Thursday, 22 December 2011

Pre-Christmas in Brasov I

Piata Sfatului, Brasov and the Christmas market early in the morning
When it comes about Christmas, people, mostly in Europe, think of visiting Prague, Paris, Vienna, Nurnberg, etc, all those places that are very famous with their Christmas markets and Christmas spirit. To live something different (and because of the great deal I found in internet) we decided to spend few days in Brasov, Romania.

Welcome to Romania, Danube bridge, connecting Bulgaria and Romania
We left Plovdiv early in the morning and proceed to Ruse where we passed the bridge over Danube and went on to Bucharest. All the way we were so careful not to miss the exit to the ring road of the city but unfortunately we did it and we entered Bucharest. At the beginning I was so disappointed because we wanted to escape from the traffic and also we were in a hurry to reach Sinaia before they close the Castle of Peles. It took us one hour to pass through the Romania capital but later we talked to some guys that had passed the city through the ring at the same time and they told us it took them 2 hours! Obviously the road is narrow at some places and there are a lot of traffic lights that stop the traffic. We were so happy we choose the "wrong" way and we managed to reach Sinaia on time. About 30 km before the wonderful resort, we entered the pass in the Carpathians and we passed through lovely little villages and resorts - they were all decorated for Christmas, only snow was missing.
On the road between Bucharest and Sinaia

Finally we found the Peles Castle. It is hidden in the mountain above the town and stays so majestic between the trees. I couldn't stop watching it. And I didn't need to as we had to park the car about 500 m far from it and we could enjoy it while approaching it.
The Castle was built by the Romanian king Carol I in the middle of  XIX century by the project of the German architect Johannes Schultz. The rooms inside are fantastic - there is a dining room, different from the breakfast one, a dance hall, play room (where there was a theater and later a cinema), even a Turkish room and so on and so on. Luxury jets from everywhere. There were 2 mirrors in one of the halls put in a frame of colourful, glass flowers and shined like diamonds. Unfortunatelly we were not allowed to take pictures. The garden is also amazing with stone statues.
Some touristic information: On entering the castle we were told to put on slippers over the shoes to protect it clean. And the entrance fee is not expensive - 20 RON (5 EUR) but is only for the first floor. If you want to visit all 3 floors the cost is 70 RON. The Castle works from 9 to 17 (last group is at 4 p.m. although we saw people entering half an hour later) and it's not working on Monday and Tuesday and it is also closed the whole November.
The gorgeous Castle
It was hard to leave the beautiful castle but it was starting to get dark and we had to move on. After about an hour we reached Bradet, the village where we stayed in the next 2 nights. The hotel was good, recently renovated, all in wood.

In the morning we jumped on the car and went directly to Brasov, 15 km far from that place. And Brasov is an amazing Transilvanian city.

View from the panorama terrace of Tampa hill
At the market
Was it because Christmas was coming or was it because of the sun but people were smiled everywhere, drivers were tolerant (as a difference from the ones in Bucharest) and the mood was high. For a day we walked around the Old City and saw some of its sightseeing. There was a Christmas market at Piata Sfatului (The council square), a big tree and they were playing Christmas music all day. We didn't miss to try vin fiert ,that delicious mulled apple wine and of course the sweet pretzels. We walked around the city walls and visited the White Tower as well as the Hunter Tower. The city walls were built in the middle of 15 century with 8 bastions and 32 towers. Some of them work as museums. The cherry of the cake that day was climbing to the highest point in Brasov - Tampa hill, where there is a spectacular view to the city from a panorama terrace, situated just next to the sign of Brasov. We climbed by the cable car that is situated just next to the Hunters Tower and a round trip ticket cost 15 RON (or about 4 EUR). People say it's a nice one hour walking up to the hill but we didn't have much time and also it was my first time in a cable car. We also had a coffee in the restaurant just next to the window watching the red roofs of the buildings.
Selling vin fiert
The north part of the city wall, on the way to the White Tower
Another interesting place for visiting is Casa Muresenilor, the family house of the famous Romanian family Muresanu that is now turned into a museum. The family has lived there for 5 generations and many of its members were in the high culture circles - musicians, politicians, newspaper editors, etc. The house is located just opposite the square. Do not miss to visit also Biserica Neagra (the Black Church) and the Romanian Orthodox church, both located at the main square. On the west side of the city's wall are both Schei gate and  Catherine gate. They are built in 13th respectively 15th century. The Saxons first established the city and the Germans were living inside, while Romanians were living out of the walls, in the Schei district and they had to pay taxes to enter.
Catherine's gate
It was enough for that long day, we left some things for the next one and went back to the hotel.
Delicious papanas
There was a Romanian folk band in the restaurant, playing folk music and it was a nice evening with a jug of red wine. Everything was fine, including the wonderful dessert that I try for the 3-d time in Romania - Papanas with cream and jam (something like donuts, you just have to try it), until the moment when we ask for the check. In the hotel offer was included the dinner, they told us we can order up to 50 lei and everything above that sum we have to pay. OK, but according the waiter we had to pay 37 lei more and according my calculations - only 10 lei. I had to ask him several times to come and explain me why. He reduced the bill twice until we reached the correct one, inventing different reasons of this "misunderstanding". It was so ugly thing - to try to lie us for 6 EUR. The next morning he came to appology but of course he didn't  confess his guilt and he said something about the computer didn't work properly. Anyway, I'm glad it was the only bad thing that happened at this trip.

On the next day, we left for a day trip out of Brasov to visit the famous Dracula Castle, Rasnov Fortress and the Ski resort Poiana Brasov.

My friend - the reindeer Rudolph


  1. Прекрасно пътешествие и снимки, Мира!

  2. Радвам се, че ти харесва. Разбира се, самото пътуване беше още по-живописно.