Hauntings and Romanticism in Unexpected Corners of Romania

John Lett (About) (Sessions) (tarotworldtour YouTube)

To get a strong feel for the country, I selected images that should rouse some kind of feeling if you expand them.

I went to Romania expecting Transylvania to be the place with the strongest psychic forces jumping on any stray electric spark they could harness to this world but instead the region that really held the most strange energy was Moldavia in northeastern Romania. I did not allow for an appropriate amount of time for this region because Romania is slow and cumbersome to cross and I was not aware of the uniqueness of the region but in the future I would spend more time there. I am not entirely sure of if the other world activity is positive – there was sort of a heaviness to the prayers and energy of the Orthodox churches here and in my opinion people overdo their crossing themselves here and in the region nearest Romania in Ukraine.

As I heard and saw people praying intensely (final image in sequence), I felt something very severe and as though they were inviting evil rather than repelling it. I wished to intervene but you cannot do this as a visitor in a country especially.

Suceava, Romania was the main entry point and then I stopped in Piatra-Neamt, which was a rough town but the gateway to the Carpathians and quite authentic. Lots of wild dogs were there including two that jumped out of the brush and wanted me to take them. Apparently there are still not animal rescue and shelter operations in place.

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Over Brasov in Transylvania.

I was very struck by the generosity and efforts to help of people throughout the country, but particularly in the center and western areas. Unfortunately, I did not make it to the capital Bucharest yet, but did manage to make some wonderful friends from there and plan to return.

Piatra Neamț was where the dogs popped out of the brush. The railroad tracks were probably one my favorite scenes of a months-long trip.

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This was a mountain divide with some local summer and weekend cottages with massive gardens tucked in between. These properties would surely sustain Romania in a time of energy crisis and I often joke that the grandmothers of Eastern Europe will save humanity from extinction one day.

Mostly Transylvania and a bit of a Suceava monastery at the top. I was impressed by the monastery having solar panels. I also did do the requisite Vlad the Impaler tour stops but felt nothing there and a lot of it really diluted by exaggerated commercialization. 

I recommend Romania as a place to feel an energy that is quite different from other places – very mysterious and heavy. The people are potentially the most hospitable as a collective that I have ever encountered and you will make meaningful friendships there. I did not get to see it personally because the locations are rather remote, but a growing number of do-it-yourself western Europeans are settling in some areas that are felt to be bargains (many places in the vicinity of €30,000 can be found).

John Lett (About) (Sessions) (tarotworldtour YouTube)

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Pausing in Ljubljana, Slovenia

John Lett (About) (Sessions) (tarotworldtour YouTube)

Ljubljana, Slovenia is hopefully the penultimate stop from my travels though my base may be moving. Slovenia is a deep, intense research trip and the beauty of the people, architecture, and landscape has been a nice diversion from the agenda-driven nature of the trip.

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I am staying in a hostel that is normally a special needs residential school. I’m taking liberties here from what I was told but it is maintained by a doctor and I sense that he introduced the hostel idea for summers. Some of the students or clients are able to work here. You can see the beautiful views from the windows. I was exhausted and hid in my room a bit because I wanted to make sure my energy was right in case anyone was here and sure enough as soon as I was going down the stairs I was hit by a group and their facilitator translated all these suggestions they rapidly gave off enthusiastically for what to do here. One must be ready to give a platform when someone has something to tell like this.

Strangely when I was converting money to euros for here the first coin was minted in Slovenia and the doctor’s name bears a strong resemblance to mine. At the reception sat a Spanish girl who was at the last hostel in Croatia that I regretted not being able to speak to more so it is very coincidental she is here. We got to visit and will hang out before she leaves. We all had quite the discussion how the special needs population for lack of a better term, and particularly those on the autism spectrum, are actually more evolved gifts to humanity.

Please enjoy these images of a low-profile but treasured city.

John Lett (About) (Sessions) (tarotworldtour YouTube)

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A Few Romantic Images from Zagreb, Croatia

John Lett (About) (Sessions) (tarotworldtour YouTube)

Night views often reveals the most romantic and idea-generating scenes that connect us with our elusive past. These are some images from a very hot July evening in Zagreb, Croatia. This is a relatively inexpensive city that acts as a gateway to the Balkans.

 

John Lett (About) (Sessions) (tarotworldtour YouTube)

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A Low Cost, Picturesque Creative Re-launching Pad: Chernivtsi, Ukraine

John Lett (About) (Sessions) (tarotworldtour YouTube)

Chernivtsi, Ukraine is a city that I meant to pass through purely as a cost-saving measure en route to Romania but it has turned out to be an intensely spiritually charged location with very high vibrations. Wherever the Austro-Hungarian empire went, beautiful architecture resulted and administrations of various nations have all painstakingly restored or enhanced what was made.

I will let the beauty of this place speak for itself. Should you wish to know some specifics of how inexpensive this and some other spots are, I am beginning some processes for travel advising for nominal fees. It’s all about your individual needs along the lines of how much time you have and what your objectives are, but in general if you can stay away longer, that is where the real savings start to accelerate. You can use places like this to get inspired, stay off the radar, and produce your life’s work in relative peace.

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John Lett (About) (Sessions) (tarotworldtour YouTube)

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17 Quick Discoveries in Ukraine

John Lett (About) (Sessions) (tarotworldtour YouTube)

I have been visiting Ukraine for the last several days, first in Lviv and now Kiev, and will be finishing out in a small city called Chernivtsi on the way to Romania. Friends and acquaintances have asked me more questions about Ukraine probably than any other country, though I do get a lot of questions about the Nordic countries to do with the social welfare / social democracy states (I can answer one – a Norwegian hostel roommate indicated he is here in Ukraine for dental work since though he says the annual health deductible is only about $140 a year in Norway, this does not include dental, and he is saving thousands of dollars US by getting the work done here). I could go into quite extensive research on what I’m seeing and to try to get it more authenticated, but instead I will include some quick things that I have verified with multiple people but not done extensive research on.

  1. Whistling is considered bad luck. It is meant to only be back luck in an indoor setting but even today I saw people very unhappy when someone was doing this. The superstition is that people or the institution around the whistling are going to lose a lot of money.
  2. The national pension scheme or disability starts at 1,074 hryvnia per month, or about $41USD/£32/€36. You can imagine what kind of battle one would have against inflation, even if it is very cheap here. (Government social protection website)
  3. Most hostels are between $4/£3.25/€3.70 and $9 a night, the latter often just being a higher rate for the weekend. You can see hostelworld.com or booking.com to see rates as low as 90 hryvnia per night, or still less than $4USD.
  4. Ukrainian and Russian are both spoken, and in general Ukrainian becomes more dominant the further west you go. English is increasingly spoken and there are major efforts to push it since tourism is now more open.
  5. Check your own country’s relationship with Ukraine for the visa programs, but in the US, right now there is an automatic 90-day visa granted at the border, a program that just began early in 2017. If you are reading this after 2017, this could change at any time and one should always check immediately before entering.
  6. The war is to the east and south and these areas should be avoided. I did see a report that Ukraine is supposedly the 9th most dangerous country in the world and Kiev the most dangerous city in Europe but in a week I have never felt in danger – just kind of cumbersome experiences dealing with the language barrier and differences in process – essentially what western people would consider inefficiencies.
  7. There is a fair bit of sex tourism going on. I think this has been the case for a long time and personally I find it pretty repugnant. It is not on par with say, Thailand, but more than western Europe. If you have dating applications such as Tinder you’ll find as a heterosexual male that the response rate from local women is extremely high compared to other countries. The reasons for this are probably numerous – a friendly culture, locals wanting more international contacts, an opening of the marketplace, a perception of wealth of western people, a desire to work in western Europe in higher paying countries, and so on. If you are Ukrainian and reading this and disagree, feel free to add your reasons below.
  8. In the places I’ve stayed, except when there were other Ukrainians staying for local festivals, among the international visitors, I would estimate that they have been 70-75% male. I would estimate that this is a combination of a higher risk tolerance for this kind of travel and perhaps principally related to dating and sex prospects. Remember if you’re here for romantic purposes, you’d better be respectful and not throw around your money or objectify other people.
  9. I would strongly advise keeping political views to yourself at least until you can
    20170627_224330

    Biometric passports are relatively new here. You will see a lot of advertising and propaganda promoting them for visa-free travel to the EU. It is likely an added source of friction with Russia. They cost something under $40USD. Note the EU flag and stars implied in the background. It is not ironic to me that the promotional information calls it a “visa-free regime.”

    assess the dynamics at play with people that you are speaking to. I see a number of people who think they’re not being offensive but who have crossed some line, or at least created that perception. There are Ukrainian nationalists, Russian-speaking Ukrainians with mixed feelings, and all kinds of factions that you cannot always see or understand as a visitor.

  10. Unless you’re really going for top dining, you probably won’t exceed spending 250 hryvnia on food and drink in a day if you’re going to humble, modest establishments. A latte is between 17-31 hryvnia for instance (approximately 65 cents-$1.20/50-90p/60 cents-€1) and I typically can eat a few items for a meal for 100 hryvnia. A girl from New Zealand I met spent about €11 for a rather extensive Georgian meal that included beer and sides in Kiev.
  11. The buses and trams I have seen in cities are from 2 to 6 hryvnia, or less than 25 cents US.

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    These notes are worth 4 cents, 8 cents, and 21 cents USD respectively.

  12. Be very reverent, calm, and quiet around churches. This is a deeply religious country. I have never seen people cross themselves so frequently. All the same, some contacts have told me that in moments of desperation the superstitions of the population make many people seek psychics, the occult, and other magicians for solutions.
  13. I think this is rather quiet society, so for respect and to not put yourself at risk, I advise speaking quietly and not drawing attention to yourself.
  14. The people seem to very much appreciate visitors and want to be helpful, to a much stronger degree than I have seen many places. I have done my best to show gratitude and smile a great deal – in my opinion they need this in unstable times.
  15. A lot of what is reported to the west is distorted or exaggerated, though there are
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    Older women who were both severely disabled singing traditional songs. Most of the people walking by handed them some small value notes because the songs and their situation was so compelling. If they worked in rural areas and lived through Soviet times (the latter for sure), their disability pensions may only be $41 a month.

    some serious problems here and a war where people are still dying and territories essentially off-limits or not governed by Ukraine. Over the last few days, there was a large-scale cyber attack, but the Ukrainians I talked to did not know about it, in spite of western media indicating that the country was “crippled” (Newsweek, Popular Mechanics). Finally when talking to one local, she said that they have been through so much worse that it was not really an issue.

  16. As with anywhere, I recommend having a smartphone and taking screenshots or pictures of any accommodations, tickets, or bookings of any kind that are important. On the train, I was told that the official for each car would take the printed ticket and give it back at the journey. I took a picture of the ticket and sure enough, twice, the same lady operating guest services on my car asked for it, and I showed her the picture of the ticket since she did not think she had it.
  17. The internet is excellent almost everywhere but locals say not to drink the tap water.

I cannot idealize the situation here or tell you to come packing to visit immediately but so far I am pleased to have visited and it has been a very friendly country both in interpersonal relations and for budget purposes. Should you run out of days on your 90 days in Schengen, Lviv in particular in the west might be a good place to regroup.

Show every place you visit exemplary behavior and make your country the model of impeccable manners to put all around you at ease and to show your gratitude.

John Lett (About) (Sessions) (tarotworldtour YouTube)

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Miles of Tree Pictures – Grounding Yourself

John Lett (About) (Sessions) (tarotworldtour YouTube)

My smartphone is completely packed with nature pictures from the last three years and I’ve not been able to really cobble together a cohesive story or subject to use the ones focusing on trees in particular. The reason for that I now know is there they cannot be used in a task-oriented way like so many other elements of our lives – they are totally free from that and serve as a reminder that we need to be free from that more often as well.

When I went to graduate school at the University of British Columbia, I often walked to a rose garden that faced the Georgia Strait and the mountains to the north to remind me that this is reality, not what I had to answer to with my papers, presentations, and administration. The images hail from Kansas, California, British Columbia, and Estonia:

I leave you with a favorite, a definite human engineered spot, but one that still can inspire of a balance of how old power structures become open gifts to the public years later – Charlottenburg, Berlin, Germany, where I am currently enjoying some creative space:

John Lett (About) (Sessions) (tarotworldtour YouTube)

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When a Deal Collapses

John Lett (About) (Sessions) (tarotworldtour YouTube) 20170528_222132

As I write this, Theresa May in the UK will in a couple of hours go to Buckingham Palace to request forming a government. If all that is happening on the surface is true, her government’s plan was to hold a snap election and to widen support to get Brexit initiated under a more supportive and stable atmosphere. A few terrorist attacks in and a more bold manifesto from Labor cut this short in a matter of weeks and now a more shaky coalition may come together.

I see some parallels with this and my own life and something to consider carefully is when you decide your own wishes and logic should supersede those of others. There are so many variables that can be unforeseen and can impact a deal but the repeated problem here is too many people, myself included, assuming inevitability because they are not really listening to other people. The result has been all of us trying to cobble together some kind of new “coalition” of sorts all the time both at the organizational and personal levels. I believe that because there is so much uncertainty in the marketplace and not a lot of a solid, long-term vision for anything, this capital-starved environment is forcing us all to behave this way.

Now more than ever is a time to conserve resources and deploy them in very deliberate ways. Set small, more achievable goals and keep everything above board and honest (the latter of which we must do all the time anyway) and then as your smaller achievements materialize and give a strong foundation, you’ll be better equipped to scale up and increase success by adding to what is already in place.

If a deal collapses, go back to the most basic, simple formula that has worked for you in order to restore confidence to yourself, your organization, or in the marketplace. Keep a calm demeanor, itemize your achievements, and remind yourself of what your long-term vision is (not what is contingent upon one deal – if everything rests on one deal, that is not the best vision anyway). If there is really no hope of any kind of revitalization or there is some public failure component to the situation, the emphasis shifts to going around and delivering genuine thank-yous to all participants and partners. The range of expression for this depends on the context of the situation – it is up to you whether partners should be named publicly or if these thanks should be private in the event that there is some kind of tainting of their name in the collapsing situation. Stop to think of every kind of scenario of what reconfigured power may be in the future so that no one is offended or left out who could be an asset to a stronger future.

I do hope that the press is kind to Theresa May because while she did assume office in the Brexit era, she was against Brexit before becoming Prime Minister and appears to be someone who applies herself very diligently and without major ego problems.

John Lett (About) (Sessions) (tarotworldtour YouTube

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