Transylvania, the story continues. From Sighisoara I traveled to Brasov. A much bigger and lifelier city than Sighisoara. There are lots of things to do in Brasov and surroundings. You can explore the city itself and visit different kinds of museums, walk through the narrowest street in Europe (or so they say), enjoy the nightlife (it’s not that great, but it has some nice pubs), walk to the citadel or take a day trip to the famous Bran Castle.
So first of all, when I figured out that Sighisoara was a bit too peaceful for me to celebrate my birthday, I decided to take the train to Brasov the morning of my birthday. The train would leave at 10.15 according to the website. Arriving at the station I found out the train would leave an hour later. Waiting for an hour is quite okay in these regions (unlike The Netherlands, where people complain about trains being 5 minutes late, which actually makes sense to complain about sometimes). So I waited for an hour, went to the tracks and ended up waiting for 2 more hours.
Somewhere in the late afternoon I arrived in Brasov. I felt a bit lazy and wanted to take a taxi to my hostel. At the taxi stop I experienced the first time that day that Romania (and Romanian people) could be quite rough/agressive. Knowing how much the taxi would cost (about 2 euros), I walked up to the first one in line. The driver didn’t know the adress, so asked his collegue if he’d know. His colleague looked at the adress, took my suitcase and put it in his car, while he told me it would cost 25 euros.
As I was going to protest, a guy who was standing by a street light near the taxi asked me how much money he asked me. I told him the price and said that it was way too much. He agreed and went up to the taxi driver. They got into an argument and I was standing in the middle at the moment. Within the next few minutes they started fighting, so I told them I would look for another taxi and wanted to take my suitcase out of the car. The taxi driver saw that, grabbed my arm and screamed that I couldn’t. At that same moment, five other taxi drivers came up to me on my other side, patted my head, got my suitcase, and told me not to be afraid and they would bring me to someone else who could bring me, while the other ones were rolling on the street fighting. I tried to stay as serious as possible (I thought the situation was quite hilarious) and agreed to a fair price. I don’t know if I was more suprised about the fighting taxidrivers (kinda knew about that kind of things in the country) or the five taxdrivers that helped me and treated me like a true damsel in distress.
Anyway, it was a funny traveling experience (which could maybe end up a bit worse I guess, as seen from my arm afterwards). After that situation I arrived at the hostel. As it was friday night, I went to the store, bought some drinks and told people at the hostel it was my birthday. It was the first time I was alone on my birthday and spending the evening with strangers. But the approach was quite succesful I must say. A group of people from the hostel went to some party at a pub in town and asked me if I wanted to come with them. Of course!
As we walked to the pub, we heard someone shouting. Apparently there were two guys fighting over a girl (as we could see) and they were quite rough as well. We were wondering if we should help them, but at the same moment they calmed down a bit and as we had some drinks already we figured it wouldn’t be wise to go between them. We walked away, turned the corner and…screams again. This time somebody got robbed. We saw the robber run away and a woman ran after him screaming. He turned the corner where we came from and at the same moment all these police cars came with squealing brakes. The robber was roughly pushed to the ground, got arrested and taken away. That was a bit of a Wild West moment there. The only thing that was missing was Liam Neeson. Maybe next time when I am in the neighbourhood.
And after that, something with a party, quite a lot of drinks, taking cheesy tourist pictures in the city in the middle of the night with a random (very drunken) guy and tried to drag him to the hostel and absolutely not let him bother the muscled and very annoyed looking Romanian guys (asking them to teach us Romanian) we came across.
Memorable birthday. (:
The day after my birthday I decided to sleep in (hello, hangover) and just take it easy. The weather was still nice, so in the afternoon I took a stroll through the city. Brasov lies at the border of the Carpathian mountains and with a beautiful historic centre, strolling around the city is not a bad thing to do for a couple of days.
I didn’t visit a lot of museums this time, but went to see the old watch towers that surround the historic part of town and walked up to the citadel where you have a really nice view over the whole city and the surrounding area. When I was there, there was a big market going on with people selling al kinds of local products. So that was a good time to buy some souvenirs.
Also having a couple of drinks with people form the hostel (interesting thing about the pubs in Brasov: They are hidden behind the shops in the main street and they can be reached through small alleyways between the shops), had dinner in a lovely veggie restaurant which serves traditional Romanian food in a modern way (forgot the name unfortunately), walked through the smallest street in Europe and had a nightly walk again off course. Yes, it was a nice long weekend.
Bran en Raznov
I didn’t go to Brasov just for the city itself. Thirty minutes from Brasov lies one of the most famous castles in the world: Bran Castle, also known as Dracula’s Castle. Lying in the lower part of the Carphatian Mountains it is truly a beautiful Castle and one of the most beautiful I have seen I think (and I have seen a lot). There a tons of rooms, staircases and hallways to get wonderfully lost in.
That is off course, if you would ignore hundreds of other people visiting the castle. Even in the low season it was so incredibly crowded. Did not expect that it would be that bad to be honest. There were a lot of queues and therefore you couldn’t really see anything. And all that because of a legend. I thought it was quite interesting to hear how people see the story behind this castle. I heard lots of people say that the legend of Dracula and the castle is fake, but it actually is a fact that Bram Stoker was very much inspired by the castle for -his- version of Count Dracula. That he was slightly inspired by the story of Vlad Tepes (only the name), is a whole other story. The ruin of Vlad’s castle can also be found in this area I believe. But anyway, personally I think these legends are two different kinds of stories. But it was beautiful nonetheless. Down in the city of Bran itself, you can find a little open air museum and a big christmas like market.
On the way back to Brasov I visisted a small citadel called Rasnov as well. It was not easy to reach, but the plusside was that it was also a lot quieter than Bran castle. And again, beautiful scenery on the Carphatian forest!
Interested to go as well? Some tips:
1. Also really close lies the city of Sinaia, where you can visit Peles Castle. I wanted to go there as well, but in November they are closed due to the anual cleaning of the house. Good excuse to go back some day.
2. If you are interested in the story of Vlad the Impaler, go to Poenari Castle.
3. Fancy some natural scenery? Ride the Transfagarasan highway! The most beautiful road, according to the men of Top Gear at least.