Sinaia Title_Needles2015


A few hours by bus from Bucharest sits a little town called Sinaia. It’s a mountain resort town near Bucegi Natural Park + it was refreshingly cool after the heat of the city. It’s popular in the winter for skiing, but we found a lot of people camping in the surrounding area. I had no idea camping was so popular in Romania, but I guess the desire to be surrounded by nature is a universal one!



A local told us we could walk from our hotel into the town of Sinaia, so a small group of us headed out to explore, but it turns out that the city center was 10 kilometers away – a bit longer than we had budgeted for the afternoon. So we changed out strategy + simply moseyed through the small neighborhood along the highway as we headed back to the hotel. It was dotted with small gardens + chicken coops, amidst charming mountain homes. Woven in between were these big, characterless apartment buildings – remnants of the communist era.




I was quite sad to leave the countryside when it was time to head back home. You don’t realize how much a place has changed you, I think, until you find yourself somewhere else. I never considered myself much of a mountain person, but now that I’ve lived in Colorado for eight years, I find myself at home at elevation. The mist floating in between ridges of pine trees was familiar + yet other-worldly at the same time.

It’s hard to believe almost a year has passed since exploring this beautiful country. Already dreaming of when I can return, but for now, I’ll just be here in Colorado, sipping my afinata.

  • LuminitaJuly 27, 2016 - 5:40 am

    Hi Annabelle, it’s so nice to see you liked Sinaia. And that you brought some afinata with you 🙂 Greetings from Romania!ReplyCancel

This video marks the half-way point of 2016. Six months of taking one second of video every day. Having this monthly signpost of sorts is a good reminder to take stock of my goals, see how I’m moving forward, + appreciate everything I’ve accomplished so far this year. Which, as much as I’m sometimes hard on myself for not being as far along as I’d like, is a whole heck of a lot.

June’s highlights: two trips to Louisville + one to California, one baseball game in Cincinnati + one in Denver, and lots of time outside – while still somehow managing to make the most this month than I have all year.

This weekend, while I won’t be working, I’m hoping to spend some time taking stock of the personal goals I set for myself in January to see what needs tweaking + what can be checked off. While also grilling, sitting poolside, loving on my friends (especially those who have served this country) + getting my dance on. Life is a beautiful interplay of working + resting. Once I stopped trying to force “balance,” I’ve found that I somehow have more than I realized.

What are you up to this long weekend? I’d love to hear in the comments!

Did you miss previous 365 recaps? Watch them here:

365 Video Challenge // January Recap

Anyone else shocked by how fast January went by? At

365 Video Challenge // February Recap

Another month has gone by, which means another 29

365 Video Challenge // March Recap

HOW, how is it April already? Between a week of

365 Video Challenge // April Recap

I feel like I say this every month, but holy cow,

365 Video Challenge // May Recap

Welcome to the month in which my mood consistently

Transylvania Countryside

Transylvania is a region of Romania, about 2 hours drive from the capital city of Bucharest. The countryside is absolutely beautiful; however, on the windy country roads outside of Bucharest, visiting these 3 sites took a whole day of driving.

Bran Castle

Bran Castle 2_Needles16

Bran Castle is the legendary Dracula’s castle. The story of Dracula was based on a notoriously bloodthirsty Romanian ruler named Vlad the Impaler. He didn’t actually live in this particular castle, but the location happens to perfectly match the description of the castle in the book of Dracula, even though the author had never actually been to Transylvania. It’s packed during the Halloween season, but since the day of my visit was completely sunny + beautiful, much of the creepiness factor was absent from the castle.





Sinaia Monastery was another stop on our Transylvania adventure. It actually had a tiny museum on the property with the first bible translated into Romanian, which was also the first book translated into Romanian. As a linguaphile, that was a pretty special thing to see. I loved the architecture of this church + the small surrounding grounds.

Peles Castle 2_Needles16

Peles Castle 3_Needles16

Peles Castle_Needles16

Next stop was the castle built by the first king of Romania, who was actually German. It is perfectly fairytale-like, like a scene from Beauty + the Beast. Inside, I took a tour of the first floor where the king had elaborate receiving rooms for diplomats + royals from other countries. He also had a large collection of books (ten thousand of them!) + a library with a secret door. Most of the books are now in the Bucharest National Library, but even the small collection left in the castle’s library still reinforced the Beauty + the Beast vibe for me.

Peles Castle Gardens

Overall, I was completely infatuated with the tranquility of the Romanian countryside. I’m so thankful we had the opportunity to get out of the city for even just a day – completely worth it.

One of the things I’ve been dreaming about recently is a passion project highlighting different Denver neighborhoods + the creative souls who love them. Thankfully, my good friend Stephanie was down to show me around her favorite Denver neighborhood – RiNo, short for River North. We could have spent all day (+ well into the evening) wandering because there are SO many amazing places in this part of our city. Stephanie narrowed it down to these remarkable places which you’ll see featured in the video:

Huckleberry Roasters

Topo Designs

Night Bazaar Denver

The Zero Market

Stowaway Coffee + Kitchen

Also – fun fact: the music you hear in this video was created by Stephanie herself, along with her talented drummer-husband! How cool is that? Stephanie is one of those people who is always challenging me creatively. I’ve been wanting to create custom soundtracks for my videos forever + this has totally inspired me. She killed it, right? Go check her out on Instagram – I know you’ll be inspired.

If you want to know even more about Denver’s cool neighborhoods, you can watch this video featuring some fantastic spots on South Broadway.

Do you know a creative person in Denver that I should feature? How about a neighborhood you’d like to know more about? Let me know in the comments; I’m all ears!

  • KristinJune 16, 2016 - 6:40 am

    Stephanie and Annabelle this is GREAT! It is so well edited and makes Me want to hit all the cool spots in Denver. Great music Stephanie! Loved it.ReplyCancel

Bucharest Title_Needles2015

Travel always makes me want to learn all the languages. As I was preparing for my trip to Romania, I found out that the language is Latin-based. I was curious to see how much Romanian I’d be able to extrapolate based on knowing Spanish, and unfortunately, it wasn’t much.  There are bits + pieces of Romanian that are familiar, especially in its written form, but it was nearly completely unrecognizable in its spoken form. Alas!

Bucharest 1_Needles2015

Bucharest 3_Needles2015

Bucharest is this interesting blend of Orthodox churches, beautiful Belle Arts government buildings + boxy communist-era buildings. Plus a dash of post-dictatorship casinos + “night clubs.” The unique combination meant that as you walked around the city + turned a corner, you never really knew what you were going to get.

Mogosoaia Palace 1_Needles2015

Mogosoaia Palace 2_Needles2015

My dad was attending a conference in Bucharest + the hosts organized a day of touring for us, where we visited a beautiful palace called Mogosoaia, one of the only surviving buildings of its kind. It’s considered to be Romanian Renaissance architecture (also known as Brancovenesc), which is a fascinating blend of Ottoman + Italian influences. The almost-pink brick structures were surrounded by rose gardens + the palace grounds were nestled next to a small lake.

Bucharest 2_Needles2015

We had lunch at a lakeside restaurant, with porches built out back so you could sit on the water to enjoy your meal. Before lunch, we were treated to a tasting of several Romanian wines – I had no idea there were wine regions in Romania! They served traditional Romanian appetizers, soup, polenta + plates of meat for lunch. Then, of course, we finished with dessert. The whole meal took around 3 hours, which is definitely a contrast to our hurried American lives.

I think I ate more pork during my short stay in Romania than I had eaten in the last several years of my life.

Bucharest Village Museum 1_Needles2015

Bucharest Village Museum 4_Needles2015

Bucharest Village Museum 3_Needles2015

On our last day in Bucharest, my dad + I visited the Village Museum, which is an amazing collection of houses from various time periods + regions all across Romania. It gave you a glimpse of what daily life was like for people all across the country. We even stumbled upon a folk dance festival that was taking place inside the museum!

I wasn’t very familiar with Romania or its history before visiting Bucharest last year, but I’m SO glad I did. It just reaffirms my belief that every place on the planet has something beautiful + interesting to offer, which is why I’m obsessed with seeing as much of it as I can. There is so much loveliness in the world.

Have any places you’ve visited surprised you? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!