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Published: June 28th 2012
In costume after the 6pm Trumpet performance
They walked around the square but their heart wasn't into it. One chap never showed his face from below his cap!
Tuesday 26th June 2012
We had an early start as we woke up at 0630 giving Judy a chance to do her OUA work before breakfast. The weather was cool, it having rained during the night. We left the apartment at 0930, catching the local maxi-taxi, the Metro and being at the Central station with plenty of time before our IC train to Brasov.
Here we bought some sandwiches and a piece of pie to tide us over on our 3 hour journey to Brasov. We arrived there at 1300 and Ivan Gabriel of the Gabriel Hostel was very helpful in showing us which bus to catch as well as showing us on a map of where to go. Good PR on his part as he was also selling tours. (didn't work with us though, we did it independently)
Bus 51 took us into the centre of town and from there we followed the map to the Hotel Esprit. This hotel is about a 10 minute walk out of town when you know the way, we went the long way which took about 30! It is set right up on the side of a mountain with views all
Hollywood ?- no Brasov!
View from our verandah.
over town, but this also means a steep climb there.
The room we booked was fabulous. A large room, nicely furnished, with a very modern bathroom, and a balcony overlooking the town. All this including breakfast for 59 euros /night. Away from the centre of Bucharest we can live like kings here.
We both loved the town itself, the square, the old buildings, and just the pleasant atmosphere here. After a quick look around we both decided that a drink and a meal were priorities and it was then that we experienced the poor service we were warned about in this country. The first cafe we sat down at, we were totally ignored, so we just got up and left. The second wasn't much better, it was only after Judy went inside, disturbing the two waitresses having a deep conversation, that someone came to serve us. Even then it took a little while, and many smiles and 'thank yous' on our part to get drinks, meals, and finally a bill. They say you tip according to the quality of the service, so it didn't hurt our budget!
We did enjoy our meal there though, the food was
good and the atmosphere within the square was delightful. There was a flute playing somewhere, children were riding bikes around the fountain, a guard ceremony with bugles heralded the end of the day, as well as many people amongst the 100s of pigeons all combined to make it something special. An after-dinner walk down one of the alleys followed, Rags succumbing to one of the ice-creams being sold in many places, brought an enjoyable day to an end.
By 1930 we had returned to our room, the weather being rather cool, and at 2000 with the sun still shining brightly, Judy took photos of the scenery from the balcony. It's going to be hard getting used to the early darkness when we return home, daylight saving there should be during our winter months.
Wednesday 27th June 2012
Breakfast at 0730 was an early one as we woke early and wanted to get away early. Today we are off to see Bran Castle, the Dracula legend being based here. In reality this is tenuous at best, Vad the Impaler on whom the Dracula legend was loosely based never lived here and at the most spent 2 nights
here when in hiding. Film companies have used the castle as a set and the locals have set up an industry around it.
We caught two local buses to get to the town of Bran, this taking about 40 minutes. On the second part of our trip Judy starting chatting with an American couple, Dennis and Linda, from California. In no time the conversation became more animated and by the time we arrived at Bran it had been decided that we would team up and explore the town together.
The castle is set up on a hill overlooking the town and we had to make our way through stall after stall of souvenirs, most relating to the Dracula theme. The castle itself has been fairly well restored and has many guides in place to ensure you don't stray from the expected path around it. Each room is labelled, describing the former use and the contents in it now, the Romanian royal family having lived there and Queen Marie's style of decorating coming to the fore.
We also viewed the Torture Room, a display of all the various implements used in this era in countries across Europe to
get unfortunates to confess to their crimes, or to punish them for crimes committed. There were all sorts of devices made to damage all parts of the body in tne most painful way possible. It's hard to imagine that people could be so cruel to each other.
Lunch at a local cafe followed and we chose a range of dishes such as cabbage rolls, chicken livers, beans, lamb and trout. Rags decided to try a glass of the local red wine but was so unimpressed he left it until he had finished his meal. A fly had been annoying us as we ate, no matter how much we waved our hands it kept on returning. Rags had just picked up his wine when it flew near him and when he waved it away his glass hit the water bottle and broke, splashing wine all over Dennis. What a mess!
The waitresses saw it happen, but had to be called over to clean the mess. This they only partially did, leaving glass and wine on the floor and chair before walking off. Dennis had to sit at another spot when he returned from cleaning himself. To add injury to
The walk to Rasnov fortress.
Note the method of transport in the foreground!
insult, not only wasn't Rags given a replacement glass of wine as happens in most places, there was a charge for the glass on the bill! As it was only for about A$1.50 he didn't say anything, it now an extra bit of trivia learned on our travels.
Rasnov, a town we passed on our way to Bran was our next stop, this featuring the ruins of another castle. This was built as a peasant citadel in the 13th century, right on top of a mountain. We followed the signs from the town square, walking up a winding road for some time before we came to the bus parking area where there was a tractor with a passenger trailer to take us on the last section.
The castle is big and sprawling, many parts completely in ruin, some areas quite well preserved. From the top there were 360 degree views over the town and the Bucegi Mountains. The ruins showed how the wall of the mountain had been used as part of the buildings as well as the base for the defensive walls. It would have been almost impossible for attackers to scale the steep slopes around it.
Our train to the castle
It would have been faster to walk!
Water came from a well 146m deep, built by Turkish prisoners who were promised their freedom when they finished digging it. It took them 17 years.
On returning to the bus stop in Rasnov, we were approached by a chap in an unmarked car offering the 4 of us a ride back to Brasov for about the same cost as the bus. The men were for accepting the offer but the ladies were suspicious. When the chap let out that we weren't going to be dropped off in the centre of town, and he raised the negotiated price, we declined, to his disgust. As it was, we had a pleasant stroll to the local vegetable market where we bought some bananas and cherries, before catching a bus back to town.
We met Dennis and Linda at 1900 as arranged (the bells were pealing as we arrived) at the entrance to Sergiana's, a restaurant recommended for good Romanian food by the Tourist Office. Soup for Judy was bean soup with smoked gamon, Rags sour soup with meatballs, followed by fried liver with tomato and onion for Judy, pork knuckle and polenta for Rags. With a tropical beer and dark
Dennis, Linda, Judy and Rags at Rasnov
We struck up a conversation with some young chaps from the US who kindly took some photos for us.
beer respectively, a very tasty meal was had.
A walk through the main square followed before we stopped at a place for some dessert. Judy and Rags only had room for an ice-cream but sat down and watched our companions eat some of the local pastries.We said our farewells to Dennis and Linda, having enjoyed their company for the day. We have exchanged contact details, who knows, we may meet sometime in the future.
Thursday 28th June 2012
Breakfast was better this morning, we brought our own bananas to mix with the supplied yoghurt. No way we were going to eat their chocolate pops stuff! This, together with the delicious omelette, cheese and meats, plus coffee /tea had us both ready for the day.
We headed for the town square as just beyond this is the entrance to the funicular cable car to the top of Mt Tampa. We came to the old walls of the town and followed the signs. A pleasant area with paths through the dense trees with views over the old town, but no cable car. We walked back to where we thought it should be but still couldn't see it.
On asking a couple of older chaps we realised we had gone too far, the fit looking chap on a bike pointing to a track and waiting for us to reach it.
No wonder he was fit, the track he indicated was the track only fit people and lost Australians used, it was the track to the summit! We didn't know this at first, thinking we'd get to the funicular station eventually. The track zig-zagged upwards for about a kilometre before it crossed the cable car lines. We could see the terminal below us, so the decision was that we continue. The temperature may have been a higher than it was when we climbed the mountain in Bergen, but it wasn't as far (just under a kilometre above sea level). The going was relatively easy at first, but by the time we reached the summit both of us but especially Judy felt we'd had enough.
A couple of iced teas at the cafe helped revive us but we were disappointed that there was no lookout from where we could take photos except in the restaurant there. That was until we entered the area where the cable cars went
down, we gladly paying the A$5 fare for both of us. Back at the foot we saw that we had walked past the terminal earlier, it being poorly marked and we were deep in conversation about something.
A short walk to near the square found a nice place for lunch even though neither of us were very hungry. Judy still managed to eat some of her pork stew, Rags a chicken salad plus a plate of fried white beans. Judy has discovered her drink of preference, CIUC which is a low alcohol (1.9%), lemon flavoured beer, Rags sticking to his Silva Strong Dark Ale (7%).
A walk through Parc Central followed, a very well tended park with many flower beds. As well as children's playgrounds (which we avoided) there are areas where local men play chess and other games. You are warned in the guide book not to challenge them “unless you are very,very good”. We didn't.
A few drinks and nibbles were purchased at a supermarket we found, before returning to our hotel. We have decided that tonight we will stay in, neither of us needing more food, ready for our departure tomorrow morning back to
Now, that's one chair I don't want to sit in!
We had to pay extra for a ticket to get into the torture exhibition but I think that would mainly be so that the many children who visited the castle didn't see or read about all the terrible items of torture. Give anyone nightmares!
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