Archive for ‘Romania’  

Romania : Scenic Sighisoara

Saturday, 10th May 2008

Photos of Sighisoara here

After hearing all about the castles in the area we had to decide on 1 as we only had the morning to spare. So we chose Dracula’s Bran Castle in the little town Bran, about 40 minutes from Brasov. We caught a local bus to Bran but on the way it started raining and was freezing cold.

It only took about 10 minutes to walk around the castle and we soon realise that the guide book was correct in saying this is the fake Dracula Castle and not all it’s cracked up to be. Needless to say we caught the next bus back to Brasov.

We had to hang around for a while at the Hostel where we stored our luggage and then headed for the train station to catch the 16:05 train to Sighisoara – Dracula’s birthplace.

It was a beautiful 2 hour train trip through the mountains and forests and our hostel was only 200 metres from the station. We decided to have a lazy evening, made dinner at the hostel, Nathan’s Villas, and went to bed early.

Next morning we walked up the hill to the Citadel (Old Town) to explore the Millennium-old houses and buildings. We walked past the house where Dracula allegedly grew up but decided not to go in as it is now a restaurant that over charges for under-par food (so we’ve been told by the locals). There is a very pretty covered walkway that leeds you right to the top of the hill with great views.

Sighisoara is a beautiful little town and we were really glad we made this stop-over.

We only had the morning to spend in town and got the 11:10 train to Budapest, arriving at 19:30.

If you can’t see the slideshow above click here.

Romania : Brasov

Thursday, 8th May 2008

Photos of Brasov here

After our hectic trek yesterday, we decided to take the later train from Bucharest to Brasov at 13:00 (instead of 09:30). We got up at about 9:00 and by the time we finished breakfast and updated our blog at the hostel, it was 12:00 and time to walk to the station.

The trip to Brasov was about 2 hours and 40 minutes and we arrived at 15:40. We found the hostel easily, checked in and went straight into the Old Town. There is not that much to see, but Brasov is a very nice little Medieval town in the mountains.

We decided to splash a bit and treated ourselves with a proper dinner (which generally means anything but bread) and had some traditional Romanian dishes at a local restaurant on the main square – very nice indeed.

Having an early night before we head to Sighisoara tomorrow.

If you can’t see the slideshow above click here.

Bulgaria, Romania : Bucharest Blockage

Thursday, 8th May 2008

Best laid plans.. well, we never made it to Brasov yesterday as we had hoped after all. After having breakfast in Velico, we got a short taxi to the train station and were 30mins early for the 11:10 train to Bucharest.

We soon heard that the train was delayed and that it would only arrive at noon. Noon came and went and we eventually left at 12:30-ish. The train got to the next station fairly swiftly (about 8km further), but then stopped for what turned out to be a total of almost 4 hours. At this stage we began to doubt the possibility of going through to Brasov, but still had hope..

Turned out that we had been standing there without a engine and were waiting for a replacement the whole time. We got moving from there at about 16:00 and immediately the ticket inspectors came around to do the usual checks. We had been sitting (feet up) in the compartment by ourselves watching a movie when they came in shouting about the ‘damage’ we were causing to the seats..

They insisted we paid a ‘shtraf’ fine of what we could make out to be ~ 16 euro each. In addition they also started runting about the fact that we had only our inter-rail passes but no seat reservations (dispite the fact that we were 2 of about 7 people on the entire carriage!) and demanded more money.

Needless to say we just acted dumb and told them we had no money on us, while Marizanne was frantically wiping the dust marks off the already-filthy seats. After a few minutes they realised they weren’t getting what they wanted and then just suddenly left, never to be seen again.. Both our train-trips into, and out of Bulgaria have turned out to be relatively unique experiences.

After all this fun we were still about 100 km from the border and more waiting followed while we cantered through the countryside.

We arrived at the border crossing at about 20:00 and waited some more.. and so on..

Long story short, we finally pulled into Bucharest station at 22:30 – the original arrival time being 17:09. We travelled less than 200km yesterday in a total of 10 hours – a day well spent :)

More dramas ensued as we walked the streets of Bucharest searching for our chosen hostel (trusting the Lonenly Planet’s splendid map-work) until we gave up and took a taxi 4 blocks further, finally arriving at 00:30 at the Butterfly Villa Hostel.

We’re aiming to get the 13:00 train from Bucharest to Brasov (2 hour trip), and hope to get there before tomorrow..

The Lonely Planet has really been our Bible on this trip, but it has to be said that some of the maps tend to leave one in the lurch when you most need it.

PS: Juan & Marli, thanks again for the European LP, it has carried us well through Western Europe.

PPS: Nilf & Feebil, thanks again for the cereal bars, the last two saved us during our long train trip yesterday.

We met Corina (from Cluj Napoca in Romania) in the McDonald’s at the Bucharest train station. She had just arrived back from a trip to Egypt and had plenty of stories to share. Corina is also aiming to go to Oz at some point, so we might meet up again then!