Bucharest, Brasov, Sibiu, Sighisora, Rasnov, Bran, Sinaia
25.10.2007 27 °C
Yes its been bloody ages since i updated this site!
I arrived in Bucharest on the train from Veliko Tarnovo and was relieved to get there as Bulgarian trains are crap! I decided first of all to spend a couple of nights in Bucharest to get the feel for the city, culture and people. Off i went then to find a hostel, and like the sheep iam i followed the recommendation in Lonely Planet. After hunting it out....in the classy location of above a strip joint i spent the first night relaxing and reading. So the first proper day in Bucharest was spent having a look around and my conclusion is.....well.....its alright but nothing special. The good points of the city are that there are loads of cool little churches hidden away behind tower blocks as it was govt policy in the 1980's to surround churches with apartment blocks and factories in order to hide them so the population couldnt visit them. Another good point is it has the second biggest building in the world (after the Pentagon) which is The Palace of Parliament which dominates a whole area of Bucharest. Maybe not surprisingly it has never actually been finished as the Romanian govt cant afford it despite spending £1 billion on it, apparently about 15% of the building is still just a shell, but its so damn huge nobody will ever know exactly. However my favourite bit of Bucharest was a combination of the old town (the bit that wasnt being dug up) and a huge roundabout which had a park in the middle and loads of comedy capitalist signs that u associate with eastern europe.
After finishing up in Bucharest with a visit to a nice little resturant for some spagetti carbonara i booked a train ticket to Brasov which is in the heart of translyvania and romania's main tourist destination. The train ticket cost about £5 and the train was about ten times better than Virgin trains, so pay attention Branson! With everyone's ticket there was a seat number, free drink and sandwich, bag storage and generally nice staff....all for one tenth of the price u pay in UK! Anyway Brasov the place was......fantastic!! It is a really really beautiful little city of about 200,000 or so i think and has one of the most beautiful central squares of my entire trip. My hostel was superb, cheap and central and the food in Brasov was great.
Though there is a slight issue there, before coming to Romania from Bulgaria i had been told that Romanian food was rubbish. However i found that it was not at all that bad, granted its quite plain with not much additional sauces, spices etc but i thought it was well cooked, served up in huge portions and generaly alright, it wasnt as good as the Bulgarian earthenware bowls, but then again that was one of the best things from my entire trip foodwise.
Anyway back to normal, the most important thing about Brasov however was its potential for daytrips, as it lay within distance of at least 3/4 daytrips. The most important one is the tour of the two castles which can be done by bus for about £4 return. The first castle you goto is Bran Castle which is famous for being the home of Vlad Tepes who is the basis for the fictional character of Dracula. I thought this castle was alright though it strangely ignores all the dracula stuff (kinda valid when u find out Tepes only actually went there once!) but basically it is just a former royal palace that still looks like it is lived in or at least u can move in pretty quickly! The second castle is called Rasnov and in my opinion far far better. For one thing its a proper castle and by this i mean, ancient, derelict and on a hill. It has a fantastic view looking one way from the castle u can see the town of Rasnov spread about before u on a huge plain but turn round and look the other way and all u can see is forest and mountains, i preferred the latter view obviously! This castle was beautiful and worth the trip out to it alone and for one thing it wasnt packed with tourists like Bran.
The other day trips from Brasov are Peles Castle in Sinaia which is a really romantic fairytale palace about an hour on the train away from Brasov. However i preferred the little town of Sighisora which is famous for being the birthplace of Vlad Tepes but it is a really interesting little place of its own accord with lots of cool little museums, shops, towers and churches to look around.
The final leg of my trip was a coupe of days in Sibiu (oh i spent just over a week in Brasov) which is an amazing city full of cafe's, squares, baroque buildings, huge churches and shops. It was like a very very minature prague and comes highly recommended from this author! However it is very very difficult to get to, the only way u can get there is on a train from Brasov (if u come from bucharest transfer at brasov) and its really out of the way. I loved this city so much, but i cant really describe how! I guess it was because i was in another great hostel, met some good people, had lots of fun, found some great cafes...the only problem was that a lot of places stopped serving food about 9 at night!
I ended my entire trip by coming back to bucharest as i had to fly home. had 2 u say?...well yes i did...im out of money...stupid crap pay at holiday inn!
Anyway thats it from my trip, i hope u all enjoyed reading about it and thanks for all the e-mails in my inbox and messages on facebook!
now if anyone wants 2 give me a job in UK...get in touch! and no im not a journalist or author...haha