of the year, a favorite season of ours, the first being Argentina during March/April. We never travelled much during this time of the year in earlier periods because of the High Holy Days. A few years back we visited South Africa for the holy days, two years ago Greece, and last year Johannesburg and Cape Town again and currently Brasov, Romania. After sixty years of following the same format, it dawned upon us that should we experience different environments, cultures and adventures throughout the world as a matter of choice, why limit ourselves during these 'religious periods'? After all, having determined a further purpose of our lives at this latish juncture, why impose additional limits? We know how controlling all levels of governments, societies, religions, political affiliations, communities, clubs, not forgetting our self-imposed obstacles, are, that the quest for liberation is an ongoing struggle, an endeavor but one of the great desires of some, including ourselves. The experiences in different countries during these festivals have become enlightening and stimulating and may we say, most enjoyable. In Athens and Thessaloniki, we probably enjoyed one of our best periods. To meet different nationals, sometimes as many as from a dozen countries, coming together to share a festival, each bringing something to contribute from their homeland is truly memorable. Add in the different slants, styles and interpretations of the host country and it makes for a great learning opportunity and actually, entertaining and fascinating, if we may be so bold...(continues at end).
After dropping down, still high above the town of Busteni.
This is only 1,400 feet but the density is remarkable (if you like that sort of thing), in Brasov.
After walking from the bottom cable station...above Lake Balea.
From peak of Mount Postavarul at Poiana Brasov.
Waiting for a summons from a peak in Craiului Mountains.
About to peak at Bucegi National Park.
Domogled National Park.
A look from the other side and above Balea Lake in the Fagaras Mountains.
Jen made a reservation for dinner at the main synagogue soon after we booked our flight to Serbia en route to Brasov. The synagogue, Beit Israel, is 112 years old, the community, add another hundred. It has probably witnessed many joyous occasions and far too many tragedies over its life, events that continue to shock us. With a dwindling population, perhaps a less observant young community, the synagogue was effectively empty for one of the holiest days of the year. In fact, without visitors, mostly Israelis, obtaining a minyan (a quorum) might have been in doubt. What was a climactic moment for me as is always, was the opening chant for the evening commencement. I have not frequented synagogue (shul) over the last few years as much as before but I stood in a foreign land, in a different synagogue and heard "La-li-la-li-la...and my eyes welled with tears and I felt transported to a different sphere as happens each year. I'm always delivered to a time as a young boy being next to my Dad. The beauty is it does not matter where in the world one is because after all, don't we all belong? Why should we not carry those feelings where ever we stand?
After services, before heading to the meal, I stopped two Israelis to greet and with whom to chat. We have seen the largest number of Israelis in Romania compared with any other place outside Israel. After a while, the fellow who had sat next to me returned and asked whether he was hearing a South African accent? Turns out he is from Port Elizabeth and Cape Town, lives in Canada, and has a female partner from Romania who fled before the "wall came down". We met her, too. Fascinating! Jonathan Marcus is the name of this young looking contemporary who knows Jeff Dorfman, famous because he married my dear cousin, Bernice nee Segell.
At the meal, we sat amongst a large group of Israelis, (surprise) one family being former Romanians. Suffice to say, we loved the dinner, the atmosphere, singing and conversation but not the food—work that one out.
In shul the next day, many of the Jewish visitors had moved on leaving the lovely building empty but for a handful of us. The service moved along efficiently which was nice. Interestingly enough, the area has a large number of tourists. We'd guess that the synagogue probably has to allow tourists some form of access. It's the first time we've been in services having tourists snapping pictures of us while they walked about although remaining toward the entrance at the back for the most part. By the time Atonement Day (Yom Kippur) arrived ten days later, we were more aware of the 'intruders' but noticed one or two having very little inhibitions in studying the interior while services were in full stride. Sure was a different feeling than ever before.
Should we ever stand out in synagogue it's not that we pray harder but rather we dress differently. It seems dress codes have changed drastically over the years. Suits, jackets and ties (what are those?) are disappearing. We were limited in what we could bring overseas for obvious reasons but brought one 'good' outfit each. However, had we worn hiking gear, we might have still looked most presentable. Instead, our smart attire was reminiscent of the last century or earlier. We saw 'bermudas', shorts on both men and women, sandals, tee-shirts to mention the fashions—a little surprising for old-Europe. A new trend is tourists popping into shul with backpacks, having a 'quick pray' and then heading back to the tour group. Nevertheless, it did not detract from the occasions for us. Some of the committee members got a little excited when women/men stood too close to the men/women sections respectively. Fortunately, no woman approached me...that's for Jen.
At the final session of the Yom Kippur day, we had arrived for Neilah, which means the 'closing', only to find a large group of Israeli tourists, much older than the usual young men and women, blocking the entrance. The gate was locked. One fellow mentioned that there would be no Neilah service. We spoke briefly and then the tour group moved off. Jen and I waited and within minutes the president arrived and opened the gate. People, we find, often look at things and make facts fit their perceived conclusions. I really wished I could have found my new friend as he seemed keen to visit the interior. We had joked at the time that of course it was closed, after all, it was Neilah time.
From our experiences, we have discovered while the formal orthodox religion is very rigid and staid, the general practice of Jews cover a myriad of behaviors, customs, ideas, ways, celebrations, perceptions that make it impossible to define the religion in practical terms. It seems the Israelis, both hikers and general tourists, are strong followers of this concept, each doing his/her own thing.
On a sad note, we met a mature Israeli couple at our apartment complex. We suggested a hike for them but they decided to take a bike ride instead. When we returned late afternoon, the wife informed us that her husband had tumbled over a cliff after they changed their minds and hiked instead. Fortunately, it was a very low fall and he seems to be doing okay although they decided to return home. Each day, one should count one's blessings.
One of the most enjoyable hiking days, in mist and mystery, in Bucegi.
Winds gusted on the summit in Bucegi but the view of the other side was spectacular, not to mention the position itself.
Jenni and Jeffrey
Thursday, September 20, 2018
As we return from the peak, Postavarul, we approach the ski resort...most attractive.
We’d completed hiking in the great mountainous region of the Fagaras by Friday afternoon. We needed a rest after some grueling and steep hikes and climbs. We arrived back at the pensione and set about preparing, mainly Jen, who takes care of the culinary requirements, exclusively. I make the tea. The food choices for us have been rather limited on this trip—even the salads have lost some of their consistent crispness and taste. By the time we reached course two, a mix of vegetables in heavy sauce, the food did not taste appetizing or we began to feel rotten. Thereafter, my stomach went into free-fall or -flow while Jen held the fort for a while. Thirty-six hours later I began to nibble on dry bread. Jen went the same way, delayed by about 15 hours. We did much sleeping until Sunday morning when we headed for the second largest city, Brasov, for the New Year.
The previous Wednesday night, at about 2:15am (okay, Thursday) we were awakened by banging in the garden below our room. We thought about it for less than a few seconds and came to the conclusion it had to be...bears. It was indeed. Two large animals were feasting on the garbage, comprising the contents of three large trash cans. Whether it was our imagination although we doubt it, the buggers were bloody large. Fast forward two nights, the period of illness, at midnight, a single bear returned. If nothing else they are consistent and so went through the routine of overturning the garbage cans and picking out tasty morsels. By that time, we’d lost interest in their snack times and extremely messy routines. Did we mention how large they were? However, at 2am I decided I needed some medicine to settle the stomach.
After twenty months of refraining from Diet Coke, I’ve made a comeback to Coke Zero. There‘s no truth in the rumor that the Coca Cola Corporation enticed me back.... nice thought though. What’s the relevance of the drink? In Romania, many of the pensiones have a community kitchen rather than one in each room. So I had a decision to make. Forego the medicine or go to the fridge under the gazebo, the bears’ hangout. Decision time. Man or bear...um mouse? I think the corporation, Coca Cola, would appreciate the decision I made but it’s difficult to say whether it was the catalyst for the cure.
Excuse the image but it's taken in darkness. One of the bears (story above.).
We came to the conclusion some time ago, although not relevant to the above story, is that to appreciate the journey through life and particularly in Eastern Europe, ideally one should have a good sense of humor. It makes a difference. By the way, whether it be Romania, Croatia, Hungary, Slovakia, Slovenia, Serbia and hopefully, more countries to follow, our experiences have been favorable and most times, uplifting. What a world. Who would have thought when we were a mere forty years old ('fall of the wall'), that one day we would develop a firm fondness for the former satellite states of ‘Mother Russia’. Da!
We reach the cabana after 2,400 feet climb and the editor decides to read while I talk to the trees.
We head up a further 700 feet to reach the small peak accumulating over 3,000 feet of elevation gain; the editor gives up reading for scrambling.
One of the pictorial rewards from the peak.
We could get wet on the way down.
That's an option although it would upset us greatly.
Phew! She prefers this option as the trail crosses a road.
Difficult to separate the trees from the forest as we move upwards, the ski resort below.
Another town nestled below the mountains and just beyond the woods.
Jenni and Jeffrey
Jen returns from the mountain and we go walking in Zarnesti, capturing a little flavor of the town. I was so tired at that stage I wanted to 'borrow' the bike...until I spotted the big stick.
We are lined up in order of age, Lluiz on my right at nearly 27 and Sergi who turned 28 on the day. I find myself literally in the middle. Jen and I had the pleasure of spending many delightful hours in the company of these two young men from Spain who do themselves and parents proud. Truth be told, we returned from different hikes—they are in fact, supporting me. Thank you Lluiz and Sergi for entertaining us and adding great perspectives to our discussions. To avoid any conflict, although both young men are from Catalonia, Lluiz makes it clear he's not from Spain while Sergi feels a lot less committed, I think. I trust that clears up any doubts...and opens a whole set of new ones.
Saturday, September 15, 2018
A mother's dream position, one way of looking at it.
Mountains block out the sun early in the late afternoon.
We thought of introducing the Piatra Crailui Mountains by trying to get to the crux of the matter or in its case, some of the peaks. We’ll show more detail later but two hikes exhilarated us enormously; actually, they were thrilling, gave us pause for contemplation and rank as some of our finest experiences in mountain climbing rather than hiking. To reach Cabana Curmatura, we ascended some 2,350 feet and from that point, over the afternoon and the following morning, climbed the craggs to reach the ridges and peaks. We’ll go into more detail in follow through blogs. We spent the night in a cabana situate below the ridges.
There are times that we walk around, whether in the mountains or towns, and wonder where we are. Sometimes it feels like we should pinch ourselves to determine whether we are dreaming. While not every day is ‘peaches and cream’, in fact, some are rough and tough, the rate of acquisition of new and varying experiences is amazing. Whether it’s discovering the nuances of our local environment, the people and customs, the trail systems, the difficulties in making progress up and on the mountains, animals in the wild or the magnificence of the natural wonders, they combine to leave indelible impressions in our minds and no doubt, influence the way we react, anticipate, think and absorb the occurrences in these dynamic environments all over the world. By the time Friday evening arrived, after a hectic week of so much variety and challenges, our muscles aching, our feet feeling as though they had walked barefoot over the rocks, we fell asleep soon after 8:30pm. What a few days!
Returning after an exhilarating experience.
Jen approaches the first rock-face after hiking for a while up a stiff ascent.
Taking the gap.
Taking in the spectacular views and positions.
Reaching the peak on day-one.
Some serious concentration going on inside her head.
We won't forget this experience.
Jenni and Jeffrey
After two days in the mountains, we returned to a lovely apartment with a dream view.