Carlisle, a Visit in the Apple Country

Driving through the winding roads of the Cumberland Valley, Pennsylvania felt like riding a roller-coaster sixty miles an hour, with exciting and breathtaking drops. It was a warm February day yet I could only imagine how treacherous it must be when ice and snow cover these roads. Continue reading

An American in Cluj

“Bucura-te, Tara scumpa, imbracata de parada,
Ca, din alte tari straine, vin prieteni sa te vada!
– Vasile Militaru, 1936

Darius Roby Our paths have crossed years ago at the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science, a residential school in Columbus, dedicated to gifted students from around the state who wanted to be challenged by an enhanced curriculum and by the combined expertise of teachers with doctorates in their respective fields. Continue reading

The Rally That Changed History

Rally 2 5-21-15 Brasov Brasov Rally 5-21-15
Photo: Ileana Johnson 2015
On a beautiful sunny morning, May 21, 2015 when the Orthodox celebrated Ascension Day and Sf. Elena, we walked in the beautiful park downtown Brasov set at the foot of Timpa Peak, where a crowd had gathered in front of a large cross and several tombs of the young men and women killed on December 22-26, 1989, during the Revolution that toppled Ceausescu’s brutal communist regime. Some of them came to a rally and some were simply walking through the park. Continue reading

A Freak Start to an Amazing Trip

Swiss Cannabis Tea Photo: Ileana Johnson 2015
The plane was rocked violently on the tarmac at Dulles by a freak storm. The ten passengers and crew that had managed to board were wide-eyed, praying that the shaking of the Boeing 767 would stop soon and the boarding would resume. My husband was still in the terminal with the rest of the passengers. Lightning and wind gusts were so intense that boarding had been temporarily suspended.
The seven and a half hour flight to Zurich finally took off two and half hours late amid scary dark clouds and soul-rattling sudden altitude drops. Fortunately, as we reached a cruising altitude of 39,000 feet, everything calmed down and we settled into a routine of getting up, stretching, bathroom trips, and watching movies for seven and half hours. I can’t sleep on planes; all my limbs go numb rather quickly. Continue reading

Bran’s Castle and the Legend of Vlad the Impaler

I had promised my friend Silvio to take a journey to Bran’s Castle for a planned radio show on Vlad Tepes, the Romanian hero who fought successfully against the onslaught of the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century A.D.

On the way, I was surrounded by the majestic Carpathian Mountains covered with forests of blue spruce and pine. The villages, with typical Transylvanian wood and rock homes of the western Romanian province, reminded me of grandma’s cabin on a salt mountain in Wallachia, the southern province of Romania. Brown bears and wolves often visited her porch, looking for food. Wolves howled in the night, quite close for comfort, their eyes shining in the dark.
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