Saturday, November 9, 2013

Well worth a visit: Brasov, Bran and Sinaia.

Braşov ("Brash-ov") was our intro to Romania a few weeks ago. We rolled into town early in the morning, having survived our overnight train from Budapest with no losses other than sleep, while the fog hovered in the trees and everything looked all Sleepy Hollow and mysterious.

The fog lifted and it turned into a beautiful day so after checking in to the hostel we fought the urge for a nap and instead, took a hike up Mount Tampa to "Brasov's Hollywood" sign.

still don't know why they have this
Rasnov has one as well
wonder which one came first

The next few days showed that this town was just what we needed after five days in Budapest. Tons of comfortable green space, quiet and clean city streets, subtle historical fortresses, old men playing chess in the park, a wonderful outdoor produce market...

leaf-lined paths...

"Central Park", where we sat for a few hours...

Strada Sforii
Europe's narrowest street
or is it?...

We did no free walking tours, we did not seek out Romania's finest cuisine, we visited no museums, we happened upon tourist attractions like the Black Church accidentally instead of on purpose.

It was just what we needed.

We did get up to Bran one day to check out the castle. Despite the myths it's not really connected to Vlad the Impaler, but the castle itself was really fun to explore and we ended up staying longer than we expected. So many nooks and crannies, comfortable rooms, and beautiful ceramic fireplaces!

Patrick wants one

Lots more pictures start here.

We didn't do any real hiking in the Carpathians while we were in Brasov. We also didn't get to see Sibiu's cobblestone streets and pastel-colored houses or Sighisoara's secret passageways. Next time for sure. But while we were in Bucharest we managed a day trip to nearby Sinaia ("Sin-aye-ah") for a little hiking. Best idea we had all weekend! Open air, gorgeous hills, hardly any people on the trails.

our lunch
(Jen couldn't wait)

not our lunch

One of the few hikers we encountered was an older Romanian gentleman leading a group of tourists up the mountain. After learning we were from Oregon, he asked a question many other Romanians have posed to us - "All the way from the United States? Why did you come to Romania?" We motioned to the beautiful scenery and replied, "This is why."

(He then asked if we worked for Chevron; we said no and commiserated about their evil imperialism.)

Food notes: nothing of note, really, except this delicious pastry we ran across in Brasov and devoured.

we later learned that Gigi's was a chain

Lodging notes: Kismet Dao in Brasov was AMAZING. Super clean, really friendly staff, great location, a free drink a day (beer or coke or whatever), space to find a little peace and quiet, posters with Buddhist sayings and thoughtful poems throughout the hostel, and the best cereal selection for breakfast that we've seen yet.

Romania has been a memorable experience. We got a little taste of everything and we felt more welcome and comfortable here than most of the other Central European countries we have visited. We are so glad we came, and we hope to come back someday closer to shoulder season and rent a car for more hiking and exploration. In the meantime - you should visit!

Next stop... culture shock and crowded streets in Istanbul. Deep breath, here we go!


  1. i am also looking forward to Turkey this month

    1. He's here all week, folks! Try the chicken and tip your waiter.