For one more time we decided to go to Romania for a couple of days. Combining the 4 days we had as holidays in Bulgaria with some auto tourism in our north neighbor country.
The plan was the following – Bran, Brasov, Sinaia. Three great cities in the outskirts of Bucegi mountains (part of the Carpathians).
Well… yeah, kind of. This time I wanted to add something that a CouchSurfing guest of ours recommended 10 months ago – the Berca mud volcanoes.
It wasn’t exactly on our way, but who cares. I was curious to see exactly what ‘volcano-ish’ they had. And I was impressed. I was expecting something small. And this wasn’t small – a big field, surrounded by hills. A hill of grey clay with some small geysers. Not exactly like big ones – some were like boiling water with big bubbles, others looked like almost silent piles of poo, which gave strange sound from time to time. An amazing view.
We read that the form from a 3km deep gas which raises through layers of clay and water, thus erupting mud on the surface. They clay then dries and forms cones around the ground
Of course I couldn’t resist and play around with the clay… who would. I brought the inner child then, allowing it to mess a little bit with it.
Second stop had to be Bran, the so called ‘Dracula’ village, where the castle was built. Our GPS wanted us to go back through Ploiesti, but no-no…. we’d rather make a few more kilometers than get back. It was totally worth it. Riding through picturesque mountain roads, beautiful landscapes, a big dam, some pouring rain, which stopped most of the Romanian cars for a rest until it cleared. 140 km adventure in the mountains – wonderful.
Then to the Bran castle. A cute, small castle on a rock. It shouldn’t be called Dracula, really. I think Vlad Tepes didn’t even live there… whatever. Nowadays it’s something like a historical museum with a short rope-guided tour around some of the rooms. Interesting enough. The small village beneath the castle was free to visit the last time we went there – now it had additional entry fee…. that’s a progress.
Of course a visit to the nearby market and buying some traditional smoked cheese is a must.
This time we decided to stay at the highest point of Bran. I’m not going to skip the name here, because these people deserve it – Vila Bran. A great complex of 10 houses, big restaurant, plenty of activities to do (wall climbing, archery, tennis, ping-pong, fitness, horse riding, etc) – all the activities free. And the price was reasonable, we like it there.
The next morning – to Brasov. A couple of times I’m only passing through this small city, but this time no…. it was time to see it. A beautiful city with western architecture (as I learn, German)… it even has a German name – Kronstadt. So we were there extremely early – not even at 10 as you can see from the sun-clock of the German church. Great.
You got to like Brasov from the moment you see it. Nearby mountains, architecture, oh man… even the eateries there. We found a bakery which was called ‘The German bakery’, I think. The best pie I’ve tried so far.
Of course we didn’t miss to visit the gothic cathedral in Brasov – the Black church. The biggest gothic cathedral from Vienna to Istanbul, as they say.
One major drawback – sleeping in Brasov. C’mon people, really. With the presence of big resort cities nearby, the price of a hostel, hotel, etc. shouldn’t be this high. After a couple of tries we decided that it’s not that much worth it. And went to Sinaia. We were right – for the lowest price we got in Brasov, we got some luxurious apartments in Sinaia. And we could combine it with a walk in the nearby park.
Do you even have to ask… I saw the lions
The final morning before we headed to Ruse rewarded us with a visit to the Peles castle. We didn’t expect to have so much luck – we read that it’s open from 11:00 AM (Tuesday) this day, which was already a little bit too late for us. So we decided we go, see it again, and return. Instead, we stumbled on a group of German tourists which had nothing against us, visiting the castle with them (it was opened 1 1/2 hours before that for them). So…. luck was with us.
One final picture of the whole group
The whole gallery can be seen in my Picasa Web Albums ~HERE~