Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Travelling to Bran from Bucharest by train and bus: a small guide

Given that we found that travelling in Romania can be somewhat challenging if you use the public transport, I thought I might put forward this guide in the hopes someone might find it useful.

If you can, make it to the Gara de Nord railway station first thing in the morning to catch an early train. This is going to be a long trip (especially if you plan to stop by Sinaia to see the Peles Castle as well, which in hindsight I wouldn't recommend if you are travelling from a great distance like we did, because it makes for a highly stressful, packed day). To get to Bran, you need to go to Brasov by train and from there by bus (or taxi, if you've got the money, but it's really expensive).

It is a really good idea to buy tickets to Brasov in advance online. You need to create an account for that at the CFR Calatori website, but it will save you a lot of headache, ensuring you will have a seat. Given the journey is kinda long (around 2 hours and 30 minutes on the average), you're gonna need it to save your legs for the walking around. Check the number of the train car very carefully, it can be confusing and not clearly marked - ask anybody from the train personnel if in doubt. Squabbling over seats can be unpleasant... 

In Brasov, look for a little kiosk outside with blue "Bilete abonamente" or "Casa de bilete" written on it. Mostly the ladies working as ticket vendors are very nice and keen to help you if you ask them which bus to take, how to get here or there, where the bus stop is and so on and so forth, but not all of them speak English. The vendor lady we encountered in Brasov didn't and in Constanta likewise, so be prepared for the possibility English won't get you anywhere. But if all you need is tickets, it's okay, simply say: "Bilete." and show the required amount on your fingers, OR if you know how much the tickets cost in a particular place (like in Constanta it was 3 lei whilst in Brasov 4 lei), just give the lady the exact amount and she'll hand you the number of tickets you need.
Now, the tickets here are a bit special - we asked about them our sweet landlady in Constanta, but unfortunately due to a language barrier we didn't get 100% sure information. It would seem they are for 2 rides, to your destination and back; but it could also be one ticket can be used for 2 people. We don't know for sure, this is what we gathered from the explanation, use at your own risk. (Any Romanian reader out there who might kindly clarify this?)

As one wonderful local guy who gallantly led us away from danger and to the bus stop we were searching for warned us, the Brasov railway station is potentially not the safest place - thieves and drugs, so be careful. We are really, really grateful he showed up and stepped in. The rule of thumb we learned the hard way in Romania is to research a lot before you venture out on a trip if you don't have a Smartphone and can't print out a map, to the point it might seem obsessive, because otherwise you're almost guarranteed you'll hit a snag. Also, things aren't always where Google Maps say they are...
 Back to Brasov. There is a bunch of bus stops in front of the railway station, but the one you need to get to Bran is not there; instead, you need to get to the road and turn right. The buses kind of seem to arrive as they please and not according to the timetable posted at the stop (though that could have been we were just unlucky and it was an one-off thing), so just be patient and keep hydrated. The bus drivers we've encountered in Romania were generally nice and I haven't seen one that wouldn't stop when he sees you are running after the bus, so it's definitely worth pursuing it - especially since the stops are not marked in places and seeing the bus offload and onload people is your only way of guessing the stop is somewhere there. The bus you need is either 23 or 23b and you need to get to the Stadionul Tineretalui station; there, you will see a gas station - the bus station or Autogara is behind it.
Look for the bus with a Bran -Moeciu sign on it. The tickets for two cost us some 16 lei and it took us approximately an hour, I think, to get from the Brasov Autogara to Bran, also due to some road work, just in time for one of the last tours - the very last tour is at 6 pm.


One thing: do bring with yourself a fan for your bus journey to Bran. In the hot Romanian summer, they are generally a good idea. And watch out for the Rasnov fortress, because it is spectacular!
Once you see the castle, stand up and go to the door to signal the driver you want him to stop, or tell him beforehand it's Castelul Bran you wanna get to. There is a bus stop for the buses back from Bran to Brasov with a timetable thankfully posted there, but heavens know where is the stop for the castle... maybe it's opposite it, maybe it isn't. We didn't find it. If you do, tell us!
If you don't have a Smartphone like us (and maybe even if you do, because it seems the late afternoon buses are not marked on the website), make sure to note down the time when the buses depart back for Brasov and keep with you the timetable of your train, with the last train clearly marked. It may sound like a matter-of-course thing, but chasing after the last train at a break-neck speed in a taxi really isn't fun, and it isn't good for the budget, either. Make sure you arrive to the railway station well in advance, because long queues might occur - we stood in one for twenty minutes and missed a train because of that. The ticket machines didn't work. And it is entirely possible for the ticket vendors to refuse to sell you tickets if you are running late, as we have found out. In that case, as a nice local girl who told us about it did, just hop on the train anyway and pay the fee to the conductor. It's better than remaining stranded there in the dark. And it can get pitch dark in Romania pretty quickly.
Also, the trains don't always arrive on time, it happened to us several times they actually arrived early - and they don't stay long, so they are really, really easy to miss. Just a heads up. Or they can be delayed. A lot. It would seem in fact trains are a running joke here, because whenever we talked about them and our experiences with local people, they were bursting at the seams with laughter, agreeing with every negative thing we said and adding some with fierce delight.

The Secret Staircase

For adults, the tickets cost 40 lei per person and the castle is definitely worth it. The tour is self-guided, which is a great thing, and the rooms have got English plaques explaining the history of the castle and the room. If you are a history buff or if you have read some Zsigmond Móricz, you will surely appreciate the castle's connection with Gabor Bethlen. (I almost squealed with delight!)
You are allowed to take photos to your heart's content, so long you don't use flash. The castle is packed with many interesting little details, many narrow and winding staircases (even a secret one!) and there is a great view from it.

In conclusion, Transylvania and Bran are an unforgettable experience and they are simply magnificent and worth returning to and exploring in-depth - but make sure to be well-prepared. 

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Viviana Iris Brand Launch Giveaway: Enter to Win Bloomers Worth 100 USD!!!

Click the image to enter the giveaway!!!

Yaaay, finally figured out how to use Kingsumo (sort of), so the giveaway we promised on Lolita Updates we'd host is live! *happydance* After you sign up, like us on Facebook and share the giveaway there to win this lovely, fluffy cotton sateen and tulle goodness! For the best chance to win, follow us on Instagram and share the giveaway on Pinterest and Twitter, it all earns you extra entries! Good luck everyone, can't wait to find out who the winner is:-)))

Friday, August 31, 2018

Mini Projects: Real Soap For BJD, the Gothic Door Update and More!

 The Gothic door is almost done from one side - have to figure out what to do with the reverse one...  plus the frame for the door is a nightmare so far - I think I need to get some balsa wood for it.  But finally in Romania I found some nice hinges for it, yay, so at least that problem is solved!

The sitting room, how it looks so far. It looks beter in reality, but I'm not satisfied with it, anyway. The colours of the walnut and the mahogany furniture clash. I think I'll just transfer the walnut into the study, once I begin working on it. And I'll move this room to another one, to make space for a corridor with a staircase, I think.

Harvest and preparing for winter in the Barbie dollhouse. Looking forward to making some nice tiled stove in the style used here in Bohemia in the 19th Century... Gosh I wish I could get my hands on some local 19th Century catalogue!

Embroidered towels for the ladies of the Barbie house... three done, about thirteen more to go, I believe. I lost count. Need to make census of the inhabitants...

The cook resting after a lot of baking. Made the bread, the baguette and all the other baked stuff out of salt dough, the kettle was a gift from a friend who found it in an antique store - seems it's actually copper and looks lovely when polished. Been a while since I did, looks like it needs to be done again. The bread baskets are made of wire and cord in one case, in the other, of wire and bast twine, if I remember correctly. The table was made by daddy and me, the chair is from a flea market. And I really need to re-root her hair and finish the dress... oh well, one day.

Real scented soap for our BJD!!! It was such fun to make! We traditionally put scented soap into the clothing in our wardrobes to make it smell nice and to ward off moths, so this was a must have for our dolly. I might make some more with a different scent when I have scraps of it...

Now, there is more, but I can't walk because of a sprained knee, so more photos will have to wait till it heals a bit:-) What are you working on, folks?

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Beautiful Sights: Hluboká nad Vltavou Castle

Once upon a time, Prince Jan Adolf II Schwarzenberg and his lovely wife Eleonora travelled to England. The Schwarzenberg couple fell in love with it, truly, madly, deeply,  and decided to build a bit of it in Bohemia. The result is breathtaking.
Inspired by the Windsor, this castle and the grounds took some thirty-one years to build and it is as spectacular inside as it is outside. You can clearly see the Schwarzenbergs were a wealthy and powerful family in every room and every lobby - which is good for us tourists, because we can now admire all the wonderful castles and palaces they've left behind as their legacy:-)
So much inspiration for dollhouse decoration...
The castle is filled with incredible carvings both in wood and in marble, some of them of unearthly fragility. One especially frail carved mirror frame took seventeen years to make to the local masters - I wish I had a photo of it to show what beauty human hands are capable of producing. Sadly it was not possible to take photos inside, so let me share the exterior at least:-) Welcome in a fairytale.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

1870s-inspired Pink Brocade "Innocence and Roses" Period Lolita Gown Project

Hiya everyone! So, we've just had a blast at the wonderful Bring&Buy event organized by Margueritte Weinlich and this inspired us to start planning for some more events in a couple of months to come. But, the classical problem - we've got nothing to wear!
I've got this sweet pink brocade laying in my stash and initially I thought, hmm, maybe I could match Iris and make something Rococo-inspired.
Iris: "Are you sure? You've never worn it, do you think you'd feel comfortable? You usually feel good in 19th Century-inspired stuff... how about you turn it into something 1870s-like?"
Me: "I'll just watch the I want Candy Marie Antoinette video and I'll be fine, you'll see."
I fiddled around with it for a while, Iris improved it, I fiddled around with it some more till I was so-so satisfied... and then I went back to Iris, peeked in and timidly asked: "How about we add a bustle to it and 1870s it up?"
One big chuckle and a knowing look from Iris later, there was the design for the skirt done and I had the basic idea for the shape and the decorations on the bodice laid out.

Now the work on the bodice is going to be interesting... enlarging teensy tiny patterns from old magazines is always fun. Good thing I've got Iris to refresh my memory as to how it's done... she's the most amazing, patient and fun teacher.

So, fingers crossed, the back and the front are going to look similar to this... I especially love the back.
We are, however, actually starting with the skirt part - it's an interesting experiment to see how the gored panels (?is that how it's called?) will translate to the Lolita shape.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Travelling in Lolita when you're ill: a small guide

Tropical temperatures are here, holidays are fast approaching and the season for travelling is here, so I thought I might put together some tips that worked for me when travelling in Lolita as a person with frequent health issues. This list is by no means complete, so if you can think up a suggestion of your own, please go ahead and write it in the comments:-) Happy summer everybody!
(Ok, ok. I know it's not summer yet according to the calendar. But the nature seems to think otherwise.)

Image courtesy of JessicaDennisDesigns on Etsy

  • First of all, put on a dress or a skirt that is not constraining in any way. A-line dresses and simple skirts that aren't decorated with any heavy frills are a good idea.
  • Don't bother yourself with a wig; the cuteness is not worth the headache and the overheating. 
  • Keep your medication close at hand, especially if you've got some that's used for emergencies. It tends to hit when you need it least, so it's best to be prepared. This might be superfluous to mention, but better safe than sorry - if you are travelling with someone (a friend, a boyfriend/girlfriend, relatives...), make sure they know what to do if you get sick and won't panic in the crucial moment.
  • Water. Keep yourself hydrated, especially in these hot days, and have the bottle always close by. 
  • Make sure any of the layers can be taken off; might be actually better to travel with cute shorts underneath instead of bloomers, so that, if you get too hot, you can just strip down to a T-shirt and shorts and still be decent for public transport like trains or buses.
  • Your parasol is your good friend, if you can put up with this extra thing to carry and it doesn't tire you out too much. In extra hot regions like the Southern Europe it's often a lifesaver.
  • Skirts and dresses that have pockets often tend to be easier on an organism that tends to get exhausted easily than a purse, plus you can't forget them anywhere if brain fog hits you. Alternatively, for me at least, a cute backpack generally works better for the weight is distributed evenly on both shoulders and is easier to carry. 
  • Going heavy on the accessories might prove exhausting after some time spent on the road; casual and simple does it.
  • Keep a snack close by, especially if you are prone to hypoglycemia. Fresh fruit for example is good as a quick thing to nibble on periodically through the journey. Cools down, brings in sugar and refreshes.
  • Smaller, less poofy petticoat (or even none at all) might be a better idea than a huge one, depending on what travelling space you shall have available for yourself; in any case, at least in my experience, it tends to be a little less hot. Petticoats tend to be from synthetic materials, so in summer they can turn into a burning hothouse. Overheating can be dangerous for anyone, but for people with chronic issues it especially isn't a good idea.
  • Keep your phone charged and keep it with you at all times. Sometimes people will be nice and will help you out if they see you are sick, but sometimes they won't care or might think you are high on drugs and just step over you when you are in fact struggling to stay alive.
  • Medical bracelets can be made very cute and might be a good way to give yourself a slightly better chance this won't happen. Lolify it to Heaven and back; go crazy with it. Just make sure the important part with the info about your specific condition will be clearly visible.
  • Keep the fabrics light, if you can. Minimise the weight you carry in any way possible to prevent exhaustion.  
  • Cute, sparkly sneakers or ballet flats with sweet bows tend to work better for longer journeys than normal Lolita shoes that can be challenging to take on and off. They also tend to be easier to walk in in the long run. 
  • If you don't usually use crutches, but you know there are moments when having some support as you walk might be handy, consider trekking poles - they can be folded away and they can be gotten in pink. I've seen girls with chronic spinal or leg joints problems being saved by them a couple of times on longer trips when they thought they just can't walk any longer. 
  • Ellie had some brilliant suggestions! So here they come:
    Minimal make-up.
    Suncream with a high SPF.
    Supply of handkerchiefs for nasty summer colds and use on public transport. They could be used to cover mouths or hands, when holding railings.
    Having hair away from the face, in an up-do can be very useful for keeping cool.
    Thanks so much, Ellie!
Hope you enjoy your holiday! Where are you planning to go this year? Tell me in the comments:-)

Monday, April 30, 2018

A Quick Update: 1876 Petticoat Progress

It's starting to look good, methinks...however, it seems to provide little in terms of support in the crucial area below the knees. I wonder, will two more trainless petticoats underneath solve the problem, or will I have to go the bustle cage way?


Aaand I'm all out of lace. I'm thinking of using tulle lace for the remaining ruffle rows, since it looked lovely when I tried it, but I'm not sure how historically accurate that would be... thoughts?

Sunday, March 18, 2018

LBC: What Has Become a Staple in Your Wardrobe and Why

Although this dress is actually pretty new, it has quickly become my favourite - I just adore the 1890s girl fashions and have adored them since childhood. The sleeves!!! The skirts!
Sorry about the raw edges on the hat - it's not finished yet.

I wanted a dress I could wear both outside and at home; a practical, washable dress without any lace for easy upkeep, dress that could be dressed up or down as needed. And then I found this fabric at a local shop and was overjoyed - it was just perfect! Originally, I put lace at the hem of the skirt, but ripped it off - and I'm happier with it now. Cute. Practical. Comfy. With strong 1890s vibes. My preshioussss!!!
And you know what's the best part?

Now I just need more of the 1890s-inspired dresses like this...

The second staple is a skirt my sister Iris made for me as a present - because aww, the teddy bear print!<3<3<3 Plus the simple elegance of the cut means it can be, again, dressed up or down as I please. And it's washable. And soft to touch. And voluminous. And I just love it.

Btw, there's still enough of this teddy bear fabric to make a skirt - so look forward to seeing it for sale in the shop :-)
Now I'm looking forward to see what the others have posted :-)

The Bloody Teaparty
Roli's Ramblings
Petite Tomoyo


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