A Day at Seven Ladders Canyon

I talk a lot on this blog about vegan cooking because it has been such an important part of my weight loss and fitness journey, but it isn’t just food. It is also about the things that I have been able to do since the weight has come off and my physical fitness has improved. One of those things is hiking, something I never thought I would do, never mind enjoy doing.

We recently hiked Babele in Romania and because the telecabina was not in service that day, what was supposed to be a relatively short, 5 kilometer hike ended up being just over 13 kilometers. That was a very long day which I promise to tell you all about, but now we’re talking about 7 Ladders Canyon.

Seven Ladders Canyon, or Canionul Sapte Scari (in Romanian) is located in the beautiful county of Brasov, which I’m kind of in love with because it is so scenic and serene, plus the endless sea of green is just about the most soothing view I can imagine. Back to Seven Ladders, which should actually be called “A lot of hiking before you get to the seven staircases that will take you up and up and up through the waterfalls”.

A quick view of what you see as you start the journey towards the “ladders”. The day was gorgeous, about 30 degrees Celsius and pretty much cloudless, and best of all? The humidity was at a bare minimum this day.

The hike itself was fairly easy, even for me, but still we ended up doing about 14 or so kilometers, which is quite a feat for me.

We packed for a day hike because we were planning to do a different hike but the line for the telecabina was outrageously long and would have eaten up all the hiking hours of the day. So, we hopped back in the car and drove to this place with our hiking boots, hiking poles (which apparently are a thing) and lots of ice cold water because that’s how I like it.

Here is a photo of me with the brand new hiking poles/sticks, which it turns out can be SUPER helpful on the more treacherous parts of the hiking trail. For the most part it was fairly easy as long as you were very, very careful, but some parts required my deep anti-anxiety breathing so that I wouldn’t freak out. Luckily my hubs is an excellent hiking partner.

And as you can see, even nature was on my side, giving me a nice rainbow as if to say, “Good job, here’s your reward.”

Of course we brought snacks.

Yummy vegan snacks, that we didn’t really stop to eat, aside for splitting a banana and half of 2 energy bars. We had a hemp one and a sour cherry & mulberry and both were delicious, satisfying and they didn’t weight us down!

 

We also packed this yummy vegan jerky which we ended up eating on the car ride home since we got stuck in traffic for 90 minutes!

The ladders were worth the hassle!

I like these trips because they serve as an excellent reminder why I do what I do, and why I am so committed to being healthy and fit. This is something I would have very likely missed out on completely if I hadn’t changed my lifestyle and started taking care of myself. It isn’t about waiting until you’re where you want to be to start living, it’s living on the road to where you want to be.

And the best part of all? I had to buy a new breathable shirt and for the first time in at least 20 years, it was a Large. No extra, no double letters or double digits. #goals #happyvegan #healthyvegan

Vegans On Holiday: Hunedoara, Alba Iulia, Deva & Sighisoara (Romania)

One of my favorite things, aside from food, is traveling. In every place I have ever lived, I have done some serious exploring of the local and near-local sights. Of course I never get to see everything but I get to see a lot so I won’t complain. Much.

Recently the Hubs and I took a 3 day getaway to see more of Romania. There was a castle because of course there was a castle I happened upon thanks to a Facebook recommendation, Castle Corvinilor and that was our second stop on the first day.

From a distance it looks imposing but up close it looks like…a castle. Very cool and still incredibly imposing, only less so.

But as these things tend to go, the view from inside the castle…much better.

The view from one of the inside “windows”.

The day was off to a great start even though the temperature was around 30° C by the time noon rolled around. I made sandwiches for the road because there are very few roadside shops that have ANY vegan food offerings other than fries, which let’s be clear, I will never pass up an opportunity to eat fries but sometimes it’s nice to have more than one option for food.

The first night we ate at a place called Remeny’s and the food was…okay. We had garlic bruschetta toasts to start which was delicious. The soup was bland and overly hot, but to be fair it was vegetable soup. Then we got…you guessed it fried potatoes and a grilled vegetable plate from the a la carte section. The gin & grapefruit cocktail I had was pretty delicious, if a little light on the ice.

The next day we were in Alba Iulia which I have to tell you was my ABSOLUTE favorite part of this trip. Who knew this place had such a rich history?

A few things I learned:

The Thracians (as in Spartacus) are Romanian

The Romans made it this far and conquered parts of this land

There are a lot of torture chambers

The museum on Roman history in Romania is AMAZING

After spending the morning soaking up the beautiful sights and the incredibly hot rays of sun, we spent a few hours on the road towards Sighisoara, but…food.

Twenty minutes at a rest stop and we found a Chinese restaurant in a small town called Deva, with vegan options.

My day was made. I burned a zillion calories walking all around the citadel in Alba Iulia, plus the museum, a fortress and a fantastic obelisk and I got to eat spring rolls, a delicious mushroom potato dish covered in a thick, spicy sweet soy sauce. And we can’t forget vegan noodles!

I am truly sorry to say that this was one of those times where I was too hot, too hungry and yeah, maybe a little bit too cranky to think about taking photos so you’ll just have to take my word that it was a great find. Good Chinese food has, so far, been lacking in this part of the continent.

…parts of another amazing fortress!

Finally we made it to Sighisoara, which for those of you who don’t know, still has tons of leftover influence from its days as part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which means lots of German (a good thing for me since my Romanian language stills are floundering). It turned out that the German influence came in very handy when it came to eating in Sighisoara.

Thanks to Alte Post, a German Gasthaus, we were both able to find (only 2) vegan dishes while our travel companions found plenty of animal-based dishes too.

We got started with beer and muraturi, which is just Romanian for pickled vegetables. They taste a little different than American style pickling but they are very, very delicious. The sauerkraut was part of the German thing, but it was still damn tasty.

Tofu steaks and grilled vegetables with a balsamic reduction. It was good but ordinary, exactly what I’d make if I was feeling super lazy during the week. But again, better than fries. Mostly.

I appreciated their restaurant having a nod to Romania with the vegan sarmale and mamaliga, but it was nothing to write home about. Everything was under-seasoned but after another long day with a lot of walking, it was nice to have a full meal instead of a table filled with side dishes.

But the highlight for me in Sighisoara, was Teo’s Cellar.

Of course.

But this is what you see when you first enter because it’s also a B&B right inside the citadel…as in part of the citadel!

This guy, Teo, was great. His cellar was very cool with all these different ways to drink his different creations while he told us all about the awards he’s won all over Europe and the world. We did a tasting of Palinka, Tuica and Cognac and they were all so delicious I didn’t know what to buy/taste first.

In the end we bought 3 small bottles for friends & family and 1 big bottle of Palinka for ourselves.

We made an impromptu stop at Rupea Fortress on the way home because…it was there!

Overall it was a great trip, very relaxing and I learned a lot. Having vegan options, no matter how slim, is always better than not. The key is to do your research ahead of time to avoid frustrations. We had three options listed but it turns out having salad and fries for some places counts as “vegan options”.