A Travellerspoint blog

Sighisoara, Romania

sunny

Got up early, had breakfast, and spent some time on the internet before I had to take a taxi to the train station for my trip to Sighisoara which took about two hours.

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I didn't have a reservation but got a taxi to the Old Town and got a room at the Pension Schneiderturm which is in a building dating back to 1797 and is located right next to the main gateway to the citadel.

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I spent the next hour walking around this hilltop fortress town which is a gorgeous jumble of cobbled streets lined with medieval houses and towers.

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Vlad Tepes (aka Count Dracula) was born here in 1431 in the house in the shadow of the clock tower. Today his birthplace contains a restaurant.

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You can find lots of tacky Dracula souvenirs.

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Later I walked to the lower town and had Transylvanian goulash with maize porridge.

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Posted by lcostet 13:54 Archived in Romania Tagged romania sighi┼čoara transylvania

Sibiu, Romania

sunny

Got an early breakfast, checked out of my hotel in Brasov, and made my way to the bus stop, and got on the local bus to the bus station where I got a minibus to Sibiu that took about two hours. I walked to the Old Town which is made up of three conjoined squares - Piata Mare, Piata Mica, and Piata Huet. I had just entered the Old Town when I heard someone call out, "Hey, American." I turned around and to my surprise it was the father and son from Chicago who I had met in Bucharest. We talked briefly and then I kept on looking for my pension, finally asking a group of policemen, and one of them was nice enough to walk me to where it was on Piata Mica. The man in the reception took me to my room, and I couldn't believe what I saw when he opened the door. I have had some beautiful rooms, but I have never had an antique grand piano in my room before.

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I freshened up, and then spent the next few hours walking around Sibiu. A typical Saxon town in Transylvania, the medieval squares are surrounded by stone-walled fortifications. Many of the houses are painted blue, red, apricot, and green. There are narrow alleys, courtyards, churches, and cobblestone streets. Sibiu is known to Germans as Hermannstadt and it remains home to Romania's largest German-speaking community.

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After walking for quite awhile, I stopped at a cafe and had a Romanian beer.

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A couple of hours later I had a delicious meal at Crama Sibiul Vechi, which occupies a 15th-century cellar and serves authentic Transylvanian food.

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Posted by lcostet 12:53 Archived in Romania Tagged romania transylvania sibiu

Brasov, Romania Day 2

sunny

Today I had breakfast and walked to the bus station and got a bus to the small town of Bran to see probably the best known attraction in Romania, Bran Castle. Contrary to most people's belief that it is Dracula's Castle, the truth is that the castle was originally built as a defensive fortress, and later Queen Marie of Romania lived there. It is believed that Vlad Tepes (Dracula) may have passed through at some point, but the castle does not look like a vampire count's residence. It actually was a little disappointing as castles go. It's filled with spiral stairs and cosy rooms, and didn't take more than a half hour to go through. The town really thrives on the whole tourist thing with lots of stalls selling Dracula souvenirs.

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Then I got the bus to Rasnov and walked my legs off uphill to Rasnov fortress, a ruined fort that sits atop a hill overlooking the town. The final leg of the journey up to the fortress, a tractor pulls you up in a small train. I walked back to the bus stop and got back to Brasnov. Got some salad and pasta to go and went back to my room.

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Posted by lcostet 14:51 Archived in Romania Tagged romania transylvania rasnov bran

Brasov, Romania

sunny

Got up early, had some breakfast, and took a taxi to the train station where I got a ticket to Brasov. The ride was only about an hour and after we arrived, I took the local bus to Brasov's historic center known as Piata Sfatului. Luckily I happened to notice someone validating his ticket in the little machine on the bus, and I had remembered that you must validate your ticket because men get on the buses at the stops, whip out their badges, and check your tickets. If your ticket is not validated, they will fine you. Sure enough, a ticket checker got on the next stop and checked my validated ticket. When the bus arrived at my stop, I got off and headed to my hotel. I got to the square and found Casa Wagner where I was staying. The room wasn't ready yet but they allowed me to bring up my luggage, and the maids made up the room.

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After getting situated, I went into the square which looked so typically European with the red-tiled merchants' houses surrounding the square, and a beautiful council house in the middle. It was a beautiful sunny day, so I did what everyone else was doing, and had a frappucino at the outdoor cafe. The council house clock bells chimed and I soaked in the atmosphere.

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Then I began my sightseeing of Brasov. I walked to Piata Teatrului where in a small park stand headstones, memorials to those who were gunned down during December 1989.

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Across the street is the Volksbank building which clearly has bullet holes still visible surrounded by a commemorative plaque.

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I walked down the pedestrian only Str. Republicii lined with cafes and shops.

Then I entered the town's most famous landmark, the Biserica Neagra, supposedly the largest Gothic church between Vienna and Istanbul. On one of the pillars you can see four bullet holes, left by shots fired through the door as people cowered inside during the fighting in 1989.

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Then I walked down through the Schei quarter where the Romanian-speaking people were forced to live during the rule of the Saxons. The main sight is the Church of St Nicholas.

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I headed back to the main square, got a pizza to go, and went back to my room.

Posted by lcostet 20:46 Archived in Romania Tagged romania brasov

Sinaia, Romania

sunny

Got up early to get the train to Sinaia. Rather than eat the breakfast buffet, the restaurant packed a to go lunch for me and I got a taxi to Gara de Nord. They assured me at the hotel that the taxi driver would turn his meter on, but as soon as I got in the taxi and asked about the meter, he said it would be only 10 lei, about three Euro...as if to say you can't afford that? I expected that once we got to the train station he would hit me up for more money, but I made sure that I had my luggage and a 10 lei in hand, handed it to him, and bought my ticket to Sinaia. I was a little nervous in the train station. You could tell there were people there who had no intention on taking a train. A father and son from Chicago who had been on the same tour at the Palace of Parliament noticed me and came over and we talked for awhile. They thought I was very brave to be traveling by myself for six weeks in Eastern Europe. After about an hour it was time to board the train. I sat across from a young couple who were also headed to Sinaia. The train was full and the young man helped me get my luggage on the overhead rack, and he insisted on helping me up the stairs at the station. I ate my lunch on the train and enjoyed the fall scenery in rural Romania.

Once in Sinaia, I got a taxi right away, and the driver knew where my guesthouse was located. When I arrived I didn't waste anytime to head to Peles Castle. It was quite a strenuous walk uphill for about 45 minutes, but the area in the Prahova Valley at the foot of the Bucegi Mountains is beautiful and it was a sunny and warm day. I purchased a ticket for the full 2 hour tour and it was quite chaotic waiting in line for the English tour as it was very crowded. When we finally got in, we had to wear slippers over our shoes. I have seen alot of castles, but this magnificent castle is very impressive. It was the summer residence of the first King Carol I.

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After the tour, I mistakenly took the long route to the Sinaia Monastery. By that time, I had probably walked about six to eight miles all up and down hills, and my legs were worn out.

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Then I got a taxi and headed up the hill to the Taverna Sarbului for salad, chicken schnitzel, and french fries. After dinner I got a taxi to my room.

Posted by lcostet 08:14 Archived in Romania

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