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  1. Romania 2023. Day 4. Zărnești Gorges in Piatra Craiului National Park
  2. Romania 2023. Day 4. Bran Castle (Dracula's Castle)
  3. Romania 2023. Day 3. Rupea Fortress
  4. Romania 2023. Day 3. Sighișoara
  5. Romania 2023. Day 2. The Black Church
  6. Romania 2023. Day 2. Valea Cetății Cave
  7. Romania 2023. Day 2. Bear Sanctuary
  8. Romania 2023. Day 1. First day in Brașov
  9. Romania 2023. Day 1. Chișinău - Bucharest
  10. Your first bow

Prăpăstiile Zărneștiului (Zărnești Gorges) are one of the many, many places in the Carpathian mountains where you can just walk on forever, lost in the forest, the rocks, the crags, the air.

Beware the bears! It's not a joke: there are wild bears in the mountains, and in some places people advise you to wait until the weekend to visit some places, because there will be more people there.

You may feel small:

Visit in autumn:

Grab your climbing gear:

Get lost in the beauty of it all:

This castle has nothing to do with Dracula, and everything to do with Marie of Romania, the last queen of Romania. This doesn't stop the advertising and marketing, and hordes of tourists.

It's a sham, avoid at all costs

In the park below the castle:

The castle itself is rather small and cozy. When you manage to remove 100 tourists per square feet.

It was Halloween time

Plenty of austere rooms re-built and refurbished during the time of Marie (early 20th century).

What prevents men from dressing like this? Though even the clothes on display in the castle are based on movie props.

Brave the ascent to the bat:

I wouldn't mind having one of these at home:

One of the many fortifications scattered around this region.

What makes this fortress unique is that it was painstakingly rebuilt almost from scratch in 2000s to preserve the history of this place.

Legend has it, Decebalus, the last king of Dacia committed suicide inside the fortress

It's well worth a visit

A city with a UNESCO Heritage site in the middle of it.

It is quite good, and the photos can't capture it.

Flowers:

Deer:

Streets:

Letterboxes:

Basements in old churches:

Souvenirs

More streets:

Even more streets:

Suspicious houses:

Houses:

Originally a Roman Catholic, but later a Lutheran Church in Brașov's historical center. The modern legend goes that it's called The Black Church because it was sooted by fire in late 17th century.

At one time it was common in Romanian Saxony to decorate churches with Ottoman carpets, and The Black Church has the largest collection of such carpets.

You can see them hanging from above:

Or on the sides

Not only carpets are elaborate and/or colorful. Tombstones are, too. These are just some of the tombstones, because original graves were removed from the church after the plague.

The rest of the church is a regular Lutheran church inside an impressive building.

A small cave near Râșnov

The approach is quite steep, so pace yourself. It is very beautiful in autumn though.

The cave itself is small but well maintained and cared for.

IIRC this horse carved by some speleologists while they were exploring the cave.

Libearty Bear Sanctuary by Millioane de Prieteni (Millions of Friends) is cool place and worth a visit just for the history of the place and of the bears.

The whole thing started as a dog shelter in 1999, but since 2005 they've been taking care of bears, too. Look at them go. Or, well, look at them be leisurely:

They are taking care of 126 bears. And they are still getting animals rescued from private homes and illegal zoos.

These bears are in a limbo state:

So the sanctuary adopts these bears, sterilises them (so that no cubs are born in captivity to perpetuate the cycle), and gives them a huge chunk of a forest to roam, with lakes, pools, trees, places to build dens and so on. And also treats them, takes care of them, monitors their health, and provides them with additional food (because there 126 bears after all).

Each bear comes with its own story, and many of them make you lose all faith in humanity. But the sanctuary restores that fate, because the people who work there are awesome.

The first day was spent traveling to Brașov and sleeping off the fatigue, but we did walk around a bit.

Colorful walls:

"Wildlife":

The mountains are never too far away

The Black Church (we'll visit it another day):

The Church of Dormition of the Mother of God

Cats

The railway station in Chișinău is, or could be, beautiful. It suffers from neglect and Moldova's inexplicable love affair with dull gray paint.

The train that runs between Chișinău and Bucharest is charitably called an express train. It's also charitably called modern. It consists of Soviet-era carriages mildly refurbished to be able to connect to Romania's actual modern trains:

The corridor and the rest of the carriages are unchanged from the Soviet times. It should be noted that everything is very clean even if it doesn't often look like this in the pictures.

A view into the "restaurant". Snacks, and alcohol:

The toilet is still a hopper toilet. That is, you step on a pedal, the bottom opens up and everything is dumped outside. They keep it locked during stops, for obvious reasons :)

It's an unwritten law that you must eat when you travel. This time with some traditional plăcinte.

The track gauge in the former Soviet Union is wider than the track gauge in Europe. On the border with Romania the carriages are lifted up and fitted with new wheels (called bogies).

As you can probably guess, the entire system was built in Soviet times and never updated or repaired since.

Based on a conversation after completing my beginner archery course.

Which bow

Without going into too much detail it's recommended to start with a recurve because it will help you achieve results with your techinque faster.

You can always switch to barebow, or traditional bow, or compound, or longbow if you wish.

Starting out with your bow

It's possible that your new bow will be heavier than you expect. So this is what you should do when coming to the club:

Example:

The next time you'll probably shoot 40 arrows with your bow, and the time after that 70 arrows etc.

ILF

Make sure that the components you buy (riser, limbs) are ILF (International limb fitting) standard. It's one of the few standards that exist in archery, and you want things to fit together.

Components you need

Riser (sv: stock), ILF

Example: Risers by Win&Win have a budget series that can be had for under 2300 SEK.

Limbs (sv: lemmar), ILF

Get the cheapest shittiest limbs you can find

String

Stringer: sv: påsträngare [optional]

This is a tool to string your bow in the absence of other helper tools. There are many different ones, but you may want a lighter smaller one that you can carry with you everywhere. Like this:

Arrow rest

The arrow rest should be as smal and light as possible. You want a magnetic arrow rest like in the picture. These ones are easy to attach, the magnet makes sure the arrow rest rests the position when the arrow flies away, it doesn't wear out (like soft/rubber rests do).

Don't buy the ceapest or the most expensive one, buy a good one. A good example is Shibuya.

Plunger

The plunger nudges your arrow to make sure it straightens its flight path quicker once you let it loose. A plunger will need tuning according to how you shoot.

Same as arrow rest, don't buy the ceapest or the most expensive one, buy a good one.

Sight

Spend all your money on a sight

If you buy a good one, you will never need another one, ever. The last for decades.

Make sure you're buying a sight suitable for your shooting hand (that is, right-handed, or left-handed)

Stabilizer (sv: stabbar/stabilisatorer)

As a beginner, you want the middle one and the V-bar (to attach side stabilizers later). This is to make sure that the side stabilisers don't help you too much before you develop a proper technique.

Don't go for the cheapest or for the most expensive ones, go for the good ones, they will also last you for a long time. If you find a set of all three stabilisers that goes for a good price, get that, you'll probably want those side stabilisers later.

This is, of course personal preference, but there are a few things to consider:

Magnetic bow stand will simply protect your bow, and makes it convenient to put it down to rest etc.

Bow square (sv: trängvinkeln) [optional]

To set nocking points on arrows

Finger sling (sv. fingerslinga)

Most archers don't use the sling pictured below, and insted use the finger sling pictured above

While you can buy finger slings, you can just make them out of shoe laces (as pictured above). You want a sports shoe lace that is flat (not round).

You will need at least two of these because they can be easily lost. And you shouldn't just use one of them, but use change them from time to time so that they are the same length, state etc., and don't affect you.

Arrows

Do not buy until you've used your own bow for a while. Then you will measure your finger pull weight, and will figure out which arrows you need, and then buy them.

Arrows also consist of four parts that you may need to buy separately:

Summary of equipment

Required

Equipment How much money to spend
Riser ILF Right/left-handed When buying new from a specialized store, even the cheapest one is more than enough
Limbs ILF The cheapest and the shittiest
String Whichever, suitable for small arrow nocks, don't go for the fastest of the fast
Arrow rest Right/left-handed Don't buy the cheapest or the most expensive
Plunger Don't buy the cheapest or the most expensive
Sight Right/left-handed Spend all your money on it
Stabilisers Look for a good price

Special mention:

Equipment How much money to spend
Arrows Don't buy until you've used your bow for a while
Equipment Notes
Quiver Right/left-handed Compartments for arrows. Pockets. Pockets can be closed/zipped-up
Bow stand Light magnetic
Bow square
Stringer Small a light to carry around
Bag Lots of pockets to carry small stuff, a tube to carry arrows and stabilisers
Allen key set Both inches and millimiters (because parts often come in either)

Personal notes

These are numbers for my own first bow:

Part Measurements
Riser 25" (could be called medium by some companies)
Limbs 70" 26#
The measurement above is for a draw length of slightly over 29" (29.2" or 29.3")