It is the home of Dracula. How could we not be excited about that. If you know me, you know that I’m a dedicated Buffy, Angel, Twilight & True Blood fan. So of course I was looking forward to getting to Romania aka. the birthplace of vampires supposedly. However we were both a little apprehensive about the warnings we had regarding the gypsies and their mischievous ways.
We took a fairly early train to our first Transylvanian destination – Cluj Napoca. The 7-hour journey was livened up at the border control when the police took off with our passports for a good half an hour. I think it may have been the longest 30-minutes of our lives!
We had about a 2km walk to the hostel, which was welcoming after the long journey (I can’t believe I actually wrote that considering we are on a 13-hour journey at the moment!). Our hostel, City Hostel, was tucked away in a small alleyway. It was a great deal for only 20 Euro a night!
By the time we were settled it was around 7pm and we were starving.
Surprisingly our hunger took over and decision-making came easy on this night (we are both so terrible when it comes to decisions) so we walked into the first restaurant-bar-club we came across. Which just so happened to again be down a dark alley and some stairs to an underground cave type restaurant. For 10 Euros we got 2 half-liter beers, family-sized pizza, fries and mushrooms filed with herbs and cheese. Just what the doctor ordered. We were going to have a stroll around the city after dinner but the wind chill was horrendous.
The night ended back at the hostel where we had a few beers at the bar and called it a night.
The next day in Cluj we started off the day with a full English breakie (we took full advantage of the cheapness of Romania by the way!). After which we spent the day strolling round the university town amongst buying some more winter gear and organizing our onwards train reservations.
After covering about 15km in the freezing cold and rain we made it back to the hostel around dinner time to try a local specialty from the restaurant connecting to our hostel. Bean and bacon soup in a bread bowl. Thankfully they had only one bread bowl left as this meal was huge and we were both stuffed after sharing 1 and having a few beers! As we were full to the brim we cancelled our dinner plans of trying out a recommended restaurant and instead headed to the supermarket to stock up on a few evening drinks and some snacks for the train the next day.
It wasn’t the nicest train journey, thankfully it was only 4 hours! The train was dived up into sections of 10 seats facing each other in close proximity and it was packed. It was nice to finally ‘alight’ the train to the small but beautiful town of Sighisoara.
Our hostel was literally 10 meters from the train station – Hostel Gia. The lady working there didn’t really know much so she ended up putting us in the ‘Valentines Room’ which was a bit of a laugh.
Later on in the evening she told us we would have to move to another room the next day because a honeymooning couple were coming.
We had a walk around the suburbs later that afternoon before hitting the supermarket for some evening beverages and we grabbed some pizza on the way home for lunch/dinner.
The next day we spent most of our time in the famous citadel of Sighisoara with its brightly coloured houses and the famed ‘Dracula’s house’ – apparently it is the house he grew up in until he was 4. Though annoyingly enough we couldn’t go in and we couldn’t access a lot of the citadel because a film was being shot there – we later found out it is the film called Convicted to Live with Gérard Depardieu in and some other American actors.
Lunch was at a local restaurant in the village below the citadel where we had our favourite bean and bacon soup in a bread bowl with some local wine and beer. Though I have to admit the soup wasn’t nearly as good as when we had t in Cluj!
We wandered around for most of the afternoon before grabbing some 2-minute noodles and heading back to the hostel for the evening. We took a late walk in the evening to see the citadel clock tower lit up which was truly beautiful.
The next day we were off yet again, this time it was only 2.5 hours on the train – to Brasov. We managed to get a compartment to ourselves this time, so the journey was nice and relaxing. We arrived around 12:30pm and we couldn’t check-in to our guesthouse until 2pm. By the station we found a shopping mall to hang out in for a while. The walk to the guesthouse was around 2km – nothing strenuous.
Our guesthouse (LaDespani) was gorgeous and for 20 Euro a night we were stoked. The owners were actually away, so the mother was looking after things and she spoke only German!! Thank-fully we still remembered some of our German words. However the owners had left us little notes and maps explaining everything in English, which was awfully sweet.
The house had only 4 rooms so it was extremely cozy and a bonus was we had our own huge bath – I made full use of this everyday!
So the rest of the afternoon was spent sorting out our onward travel from Brasov (we have decided it’s nice to get it sorted ASAP so we can enjoy the rest of the time in where ever we are and not have to worry about it) as well as hitting the supermarket for some dinner and breakfast supplies.
We stayed in on the first night as the kitchen area and lounge was just so comfy. I cooked up a big pot of sweet and sour pork with some rice. Delish!
The next day we dedicated to seeing Brasov. The walk from the guesthouse into town was just shy of 3km. It is a gorgeous wee town, fantastic gothic buildings all surrounded by mountains.
We started off the ‘Morgan’s walking tour’ at the main square – Piata Stafalui. The tourist information center is housed in the center of the square in a building called the Casa Sfatului (Council House), which dates back to 1420, prisoners were kept there and tortured. The Historical Museum is also in the building.
We wandered around the back of the square to find the ‘Black Church’, which was built between 1384 and 1477. The name came about when in 1689 a fire blackened all it’s walls. It also has only one spire, which displays a gorgeous clock-face on. We decided to pay the Euro to go inside to take a look. Inside there are at least 120 Turkish rugs hung around the place. What Morgan liked the best was that down all the grates there were thousands of coins. I presume if you drop money in there, you ‘acquire some kind of good luck’.
We later brought a black and white picture of the church to send home.
We then roamed further around the city to catch a glimpse of both the black and white towers. However we decided to chop walking up them since we were planning to head up Mt Tampa later in the day. Which reminds me that Brasov has their very own Brasov ‘Hollywood’ sign on Mt Tampa, which is pretty cool.
We then grabbed a coffee before heading to one of the narrowest streets in Europe. Str Sforii is 1.32 meters wide and approximately 83 meters long. When you walk down it you kind of feel like you have jumped into a Harry Potter movie, very cool.
For lunch we decided to head to a place which was recommended by quite a few people – Bistro de l’Arte. The restaurant is on the ground floor of a cozy 15th century building. We had a glass of Romanian wine with a meatball soup each. The setting was cool but the food and wine wasn’t anything to write home about really.
In the afternoon we took the cable car up Mt Tampa. The views were fantastic and the best bit was all the snow on the ground! Since we haven’t been anywhere in such a long time that has snow we both turned into 5 year olds and of course we began hurling it at each other. A lot of fun and definitely a highlight of the day! Before heading back down the mountain we had a very reasonable priced beer at the restaurant at the top whilst looking down on Brasov.
Once we got back to our little neighborhood we were absolutely starving and opted for a couple of bottles of wine with some cheap and cheerful pizza’s from around the corner. It was pretty much a lucky dip as the girl at the pizzeria didn’t speak English and the menu was in Romanian so we weren’t took sure what we were going to get!
The next morning we were up bright and early to take a bus out to ‘Bran Castle’ – otherly known as Dracula’s Castle,. Apparently he didn’t even live there but oh well we were still geeky and even brought vampire teeth for a laugh! The actually castle was pretty small, lots of small stairways and the rooms were small but cozy – definitely a new sort of castle as to the one’s we have visited over the past months. I think visiting it on a dark gloomy day would have been cool – a bit spookier! We wandered around Bran for a few hours before taking the bus back in the afternoon.
Once we got back we started getting everything ready for the train the next day – 13 hours means we needed to sort out food and drink to take with. Once we had done that and packed up our bags again and we headed out to a recommended Romanian restaurant for dinner – Casa Tudor. We had to use up our Romanian money, as from experience we found out it’s better to do that than exchange it. So we ate and drank like kings ? 1 liter of red wine, calamari, bread with olive oil and vinegar and for mains, Morgan had wild boar cutlets with crochets and I had the most delicious meal ever – salmon with champagne and kiwi sauce. It sound’s weird but was absolutely divine. All up in the end, the meal only cost about 15 Euro!
So that about sums up our time in Transylvania – we absolutely loved Romania and if we get a chance we will definitely be going back!