on a P train to Brasov
we were so excited for our first glimpse of the mountains!
Tuesday, May 19th. We took the 6:13am P-train from Gara de Noor in Bucharest to Brasov. We were so excited to get our first peek at the mountains. The train ride was very nice and quiet. We arrived at the chaotic train station and navigated our way by bus to the hostel. Unfortunately, they did not get our reservations and the cheapest dorm room was booked. We had to stay in a private room which was nice but out of our budget. We did what we usually do when we first arrive in a town, ask lots of questions about the town from anyone who will help us and find the cheapest grocery store. We were pleased to find the Kismet Dao Hostel had super friendly staff and that Brasov had a Carrefour grocery store. We walked through town and took a bus to Carrefour. We were in awe at the beauty of Brasov and surrounding scenery. Definitely the most traditionally beautiful city we had been to so far. Tages cooked us some delicious mashed potatoes for dinner and we planned out the rest of our time in Brasov.
Wednesday, May 20th. We moved into the 10 bed dorm along
with 8 other new arrivals to Brasov. We ended up making what felt like a ton of friends. It was so great and made our time in Brasov even more memorable! We met Julia from Munich who had cool red converse shoes and a cool black hat from Vienna. We met Wieteke from the Netherlands who I knew I would love because she was wearing a peace sign t-shirt and was avoiding the same weird american guy that we were also avoiding. we met keith from arkansas, who was family and the first since we left the US! and then we met Laura and Bailey, 2 americans. I heard their accents in the kitchen and we started talking. I asked them where they were from and when Laura said Pratt, Kansas I almost fell over with excitement. She said she had never met anyone who was so excited to find out she was from Kansas. But, all of my family is from there and I also have relatives in Pratt and it's relatively small so I felt a small piece of home being with Laura. And Bailey was from Texas but all of his family resides in St.Paul/Roseville, Minnesota so
he also reminded me of home. And his relatives protested the RNC which is awesome, of course! He said his uncle even made the newspaper. And Bailey had frequented the Turf Club, too. I love it! We all settled into the common room to watch some good old fashioned Jackass, the movie part 2.5. Good times.
Thursday, May 21st. Tages and I, along with our new friend Keith woke up early to visit Bran's Castle in Bran about an hour away. This castle was made famous by Bram Stoker's story and was not really "Dracula's" home. It was very old, simply decorated with Queen Marie's furniture and a beautiful castle. Our first castle on the trip! We took another bus back the way we came and got off in Rasnov to attempt seeing the fortress. We found the foot of the stairs leading up to the fortress where we also found a large headless snake lying on the first step. It was hot and that was a bit too much nature for me so we turned around and ate sandwiches on a park bench. there were also some men lingering on the stairs giving us scary looks so we
agreed we wouldn't be devastated if we didn't climb to the top. we walked around the small town of Rasnov some more and got back on the bus to Brasov. When we were back in town we walked to the base of Mt. Tampa and took the cable car up to the observatory. It was beautiful at the top! I am afraid of heights so it was a little overwhelming but nothing I couldn't handle.
Friday May 22nd. Today Tages and I took a day trip by train to a beautiful mountain town called Sinaia about an hour away from Brasov. When you walk out of the train station it feels like walking anywhere is walking in the direction of UP. We visited Peles Castle and Pelisor Castle. We only paid for a tour of Peles, however because we had heard it was the more extravagant of the two. And extravagant it was! We had never seen a castle so gold and gaudy. We loved it. The first European castle to have central heating, electricity and vacuuming. Construction of the castle started in 1875 and finished in 1914. Peles was the summer home of Romania's longest serving monarch, King
Carol I. King Carol's wife, Elisabeta was largely responsible for the interior decor and it is fabulous! We had a guided tour in English and it was really fascinating. We had to wear little booties over our shoes so as to not dirty the carpets, of course. The palace has 160 rooms and 30 bathrooms. We were able to see a small theatre, a music room, a library with a secret passageway! (it was so cool, just like scooby doo where you pull down some realistic looking but fake books and it opens a secret door), huge chandeliers, a weapons room and many more. During Ceausescu's era, the castle was used as a private retreat for leading communists and statesmen from around the world. US presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, Libyan leader Moamar Gaddafi and PLO leader Yasser Arafat were all entertained by the Romanian dictator here. We left the castle on a P-train back to Brasov and met the nicest Romanian woman in our carriage. Her name was Ioana and she was from Bran. She was attending a conference in Sinaia and is currently getting her masters in software programming. She started talking to us which was a
first for us in Romania b/c strangers didn't normally talk to us. We had a great conversation and she asked us to come to her house for dinner on Sunday. We would have loved to except we were leaving the next day. It was so nice to make another Romanian friend!
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