If you would have to choose, red carpet or lavender fields, your choice would be… but before you answer, let’s see what’s all about on this week’s Thursday Doors.
One of the last places where I would like to be photographed is on my way to the ladies restroom, the toilet, the loo, the john, the privy, the outhouse… Yet there is such a place in Romania, although the flashes coming on as one would stroll along don’t take actual pictures. It is the Park Lake Mall in Bucharest.
With the Oscars around the corner, here’s how it might feel walking down the red carpet:
Are you sure you are dressed up for the occasion? Left or right…
If the red carpet is not your thing, then a field of French lavender, and this way’s to the Ladies room, past the French bistro.
The upside down toilet is all about decor, you have to take my word for it 🙂
And you may hold onto the wall as you make your way.
See? All is well inside.
Oh, and before you leave the mall, do remember where you parked your car 🙂
Public toilets are never my favorite spot – whose are ? – but this place will always be remembered as an adventure 🙂
Now, I do owe you some doors, so here is the entrance to the Nazareth House in Pretoria, an NGO living facility for old people. My daughter’s high-school choir used to hold their annual concerts there 🙂
Nazareth House opened on the 26th of October 1952. The first Sisters of Nazareth arrived in South Africa in 1881 at the invitation of the Bishop of Cape Town. Their mission was to care for indigent elderly and orphaned children.
Doors are often seen as a place of transition, as well as an opportunity for good or evil forces to enter or leave, hence doorways are often guarded, as you can see in the images above.
Shh, choir practice 🙂
The door below, this one’s seen as a right of passage… you have to be a soprano or an alto, a tenor or a bass to walk through this door 🙂
I have fond memories of this place. The chapel is spacious, without being large, and it would always fill to capacity during the annual choir concert. Seated on long, wooden benches we would tighten the rows to make space for a late arrival. There was a feeling of togetherness. I wonder if it will prevail after all the space the Covid-19 Pandemic will leave behind.
Thursday Doors is a blog feature everyone can take part in, hosted by Dan Antion over at No Facilities– where you can discover more doors from around the world.
Welcome to Ferris Wheel, my week’s response to the image prompt of Fiction in a Flash Challenge 2021, week 39, as initiated by Author Suzanne Burke.
The Ferris Wheel
The man with the felt hat liked the park because its tangled alleys – bordered by old trees that saw as many sunsets as he did – made him feel like a ship wandering the seven seas. He would come here whenever he caught an opportunity, sometimes as often as every second month – he was an optimist – for the man with the felt hat had a job, a job he once enjoyed, like a fisherman reeling in the big catch of the day. Now he was more like a fish in a net… so to say. To keep up with the nautical theme, he smiled.
But not today. Today he was a ship choosing its course across seas he knew too well. A ship with a set compass.
Left at the newsstand, then the first alley left again stood the tree where he’d last seen the Bishop. Ah, to spot its red head profiled against the crisp winter sky again!
She’d draw him in his nest, the woman who sometimes sat on the bench across from his. She’d been lucky to spot him in his nest long enough to sketch him. Quite the artist she was. A natural talent. A natural beauty too, her alabaster profile against the clear blue sky. If he’ll only see it again.
‘He’s got himself a pair, you know,’ she spoke as he walked past her bench.
‘The Bishop?’ he asked like it was the most natural thing in the world for two strangers to engage in conversation about a bird.
She nodded, forcing him to turn his head back from the bare tree and to bend to see her drawing. She turned the sketch pad to show him what she’d been working on.
‘You’ve been away for a while,’ the woman smiled. ‘It was a treat to watch them meet. But I drew them for you, so you won’t miss it.’
‘I do wonder how they see us,’ and he accentuated they with a tip of his head towards the tree. His hand flew up as if he was measuring the height of the arbor. ‘From the height of their branch,’ and his head stood upturned for a moment, smiling at the sun, and at the peaceful life of the little birds.
That’s when his phone rang, like a cloud chilling one to the bone in a flash, in the heat of the day.
She smiled and returned to her drawing, allowing him his privacy.
‘Work,’ he sighed upon his return.
‘And you have to go,’ she said and she tilted her head the way she used to whenever the Bishop would fly away for the day – and she knew the bird-watching was over… ‘Again,’ the slant of her head had added, like a whisper, and he’d heard it.
Was he right in assuming? Should he? At his age? Should he be a Bishop?
‘I wonder,’ he started then stopped as if a blast of wind had frozen the words on his lips.
‘Yes?’ and her eyebrows arched the way they did whenever the Bishop was in sight.
‘The Ferris wheel,’ he waved towards the far end of the park. Last carriage goes up at 17:45. Would you do me the honour and join me? We’d get a Bishop’s glimpse over the world.’
He couldn’t tell her how he knew the schedule. He couldn’t tell her it was his job to know everything, any trivial piece of information, and use it to his advantage.
She smiled but didn’t ask how he knew such details. She smiled brighter than he’d ever seen her smile for the Bishop, and she tilted her head.
Had she agreed?
‘I’ll wait for you at the leg of the Ferris wheel. With two tickets,’ and he lifted his felt hat in salute.
He didn’t count on the crowds, on the rowdy group of teenagers celebrating a birthday. For the first time, he didn’t count on being swept by the crowd inside an open carriage. He was at the top of the wheel before he knew it. The ground squeezed below, too far for him to see clearly with his reading glasses.
Was she there? That speck on the ground, was it she? He boxed the air to reveal his watch. 17:49 and darkness all around.
The lights of the Ferris wheel mocked him, as did the glow of the city.
He was but a fish trapped in a net, a fish who dreamed to be a Bishop for a night.
Hello everyone and welcome to the “Fiction in A Flash Challenge!” Each week Author Suzanne Burke will feature an image and invites everyone to write a Flash Fiction or Non-Fiction piece inspired by that image in any format and genre of your choosing. Maximum word count: 750 words. Suzanne runs a great blog as well as authoring many exciting books. WECOME TO THE WORLD OF SUZANNE BURKE
Let’s travel to Râșnov Fortress, the oldest and best preserved fortified stronghold in Transylvania, Romania, located atop a limestone hill south of Râșnov city, a mere 15 kilometers from Brașov. Râșnov fortress is declared a historical monument. We were lucky to visit it in 2012 – not a typo. 🙂
We made our way through a separate enclosure surrounded by a stone wall of its own. Then we walked some more, always upwards, as the access to the fortress itself is not made directly.
Follow me and let’s use this lion brass door knocker to open a few medieval doors for this week’ Thursday Doors.
We arrived at Rasnov fortress just ahead of sunset. We strolled along narrow, cobbled streets between houses built with stone.
Walls (for defense) were a mandatory commodity for every fortification, and for each community. Water sources (cisterns, springs) were a must, always located inside the fortress (in case of a siege). A greater effort of ensuring a steady fresh water supply for Rasnov fortress was made between 1623 – 1643 when the rock was dug to a depth of 140 meters.
A beautifully preserved home with limestone walls. Slightly modernized 🙂
The fortress was built by the inhabitants of this area. It covers 3,500 square meters.
I wonder if the fortress’ healer lived behind this door:
The villagers waiting outside his door would have enjoyed this view:
The oldest structures that still exist date from the 14th century, like the wall below. Initially here was a simple wooden fortification built by the Teutonic Knights during the 13th century. Its walls are up to five meters high and 1.5 meters wide.
My favorite spot inside Rasnov fortress. It could be a ballroom, don’t you think? With a view deserving of a Queen:
Apart from tall, thick walls made of rock, the builders would have made use of the location’s efficiency, in this case the hill itself, for defense.
Hard to choose. Here’s a picture-perfect view of Rasnov city that I am saying good bye with:
Travel Through Doors and discover the best doors as seen in my 2020 Thursday Doors blog posts. Thursday Doors is a blog feature everyone can take part in, initiated by Norm who later presented the baton to Dan.
Dan has a Badge Idea contest for Thursday Doors running until 11:59 pm Thursday, December 31st (North American Eastern Time). Check his website for rules and maybe give it a try! The last image in this blog post is my entry.
Ans so it began, my journey around Europe (okay, mostly Romania) for Thursday Doors. We first traveled to Brasov, with The Church Door, a (very) short story:
My all time favorite must be this 500 years old door from Corvin Castle who even made it through the great fire of 13 April 1854:
We looked at Corvin Castle’s Coat of Arms too and at two rather grand doors embellished with jambs, tympanum and pinnacles, and at a short history of door knocking – find it all here. And we returned in a second visit here.
Small shrines can often be found in Romania, build so that weary travelers can have a moment of peace, for thought, for prayer, for palliation. This is a shrine from Brasov, before reaching the Black Church as you would stroll down a winding road from Șcheii Brașovului:
The second image above reads: ‘This cross was raised in 1761 by Gh. (Gheorghe) Anania and restored in 1992.’
Our next travel stop was at a monastery built for peace, Snagov Monastery, where we looked at medieval plots and at revenge:
Next we visited Brancoveanu Monastery at Sambata de Sus, a Romanian Orthodox monastery in Brașov County, in the Transylvania region of Romania, renowed for its white-washed walls. At the end of the 17th century Constantin Brâncoveanu, Prince of Wallachia, built a stone church (1688-1714) in place of an older wooden one:
If you wonder how a Wallachian Voievode built a monastery in a different principality, know that the hamlet and the land on which the monastery was built belonged to Preda Brâncoveanu, his grandfather. Who even built a small wooden church on it in 1654.
For a chilling stop we traveled next to Fagaras Castle to see its Iron Maiden, this symbol of medieval violence:
Bran Castle means many things to different people. To me, it is a door to heaven. Legend says that the Doors to Heaven are here, in Bucegi Mountains, near Bran Pass and Ialomița Cave. That is you climb that peak on a clear winter night, you will be welcomed by a meadow underneath a dome of stars. And the doors to Heaven will be revealed to you. You will know it by their starry pillars, and by the energy that will seep into your bones:
This week for Thursday Doors I have included an edited extract from my WIP calling itWinter Story for Thursday Doors. The doors featured here are from Brasov, Romania.
🙂 For Dan’s Thursday Doors blog feature over at No Facilities – do visit and you can participate too by creating your own blog post celebrating a world of doors. 🙂
A Winter Story for Thursday Doors
“The little man shook hands. Left, then right. He introduced himself and bowed in turn, first towards the girl, then towards the boy.
The girl felt a wave of heat spreading over her cheeks and thanked the stars for the hat covering her ears. She stomped her feet and exhaled with force hoping that the steam will remind all that it’s the middle of winter, enough to explain her red face. She’d been so shallow to call the old man ‘a jacket cladding a dwarf’, while all he did was dragging his body along the street, each step a wrestle with the fresh snow.
Yet she hadn’t been that wrong, had she? She lowered her gaze, her eyes sweeping over the woolly coat standing in front of her. It covered everything from above the man’s ears to the ground. Its hem was trimmed with white from having being pushed and pulled along the snow-laden streets, while its collar was lifted and secured in place by a scarf so wide that it covered both nose and mouth. But a pair of smiling eyes met hers – had he seen her studying him? – proof that a human being did live inside that coat. The eyes and the shopping bag on wheels left half a meter behind, in front of an arched red entrance mirroring the one they had tried to gain access to, were her proof of life.
Once again that morning they found themselves in front of a metal gate with an arched top and a small door carved into it. Above it rose a centuries old stone building that offered little protection against the weather to anyone trying to get in.
The small man retrieved a set of keys and began searching for the right one, a slow job given his thick gloves that hid arthritic fingers. Behind him, the boy scanned the names on the building’s door buzzer. Three all together. He did a quick math: two windows per apartment. They must be tiny.
‘Do you know when your neighbors open for business?’ the boy was back and had bent his knees to stoop low near the short man, his voice echoing far in the narrow street. He’d spoken loud on purpose. Aren’t all old men kind of deaf? The girl pushed her hands hard into her pockets and looked at her feet, wishing she could hide in the snow, with her toes.
The little man held up a key, shaking it like a prize. ‘Found it!’ his eyes smiled left, then right.
Ignoring the snowdrift, the boy strode around the old man, aiming for his other ear. ‘Your neighbors,’ he called pointing across the road, and more steam poured from his mouth.
The old man kept smiling and nodding, waving his gloved hand left and right, the tip of the key sticking out like a present.
The boy pressed his hands against his hat and slowly pulled it over his face. The girl turned, her eyes lingering across the road. Her eyes, big like a child’s on Christmas morning when he finds no presents underneath the tree.
The old man made four small steps towards the red gate, then stopped. ‘Come, come,’ he called and his voice, although not loud, carried well. Yet the steam remained behind the scarf, trapped. ‘We’ll have tea, warm up and talk.’ Then he added, in a softer tone, ‘we’ll talk about my neighbors too,’ while his eyes narrowed on the girl, the way a grandfather would to sooth an upset child. And he smiled again, lifting his hand that still squeezed the shiny key, like a prize, while his other hand closed slowly on the handle of his bag on wheels. Yet the bag didn’t yield. The old man shook its handle in distress, as if now he was the child. The wheels held, frozen in the ice masked by fresh snow.
The boy jumped to the rescue and freed the shopping bag pulling it towards the red metal gate, his head tilted, astonished by its unexpected weight. And the girl followed.
The first thing that changed was the snow underfoot. It remained outside the red door as they crossed its threshold. On the other side ancient cobble stones paved the ground and their pattern opened in a half a circle, shaped like the vestibule that welcomed them. Rather large, so large.
As soon as the little door closed behind silence enveloped them, only the muffled echo of their footsteps resonating against the ancient walls. The space, wider than either of the visitors expected, was equally shared by the three families living in the building, as was the small Christmas tree placed in the middle and decorated with hand made paper snowflakes and tin stars.
The ozone rich air, too dry in the icy winter to carry any scents, fell in a strong embrace with the homely scents of Christmas. It smell of pine, and of wood, but above all of vanilla and cinnamon, the warm scents of freshly baked goodies, cozonac, sweet bread, summer’s sunshine trapped in winter.
The small man parked his trolley in what seemed to be his side of the hallway and busied with his bunch of keys again. So many, thought the boy, and only one to open the door to his apartment. The girl remained behind, frozen by the Christmas tree, her attention on one decoration in particular. A hedgehog fashioned out of slender paper cones trimmed with silver foil. A thin string was threaded through each cone pulling them together to shape a hedgehog. Googly eyes and a bead for a nose completed the face. He was white and silver, as if covered by snow.
‘I had one just like this when I was small,’ she said and her words lifted in surprise.
There was the noise of a key turning in the lock again and of a door swinging open. And they all went inside the old man’s home.’