Ice Hotel – Balea Lake

While on my “winter vacation” I went to visit the Ice Hotel on top of the Fagaras mountains. After a long drive and a seemingly unending ride on an ancient cable-cart, I finally got to the top. It was a warm and foggy afternoon with -15 C. Balea Lake Ice Hotel has become quite a tradition since its first season, several years ago. Since then it has grown and can now accommodate almost 30 daredevils.

Unfortunately for them, the weather this year did not allow for a fast build, so they were still working on some finishing touches on one of the rooms. I had a chance to chat with the ice carvers. They were from a small and forgotten town nearby, Agnita.

Since I visited their home town on one of my bike trips, we soon had a starting point. Apparently they were 3rd generation carvers. One of them even had a booklet with all the stuff he has done. They admit, the usual tool of trade is wood, but they say ice is just as good – even better at times.

Amazingly, even though the temperature outside was close to what most people would call “Hell freezing over”, the inside of the hotel was quite warm and cozy. And after a couple of shots of Jaeger – on the rocks (i.e. in a ice-glass) the cold was all gone.

When i did finally go out, the fog had lifted just enough for me to notice some shapes on what usually is the glacial lake. when I got closer I noticed a familiar face – it was one of the carvers. They were cutting Ice away and preparing it with amazing ease. It looked a lot like  Lego… just cooler.

It was a well-oiled machine. One guy was cutting away at the ice with a super sized chainsaw, another was pulling the chunks apart and then came the trio with the sledge, who pulled the huge building block right out of water. they kept going till the hole in the water got three times bigger than when i got there.

No problem – they said, it’ll freeze back in three days…

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