A Travellerspoint blog

We're staying in Oradea

This will be a new adventure for all of us!

Located just 8 miles from the Hungarian border and spanning both shores of the Crisu Repede River, the elegant city of Oradea is a great starting point for exploring Romania.
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First documented in 1113, under the Latin name Varadinum, the city was administered at various times by the Principality of Transylvania, the Ottoman Empire, and the Habsburg Monarchy. In 1598, the Oradea fortress was besieged and, on August 27, 1660, it fell to the Ottoman raids, only to be seized in 1692 by the Austrians.

Until the construction of flood-banks along the length of the Crisu Repede River, Oradea was facing constant flooding threats. In 1836 a large part of the town was destroyed by fire. The picturesque town of present-day Oradea was rebuilt in the 18th century to the plans of Viennese engineer Franz Anton Hillebrandt following the then-trendy Austrian architectural style called Secession with its richly decorated facades of pale pink, blue, green and white. In addition to the many Baroque buildings, Oradea is remarkable for its particularly rich collection of Art Nouveau architecture.

Oradea University, one of the largest in Eastern Europe, is an excellent educational center in literature, as well as in medicine and sciences.

Baile Felix, a spa resort located only 5 miles south of the city, is home to several thermal springs and medical centers offering treatments that alleviate rheumatism, arthritis, and neurological problems.

Interesting facts:

  • There are over 100 religious sites of different denomination in Oradea, including three synagogues, the biggest Baptist Church in Eastern Europe and the Church of the Moon (Biserica cu Luna) – featuring an astronomical clock depicting the phases of the moon.
  • Austrian mathematician Georg von Peuerbach (1423 – 1461) worked at the Observatory of Varadinum (present-day Oradea), using it as the reference or prime meridian of Earth in his Tabula Varadiensis, published posthumously in 1464.

Information was taken from http://www.romaniatourism.com/oradea.html.

Here's a bit about our home in Oradea thanks to http://actionfelix.org/en/noble-house.
Noble House is the result of the vision and passion of the late Linda Hörnberg. The house originally was created as a studio for arts, crafts and antique refinishing projects. It was envisioned as a place where the children of Caminul Felix could develop and learn applicable skills. In her loving memory, the building was finished in the Spring of 2006.

Currently Noble House serves as a rustic guesthouse/small hotel. It currently offers 12 modern double guestrooms with private bathrooms. Each room is pleasantly appointed, with hardwood floors and tile bathroom. The house also offers meeting rooms and a Gathering Hall decorated with Romanian antiques.

Posted by gooberkn 08:48 Archived in USA Tagged habitat_for_humanity Comments (0)

Looking forward to my 11th team to Beius Romania...

... here's a look back at the previous ten teams

In 2003, I led my first team to Beius Romania with Habitat for Humanity. Seth Fischer and I knew little about the country, the affiliate, and our team. We were excited to travel to Eastern Europe and thrilled with our project. We worked on a four-family apartment style house right in the town of Beius. It was incredible. Emil, our host coordinator, showed us the town of Beius and the surrounding areas. He was so patient with our team and had such passion about his town, affiliate, and country. It was infectious! I knew at the end of the two week trip that I wanted to come back the following summer.

Beius 2003 July Group Shot

Beius 2003 July Group Shot

Alice and Katie working hard in Beius - July 2003

Alice and Katie working hard in Beius - July 2003

In 2004, Alice and I brought another team to Beius. We learned about "Emil Surprises" in which Emil would constantly surprise us with new adventures during our free time in Beius. Sam and Tracy (the boy as he was called) came to Romania this year which added a new element of fun to the group!

Beius 2004 July Group Shot

Beius 2004 July Group Shot


Beius 2004 July

Beius 2004 July

In the summer of 2005 I convinced my good friend Tyler to join me on the Habitat trip. Kris, my good friend from Habitat for Humanity International's office in Americus GA (volunteered there in 2001-2002), and I led a team in July. The summer heat didn't stop us working hard on the houses in the village of Mizies. We spent a long time putting the trusses for the roof together this week. Our arm muscles were huge by the end of the week from all the hammering we did!

Beius 2005 July Group Shot

Beius 2005 July Group Shot


Beius July 2005 - Busy Working

Beius July 2005 - Busy Working

After my trip in July, Tyler and I travelled throughout Europe including heading to Bratislava, Vienna, and ITALY! It was a great adventure. I then went back to Beius for another team! That's right - I led two teams that summer to Beius!!! My August team was the first one that I led by myself and will always hold a special fond memory in my heart. All those trusses we put together in July - well my August team got to dissemble them and re-do them since Habitat changed their dimensions of the roof! Only I knew that secret - although now everyone does! This was also the team where I was able to participate in my first dedication ceremony at Habitat. Beautiful event! It was heartwarming to witness the homeowner receiving her own keys to her house.

Beius 2005 August Group Shot

Beius 2005 August Group Shot

Beius 2005 August - Installing Floors with Valer

Beius 2005 August - Installing Floors with Valer

During my summer in Beius, I had a conversation with Emil about how I wished to see Beius in the winter. Sure enough, by the time I left in August, he had put me on the schedule for a team in February 2006. This time, I convinced my good friends Mike and George to join me on the team. It took a lot of nudging (Mike hates the cold), but after a few promises of making chocolate chip cookies and a few sessions at Archies, I convinced the two of them to join me. We had my smallest group - only 7 members - but to our joy, it was in the 50s while we were building! We didn't see any sunflowers along the way, but we did get to really learn about the town of Beius and its wonderful people.

Beius 2006 February Group Shot

Beius 2006 February Group Shot

Working Hard in February 2006

Working Hard in February 2006

In July 2006, Tyler and I were back again leading another team to Beius. We joked with Valer and Florin, our construction supervisors, that we made a "Hunks of Romania" calendar to raise funds to come back again. We actually made the calendar for the them of all action shots from the previous summer. After a lot of laughs, we were back to work again in the summer heat. I was missing the cooler temps of February! Helen and Declan, two members that met on my team, are actually married right now and living happily ever after! Who would have thought that you can find love on a Habitat site in Romania!

July 2006 - Group Shot

July 2006 - Group Shot

Our transport

Our transport

Hammering the frame of the house

Hammering the frame of the house

July 2007 marked my 7th team to Beius. In celebration of six teams already completed, Emil organized an accelerated build for my group. We started and finished a house in six days! It was hard work, temperatures were over 100 degrees all week, but we managed to dedicate the house on the last day and share the first meal inside the newly painted house! It was a definite celebration in Beius, I was actually on a morning talk show (similar to Oprah) and had my own personal translator. We built in a village about 30 minutes outside of Beius and had a great experience. The house was built in the back of the grandparents current home. The grandparents, parents, and two children were all living in a small, cramped, two room house without indoor plumbing. I was in charge of drywalling their new bathroom in the new house! So exciting!!!

Group Shot - July 2007

Group Shot - July 2007

Almost done!

Almost done!

House is Finished - Dedication Ceremony!

House is Finished - Dedication Ceremony!

In July of 2008, I took a summer off from doing Habitat trips and missed it tremendously. I came back strong in August 2009 with a new group. It was great to be reunited with my friends from Beius and to meet a whole new group of eager volunteers in my team. Heather and Duncan would come back again with me the following summer. Patrick would then spend a year in Budapest after our trip. It was an amazing experience, yet again.
Beius August 2009 Group Shot

Beius August 2009 Group Shot

Working Hard with Cement Mixers

Working Hard with Cement Mixers

In 2010, I returned again to Beius. This time we worked for a few days at Caminul Felix in Oradea (mentioned in my last blog entry) and once again Emil surprised me. We were able to spend an afternoon at the water park! We went on water slides, relaxed our muscles in the thermal baths, and had a great BBQ after! My good friend Sam (he's been on my Mexico trip, Chile trip, and Romania in 2004) came back again this year as well as my good friends Rich and Geralynn from Chile and Costa Rica trips.
Beius July 2010 Group Shot

Beius July 2010 Group Shot

Manuela and Katie

Manuela and Katie


Miranda and Steve stomping the ground and getting ready for a foundation

Miranda and Steve stomping the ground and getting ready for a foundation

Finally, in 2011 I returned to Beius again for a special 10th build celebration. We built a house in one week! We started on the foundation and finished the house by the end of the busy week. I had a few folks back on my team again like Manuela and Miranda and I had the chance to meet a ton of other folks. It was a great week. These are just a few of the photos to show you from the week:
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I leave for Budapest in three weeks from tomorrow. I can't wait to meet an entirely new team of individuals and look forward to seeing my Romanian friends again. Be sure to follow along this blog as I will update you on our trip and the progress we make throughout the week!

Until next time, have a good night!
Katie

Posted by gooberkn 18:04 Archived in USA Tagged beius habitat_for_humanity Comments (1)

The Ultimate Packing Guide

GV Beius Romania 2013

Note: This is just a list of suggestions! If you have any questions, please let me know!

Personal Items...

  • Prescription medications and Simple first aid supplies.
  • Toiletry items (Face cloths are non-existent in Europe) & dental care (tooth pick, floss) – Make sure you pack a towel too! Our host family does not provide towels!
  • Family photos to show new friends
  • Neck pouch for passport (superior to fanny packs or money belts worn on the exterior)
  • Passport and 2 copies of your passport ID page (in separate places in your luggage… just in case!)
  • Emergency contact phone and FAX numbers of family/friends in the US.
  • ATM Card/cash/etc… You can use your ATM cards in all locations to take our the currency in Hungary and Romania. This proves to be a lot easier than taking traveler’s checks!

Working items...

  • Shoes (one sandals or flip-flops, one casual nice, one for muddy work/hiking)
  • One nice, special outfit (for church, airline travel)
  • Daily work and play clothes
  • Romanian weather tends to be warm during this time of year, but we might have cooler mornings. I suggest bringing pants and shorts to work in, plus long sleeve and short sleeve t-shirts.
  • Lightweight waterproof jacket or lined windbreaker/sweat shirt/sweat pants
  • Hat for rain and shine!
  • Work Gloves
  • Sunscreen and sunglasses (maybe even a bathing suit, you never know!)

Travel items...

  • Travel alarm clock, if you like them
  • Folding umbrella
  • Camera, film, extra batteries
  • Games/cards/puzzles/etc
  • An extra set of clothes in your carry-on luggage (just in case!)
  • Bug Repellent for the evenings and sun screen for the days

Posted by gooberkn 10:09 Archived in USA Tagged packing_list habitat_for_humanity Comments (0)

Our Schedule for the Week

There's lots to do while in Romania!

At this point, you might be wondering what our week will look like. Well here you go!

On Saturday afternoon, everyone will arrive at Botel Fortuna. I'll probably be hanging out on the deck awaiting your arrival. I'll leave a note for you at the front desk if I am not around. We will plan to meet up as a team in the lobby area for dinner around 7:30 - a late dinner - but it will give folks a chance to settle in and shower after the long day of traveling.

For Saturday night's dinner -- please bring something small with you to share with the group - this will be something to introduce yourself to the team. It can be a photo, a small item, anything. We'll go around the table at dinner and share our items.

On Sunday morning, you will have some free time to explore Budapest. We will leave for Beius around 11:00 or 12:00pm. The ride to Beius will take about 5-6 hours depending on traffic. We'll be traveling by mini coach bus/van type of vehicle. We'll stop along the way for lunch. We'll arrive in Beius in the evening, get settled in our rooms and head to the restaurant for dinner. You will get a chance to meet Emil, the volunteer coordinator at Habitat, and you'll get a quick introduction to the week.

On Monday morning, we wake up bright and early and head to the restaurant for breakfast - it's a mixture of egg dishes, yogurt and granola, and probably some fresh fruit. Then we will head to our work site and they will give us another orientation. You'll meet everyone from the Habitat affiliate and probably a few of the homeowners that might be on site that day. I'm not sure what exact tasks we will be doing yet - or what stage the house is on - we'll find out when it gets closer. We'll work until lunch (with a mini coffee break in the morning) and then head back to the restaurant for a quick bite to eat. Lunch will usually be make your own sandwiches and soups, maybe some salads. It's family buffet style. Then back to the worksite for more building! We'll end around 4pm and head back to our house to shower and enjoy the evening. We'll have a quick team meeting and go to dinner together but then the rest of the evening is yours.

The rest of the week will be very similar to Monday. We will have a few "cultural events" throughout the week. For example, we might visit one of the orphanages in town or go to the bear caves one evening. We'll take a tour of "Habitat" and you can see the office, previous houses, different types of builds, etc. The town of Beius is beautiful. There's a coffee shop, several other outside restaurants to catch a soccer game on tv, and plenty of places to go for a nice walk or run.

On Saturday, we may work a half day (or may not - depending on their schedule) and then have a full day of sight-seeing adventures in Romania. You will get to see why I love coming back to Romania every summer. Then on Sunday morning we will pack our bags and leave after breakfast for Budapest. We'll check into our hotel in the Castle District and then I have a special evening surprise/final dinner celebration that evening. You will love it! And then we say goodbye.

And that's our week! I've attached a few pictures from Budapest to get you excited about the trip!

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Posted by gooberkn 11:37 Archived in USA Comments (2)

Who's on our team this year?

Let's get to know the team before we meet in Budapest

Here's a look at our amazing team that will be building houses in Beius this summer!

Katie Boland is a high school history teacher at Trumbull High School. I have been an avid volunteer with Habitat for Humanity since my high school days when I helped build my first house in Bridgeport, Connecticut with Habitat for Humanity of Coastal Fairfield County. Since then I have led numerous Collegiate Challenge and Global Village trips and I look forward to showing you all why I love Romania. Besides volunteering with Habitat, I also enjoy running (training for my 1st half marathon this spring) and I am an avid history buff (early American history is my favorite time period). I advise two groups at my high school -- my Model UN team is one of the top 100 teams in the country and my We the People team just placed 8th in the nation at the Nationals this past weekend! I'm so proud of all of my students :) However, I can't wait for the summer and to meet you all in Budapest!

Hello! I am Christina Chiocchi and I'm an 18 year old from Santa Cruz, CA area. I am currently a senior at Los Gatos High School, and plan on going to UC Santa Barbara in the fall with a major of Communications and Technology Management. A few things about me… I love running, biking, reading, music, the beach, cooking, traveling, photography, and movies. I am a fun loving, outgoing person and love meeting new people. I chose the Romania Habitat trip because I wanted to do something memorable and meaningful this summer; instead of going on a "senior trip" I figured this was a much more worthy recipient of my time and money. I look forward to meeting all of you in August!

My name is Judy Drown. I was born and raised in Colorado but have lived all my adult life in Nebraska. I have 2 grown children and 5 grandchildren. I am a mostly retired Registered Nurse. I have been involved in Habitat for Humanity for 20+ years, but have been much more active in the passed 5 years. I enjoy all things about the building process and am willing to do anything that needs to be done except work on roofs due to vertigo. I have been privileged to build in Viet Nam in 2009 and in Haiti in 2012 on Carter Work Projects. There is great satisfaction in being able to assist with building decent housing with new homeowners. I believe we can change the world one step at a time.

Henry Perrin Garsombke (a.k.a. "Perry" or just "Gar") is a retired college professor who builds (and "deconstructs") with Orange County (California) Habitat. He just returned from his first Global Village build in El Salvador, and looks forward to returning to Romania (previous trips were '80, '91 and '92).

Dave & Marie Henry have lived in a rural Massachusetts community for the past 19 yrs. after 25+ yrs. in Anchorage, AK, where we met & married over 44 yrs. ago. Dave is a retired weather forecaster [43 yrs. with NOAA], & I'm a retired RN as of 5 yrs. ago when our second grandchild was born. Dave's main hobby is anything that relates to the computer, whereas I enjoy volunteering with the American Red Cross, Special Olympics, American Cancer Assn., & the American Lung Assn., &, of course Habitat for Humanity International. We both enjoy hiking, biking, camping, gardening, movies, music, & traveling. We have 3 children [2 boys, 1 girl], a grandson & granddaughter, all of whom live on the West Coast [Oregon & Wash.] where we eventually plan to relocate. This will be my 12th Global Village, & Dave has shared 2 of them with me [NZ & India]. Our daughter also did Costa Rica with me a few years ago. This will be our oldest son Mike's first Habitat experience. We're anticipating & looking forward to a wonderful family adventure in Romania as we work with a great team, meet great people, & try to make a difference in the world of one Romanian family by helping them have a decent, affordable home to live in. God bless us all!

Hi, my name is Mike Henry. I'm 42 and work as a software developer in Liberty Lake, Washington. Aside from Canada, I have never visited another nation. I love to travel, however, and I've been looking for a way to volunteer myself to help others, so I'm thinking a Global Village build may offer a fulfilling experience for me. Over the years, my mom has been on several builds herself and has had many good things to say about them, and I'm glad I now have the chance to be a part of one. In fact, both of my parents (Dave and Marie Henry) are accompanying me on this team, so it should be a very special experience for all of us.

Michelle Jaconette: I am a 22-year-old student at the University of California, San Diego and will be graduating in June with a B.A. in Literature/Writing. I am an avid traveler, photographer and writer as well as a blogging enthusiast and sometimes-chef. I will be pursuing a career in education as a future middle school English teacher and will be applying to graduate school in the fall. I first learned about Habitat for Humanity when I was in the 6th grade and I have wanted to participate ever since. The opportunity to go on this trip has come at a pivotal moment in my life where so much is changing and I hope that this experience will serve as a reminder to step outside of my own needs and ground myself in the reality of the world. I chose Romania because I have never been to Eastern Europe before and I'm excited to experience a place that is unfamiliar to me. This will be my first Habitat trip and I can't wait!

Allen Manning: Hello to everyone!!! I am a military retiree who currently resides in a small Indiana town situated on the banks of the Ohio River in between Louisville, KY and Cincinnati OH. After retiring, I decided to forgo the daily work grind and volunteer in my community in several ways. I drive veterans to medical appointments to the Louisville VA Hospital (about 50 miles away) at least once week; help in a local food pantry a couple times a month; serve as a Court Appointed Special Advocate/Guardian ad Litem for neglected and abused children and I enjoy restoring lost and forgotten cemeteries and rediscovering lost lives. I help other's discover their genealogical roots and relish sleuthing and the frustration that comes with it as my late night hobby. Other time fillers include serving on the board of a couple of non-profits and holding elected officer positions in a couple of veterans organizations. I have had the great fortune of travelling to all fifty states and over thirty countries and always look forward to new experiences, new epicurean delights and meeting wonderful people. My most recent international foray was a Global Village trip to Trinidad in 2012. I'm looking forward to traveling to Romania and doing good things for others and getting to know each of you. As for special home building talents, I rate at the bottom of the scale, but am always willing to learn, get dirty and have lots of fun. In Trinidad, I dug a mean septic tank hole...with the help of many others!

Bonnie Mumm: I retired from the University of Nebraska at Kearney in 2011 after 26 years as the Administrative Assistant to the Vice Chancellor for Business and Finance. Loved being involved with all the different administrative areas of University life. Now I enjoy traveling, gourd crafts, sewing and visiting kids and grandkids. After my husband became involved with HFHI, I started working with the group and have been a board member and secretary and am currently still the hospitality chairman, planning dedications and coordinating hostesses for and stocking our food shack for Saturday builds. We love to travel and learn about our world and its people, so I am excited to experience my first international build with HFHI.

Ken Mumm: I am a retired educator of 41 years. I taught English to 8th graders to seniors for 10 years. Then, I became an assistant principal at a junior high school which we converted to a middle school. I became an early adolescent advocate. I was an assistant principal for 23 years. I then taught at our local university in the Teacher Education department for 8 years. I've been an active Habitat volunteer in our hometown, Kearney, NE for 12 years. I was a board member for six years, president for two. Our affiliate has built 64 homes in 21 years. In 2009, 12 Kearney volunteers joined the Jimmy & Roslynn Carter build in the Mekong Delta. We were assigned Vietnam and truly felt the passion involved in helping really poor people build a HOME, that by our standards, wasn't much of a home. That changed my world view and I want to expand that view by helping in Beius.

Kay Payne: I grew up on a sandhills cattle ranch and became a high school French teacher. After obtaining my graduate degree, I directed a Small Business Development Center for 13 years and then a market research center for 10 years, both at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. I'm now retired and enjoy playing in a hand bell choir, volunteering in a grade school's reading program, having entertaining discussions at book club, taking pottery and yoga classes, doing crossword puzzles, and working at our local Habitat for Humanity. My husband, Rodger Payne, and I have traveled to several Car-a-vanner builds, a couple of international builds and have led mission trips through our local church. We have a daughter and a grandson who live in Boston. We'll be grandparents again in early September.

Rodger Payne: I am a retired science teacher (32 1/2 yrs.), a native of Nebraska and a Kiwanian (2 years). My wife and I have been involved with Habitat in Kearney since 1992 and we have worked in two foreign countries and at care-a-van builds in several states.

Posted by gooberkn 18:15 Archived in USA Tagged romania habitat habitat_for_humanity hfh Comments (0)

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