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  • FIRST POST
    • PompeyPete
    • By PompeyPete 28th Oct 17, 10:11 AM
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    PompeyPete
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    Transylvania
    • #1
    • 28th Oct 17, 10:11 AM
    0 WOW
    Transylvania 28th Oct 17 at 10:11 AM
    We've been to Croatia and Bosnia & Herzegovina this year, and having lost our appetite for SE Asia [after 20 years], we want more of Central and Eastern Europe.

    Off a completely non-travel forum on MSE I recently got the idea of visiting Romania, and in particular the Transylvania Region.....Dracula look out.

    So before I could talk myself out of the idea, I booked return flights for me and the cook with TAROM Airlines from LHR to Bucharest, between 5-23 June.

    Booking flights was the easy bit. The hard bit is where exactly to go in Transylvania for 18 nights, and how many nights to allocate to each place. First thing was to buy a Guide Book. I settled on Rough Guide to Romania, which I bought online at Wordery for just under a tenner. I could have been real MSE, and borrowed one from our local Library, but buying one means it's mine and no need to keep renewing it, plus I can attack it with a red biro to make notes.

    Next, was to work out a rough itinerary. So off I went to the Trip Advisor Romania forum, and I soon came up with basically a loop, easily doable by train, which are comfortable and inexpensive.

    I've decided on a total of 4 hotels, topping and tailing with 1 night at an Ibis Hotel close to Bucharest Airport. All the accommodation I've book are excellent vfm, and conveniently located.

    With MSE in mind, our total outlay so far is...

    - Return flights for both of us, including 23Kg: £298.
    - 18 nights accommodation in v.good standard accommodation [including breakfast at two of the places - 6 nights]: £546.
    - Train travel will come out at about £60.

    Anybody interested, I'll spill a few more beans on exactly what our itinerary is, and costings of individual accommodation.....no PMs please.
Page 1
    • PompeyPete
    • By PompeyPete 29th Oct 17, 7:40 AM
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    PompeyPete
    • #2
    • 29th Oct 17, 7:40 AM
    • #2
    • 29th Oct 17, 7:40 AM
    Thanks for the responses.

    Perhaps some of the following will be tempting...

    - A 90 minute train ride from Bucharest, our first stop for 3 nights is Sinaia

    https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attractions-g315907-Activities-Sinaia_Prahova_County_Southern_Romania.html

    - Then, a 3.5 train ride to Sighisoara for 3 nights

    https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attractions-g311309-Activities-Sighisoara_Mures_County_Central_Romania_Transylvan ia.html

    - Another train, in 2.5 hours we'll reach Sibiu for 4 nights

    https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attractions-g295393-Activities-Sibiu_Sibiu_County_Central_Romania_Transylvania.ht ml

    - And for our final stop another 2.5 hours train to wonderful Brasov, where we'll be staying for 6 nights

    https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attractions-g295394-Activities-Brasov_Brasov_County_Central_Romania_Transylvania. html

    Finally, back to Bucharest by train in 3.5 hours, and an overnight stay before a lunchtime flight home.
    • purcel
    • By purcel 29th Oct 17, 7:45 AM
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    purcel
    • #3
    • 29th Oct 17, 7:45 AM
    • #3
    • 29th Oct 17, 7:45 AM
    Wonderful itinerary, love Romania! Been to Sinaia and Brasov a few times now and loved it, accomodation is cheap and decent and food and drink is very good value for money ( a beer is around 60p in a supermarket and about £1.10 in a restaurant). I'm sure you'll have a great time, plus June is nice and warm
    • PompeyPete
    • By PompeyPete 29th Oct 17, 8:01 AM
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    PompeyPete
    • #4
    • 29th Oct 17, 8:01 AM
    • #4
    • 29th Oct 17, 8:01 AM
    Our accommodation...

    Bucharest, first and final nights

    https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Hotel_Review-g294458-d304876-Reviews-Ibis_Bucuresti_Gara_de_Nord-Bucharest.html

    Sinaia, for 3 nights B&B

    https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Hotel_Review-g315907-d655599-Reviews-Vila_Camelia-Sinaia_Prahova_County_Southern_Romania.html

    Sighisoara, another 3 nights B&B

    https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Hotel_Review-g311309-d7216753-Reviews-Gasthaus_AltePost_Pension-Sighisoara_Mures_County_Central_Romania_Transylvan ia.html

    Sibiu, a lovely little apartment for 4 nights, bang in the centre of the Old Town

    https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/13460886

    Brasov, 6 nights in the main square of the Old Town

    https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Hotel_Review-g295394-d6383492-Reviews-Residence_Piata_Sfatului-Brasov_Brasov_County_Central_Romania_Transylvania. html

    All booked on Booking.com.....yep, I read all the terms and conditions before pressing the Book button.

    The weather should be in the upper 60F, so very pleasant, allowing us to travel light.
    Last edited by PompeyPete; 29-10-2017 at 8:04 AM.
    • skint_chick
    • By skint_chick 16th Feb 18, 11:06 AM
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    skint_chick
    • #5
    • 16th Feb 18, 11:06 AM
    • #5
    • 16th Feb 18, 11:06 AM
    When you're in Bucharest if you haven't already got plans I would recommend the Walkabout free walking tour, it was really good and covered all the sights in the Old Town and the guide had great recommendations for places to eat and other things to see. Your trip sounds amazing!
    "I cannot make my days longer so I strive to make them better." Paul Theroux
    • PompeyPete
    • By PompeyPete 16th Feb 18, 11:26 AM
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    PompeyPete
    • #6
    • 16th Feb 18, 11:26 AM
    • #6
    • 16th Feb 18, 11:26 AM
    Thanks. We haven't allowed any time in Bucharest, other than overnight accommodation on arrival and at the end of our trip. But hopefully we'll be so impressed that we'll quickly want to return.
    • PompeyPete
    • By PompeyPete 3rd Jul 18, 12:16 PM
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    PompeyPete
    • #7
    • 3rd Jul 18, 12:16 PM
    • #7
    • 3rd Jul 18, 12:16 PM
    Right, we've been back a few days now, so I thought I'd chuck in a trip report. It might take me a few days to post it all.

    Basically, our itinerary was more or less exactly as further up the thread.

    A few general notes:

    - Guide Book. It's a bit silly trying to plan a multi-centre trip without a Guide Book. We used Rough Guide, and it more than did the trick.

    - Money. Called the leu or lei [plural], and abbreviated RON. The notes are all plastic, and invariable in excellent condition. We used cash most of the time, and got £1 = 5.25 RON. It varied a little, but there are plenty of exchange kiosks in all the touristy towns.....nobody tried to rip us off. There are coins too, the highest being .5 on a RON.

    - Accommodation. We don't like to spend any more than necessary, and were surprised at the high quality of accommodation at about £30 a night, often including a buffet breakfast. The one apartment that we booked was exceptional.

    - Eating out. Eating out is unbelievably affordable. Alcohol is cheap too. There are some excellent places to suit all tastes in the places we visited.

    - Trains and public transport. Trains are clean, but slow.....some slower than others. All are inexpensive, with the slower ones being very cheap. Plus side on slow trains is that you can take in the glorious green countryside, be it agricultural, rolling hills or dramatic mountains. Timetables can be frustrating, even if you want to get a faster slow train. All the timetables, arrival and departure are clearly displayed on a board in the station Booking Hall. We used local buses without any problems. Buy tickets from a kiosk, and make sure you validate them when you get on, they're cheap. A BIG Note on the trains.....you have to climb aboard, when getting off you might have a little jump. The stations don't have lifts, or slopes.....it's all stairs.

    - Getting around on foot. Some town centres, Brasov for example are quite flat, but in our experience you can expect steps everywhere, with little if any concession given for anyone with mobility issues. Not a problem for us, but definitely something to think about.

    Right, I've set the scene, and will get on the journey next.
    • PompeyPete
    • By PompeyPete 3rd Jul 18, 12:17 PM
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    PompeyPete
    • #8
    • 3rd Jul 18, 12:17 PM
    • #8
    • 3rd Jul 18, 12:17 PM
    We started on 5 June with a mid-afternoon flight from LHR to Bucharest with Tarom Airlines. The flight took just short of 3 hours, clean cabin, smart, efficient and friendly cabin crew, a meal and drinks were included. Flight set off on schedule , ditto landing. Bucharest is GMT+3, we hit the tarmac at 2000 [local]. Clearing formalities was a breeze.

    We needed some local currency. Lots of ATMs at that time, so just drew out £50 worth of RON. Bucharest Airport is a 40 minute drive out of town, and we wanted to catch the very cheap 780 shuttle Bus. No problem, one floor down from the Arrivals Hall, buy a return ticket from the ticket booth and jump on the bus, which was waiting. Make sure you validate your ticket in the validating machine as you board the bus. The return tickets cost the equivalent of £1.50 each.....a taxi would have cost a lot more, and if you got the wrong cabbie he'd have taken you for a ride. Not many people on the bus, so felt very safe.

    Uneventful journey into Bucharest, we got off at the terminus at the main train station Gara de Nord. That area isn't very inspiring after dark so it's best to have your sensible head switched on. We were staying overnight at the Ibis Hotel, a 5 minute walk. I left the cook, now referred to s Rosemary, with our stuff, and I had a quick wander to see exactly where the hotel was. Took me about 5 minutes, in that time Rosemary had been touted 4 times by taxi drivers.

    Got to the hotel, checked in. Nice hotel, standard Ibis I suppose. Decided to walk back to Gara de Nord and see if we could buy tickets for train ride to Sinaia in the morning. Gara de Nord is a very big train station, but it was easy enough to find a ticket booth open, even after 2200. We looked at the Departures Board before enquiring about the ticket. Bought the tickets for the 1010 departure, no problem, the ticket person spoke enough English to understand.....£14 total for the pair of us for the 120 Km, 95 minute trip. Note:every train journey we made we wrote on a bit of paper in Romania exactly what we wanted, date, departure, time, destination, just to avoid any misunderstandings.

    Back to the Ibis.....lights out.
    • PompeyPete
    • By PompeyPete 3rd Jul 18, 12:19 PM
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    PompeyPete
    • #9
    • 3rd Jul 18, 12:19 PM
    • #9
    • 3rd Jul 18, 12:19 PM
    6, 7, and 8 June

    Up bright and early, looking forward to our first stop in Translyvania, Sinaia. Buffet breakfast at the Ibis is 8 €uros each, far too expensive. We settled for an Instant Porridge Blueberry Oat Burst each, of which we'd brought a few.....add a bit of boiling water, give it a stir, and enjoy. Note: We drank tap water straight from the tap throughout the trip without any problems.

    Checked-out at 0915, and a 10 minute walk to Gara de Nord station. Note: That area looked a little scary when we arrived in the dark, but by day it's fine. Gara de Nord is a very big station, so it's worth allowing a few extra minutes. We found our platform easy enough, and people were already boarding. The destination of the train was Baia Mare, which is way up north close to the Ukraine Border.

    Seats on the train are allocated when you buy your ticket [except for the very slow trains]. All the carriages are numbered and we were in Vagon 5, which was right at the back and closest to the concourse. You have to climb onto the trains, and we saw people struggle a bit. The carriage we were in was full, but the seats were comfortable enough. We were sat facing a couple of Gay Romanians, who were quite interested in us, they spoke English, and we soon got a conversation going.

    The train left bang on time, and we quickly made our way into the countryside north of Bucharest. Note: There are no refreshment facilities on Romanian trains [other than Sleeper Trains]. Our journey to Sinaia took 95 minutes, for the first 50 minutes the lay of the land was flat and mainly agricultural, but it was spotlessly clean and green. Our final 45 minutes took us into the Bucegi Mountains, and the mountain scenery was glorious.

    We arrived at Sinaia on time at 1140. I had to get our luggage down from the overhead rack [nowhere else to stow it], and while I didn't have a struggle, some people will. Climbing off the train wasn't too bad. Getting from the platform to the exit meant going down 20 stairs and then up 20 stairs, no option available.

    Sinaia looks flat on our Rough Guide map, but it's anything but! Our hotel was about 300 metres away as the crow flies. We aren't crows, but we were up to a bit of a challenge, and found Hotel Tanzi after a 25 minute slog, mainly up steps and a cobbled path through the very pleasant Dimitrie Ghica Park, which also houses the Sinaia Casino [now uses for Conferences and events].

    Hotel Tanzi proved to be very comfortable and quiet, with a choice of 11 set breakfasts included. The hotel is more or less opposite the impressive Palace Hotel, but wile impressive there were tour group caches coming and going.....no thanks.

    The centre of Sinaia is very pleasant, quite small, and reasonably flat until you decide to wander away from the centre. Not a lot of traffic either along the centre. Plenty of places to eat and drink, and like everywhere else the prices are very reasonable.

    While we were in Sinaia we visited Peles Castle, which is a must do. We walked up there, which is a fair 45 minute slog to the west of town, but the scenery takes your mind of the physical effort. You can get into the extensive Castle grounds for free. We never went into the Castle as, yep you've guessed it, the place was crawling with tour groups. But we still enjoyed the place.

    We also visited a ski resort called Busteni which is a few miles north of Sinai, and easy to reach by frequent bus from outside the train station. Busteni has dramatic mountains to the immediate west, a very pretty and clean town, but spoiled a bit by the main road that runs right through it. It rained very heavily while we were there for a couple of hours, but we found a nice little bar with great views of the mountains and people watching.

    There's also a cable-car in Sinaia, but we never used it, mainly due to dodgy weather forecasts. We've got brollies, but the thought of being too far off shelter from a Transylvanian deluge didn't appeal.

    Overall, we really enjoyed our 3 nights in Sinaia, and definitely recommend it.

    Next stop, lovely Sighisoara.
    • PompeyPete
    • By PompeyPete 4th Jul 18, 8:31 AM
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    PompeyPete
    9,10, and 11 June

    Our train to Sighisoara is at 0750, so we're up early. We had a packed breakfast ordered, and left the hotel at 0700.

    From leaving our room to arriving on the platform at Sinaia train station we had to negotiate a total of 206 steps, including 31 downward steps at the train station subway followed by another 31 upward steps to the platform. Yep, we could have got a taxi, but we only use them when we really need to.

    Out tickets for the 4 hour, 173 Km journey cost the equivalent of £9.50 each. The train, which had originated in Bucharest, arrived on time. The carriages were different on this train. Our train from Bucharest had big open carriages with seats of 2 with 2 facing opposite, an aisle down the middle and the same seat layout on the other side of the aisle. The carriages on this train had compartments of 8, 4 seats opposite 4 seats, with an aisle running along one bulkhead. Our reserved seats were empty for us, but the compartment was full. There wasn't room on the overhead rack, so we had to part our pull-along bags the aisle outside the compartment.

    The compartment was quite stuffy, and a little claustrophobic. We spent a fair bit of the journey still outside in the aisle with the window open for a bit of fresh air. Note: Don't stick you head out of the window, as you'll soon lose it!

    The journey seemed to be never ending, but the views were great. I was hoping for mountains all the way, but had to settle for rolling hills, lots of agriculture, loads of sheep, a few lakes, and a mass of green. Note: The train ran parallel to the odd main road, the traffic was very light, and looked ideal for people who prefer to travel by hire car.

    The train arrived at Sighisoara on time at 1140. Clambered off, we were able to cross the rail line rather than go down and up more steps. It was a lovely warm day, so we took an easy flat walk to our hotel in the Lower Town, which took about 20 minutes.

    Note: Signisoara is where Vlad the Impaler was born. His father was Vlad Dracul, otherwise known as Dracula. So as you can imagine the place is very popular with day trippers, and tour groups.
    • PompeyPete
    • By PompeyPete 4th Jul 18, 8:33 AM
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    PompeyPete
    Sighisoara has a Lower Town, and Upper Town [Citadel]. The Lower Town has less character but is more practical, the Upper Town oozes character as do the cobbled lanes leading up to it.

    Our hotel, the Pensuinea Gasthaus Alte Post is a lovely, lovely place with lots of history and character. Our picture perfect room was on the 2nd floor [more steps, this time a wide wooden staircase]. One problem though.....the wifi reception was atrocious, but never mind. The hotel had a beautiful restaurant, different rooms, beautifully decorated and decked out.

    Getting to the Upper Town was easy, just walk outside the hotel, and start climbing the cobbled lane. Plenty to look at on the way up. Once you arrive at the Upper Town it's simply wonderful. No need to explain everything, it's all online. But to make the most of the Upper Town you need to be reasonable fit, eg. the [enclosed] Pupils Stairway, built in 1642 to protect pupils access to the school at the top, has a staircase totalling of 176 wooden steps. Above the school is the Evangelical Church on the Hill. If you want 360 degree views of the surrounding area then you need to make your way up there.

    During our stay in Sighisoara we visited, by public bus, the town of Targu Mures, which is an hour north of Sighisoara. It's a nice run out through beautiful green and clean countryside. The town is quite big, but the bus drops you v.close to the historical centre and Citadel. You get the bus from the small bus station, which is next to the train station. They run hourly throughout the day, the single fare is £2.75, we got the 0930 departure. You'll notice lots of gypsy folk around town, all dressed in traditional costume. Well worth a day out.

    Next, Sibiu.
    • michele-p
    • By michele-p 4th Jul 18, 10:56 AM
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    michele-p
    Great report, I'll have a read with a cup of tea when I have a bit longer to read it all.
    • PompeyPete
    • By PompeyPete 5th Jul 18, 9:07 AM
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    PompeyPete
    Some more observations:

    - Self drive. Apart from in main towns, driving looked as though it'd be a pleasure. On the trains we took we often ran parallel to main roads, which were mainly either free of traffic or it was very light. However, parking in towns looked as though it could be a challenge, with pay and park being the norm. Everywhere you need to pay to park there were always 'keen' enforcement staff.

    - Weather. It was very warm, sometimes hot, and occasionally humid. It also rained a lot, usually in the afternoon, but not always. Often the rain came in monsoon proportions, and went on for a few hours. But we never let the rain put us off. The low cloud often made wherever we were look a bit spooky. So best to get a weather check before setting off for the day, and even if the forecast looks clear, we tended to err on the side of caution and take a brolly.

    - What to wear. Casual dress is the norm. I don't travel to impress anyone, and all I wore for the duration were cargo shorts, T-shirt, gilet [keep our money secure], and sturdy walking shoes. I think I wore a light fleece a couple of times.
    • PompeyPete
    • By PompeyPete 5th Jul 18, 9:09 AM
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    PompeyPete
    12,13,14, and 15 June - Sibiu

    Getting from Sighisoara to Sibiu by train is a bit of a pain. I think there's one direct train at silly o'clock in the morning, and another one just after midday. So we had to get a slow train to a place called Medias, hang around for nearly 2 hours [people watched from a bar], and catch another slow train to Sibiu. First train left Sighisoara at 0936, and the 2nd train left Media at 1225 arriving at Sibiu at 1418. So just short of 5 hours to do 95 Km, probably shorter by road. I also checked the buses, but the difference was only marginal, and we prefer trains. The plus side was that the single fare for just over £2 each. The scenery for the whole trip was glorious, no mountains though, just green rolling hills.

    Both trains were clean, no a/c though, so it did get a bit stuffy. Both trains stopped regularly, and the 2nd train stopped at one station for half an hour to allow a faster train to pass. Both trains were also practically empty. When we arrived at Sibiu, the trained shunted into a siding, and we literally had a jump to get off.

    From Sibiu train station we had a straightforward 5 minute walk to our accommodation which was a gorgeous ground floor studio in a quiet area of the Lower Town. I'd contacted the owner a couple of days prior with our estimated time of arrival. She was there as arranged waiting to us, was extremely pleasant, and provided us with lots of useful info.

    Sibiu was arguably the best place we stayed on the trip. The Upper Town is straight out of National Geographic, spread over three adjoining Squares [Piatas], Immaculately clean, flat [once you've got up there], lots to see and do. There was an Annual International Theatre Festival on for our duration, much of which was free and performed outside in the Upper Town. The architecture in both the Lower and Upper Towns is very impressive, and invariably beautifully maintained. Plenty of place to eat, drink and be merry, particularly in the 3 Piatas.

    A must, must see in Sibiu is the outdoor Astra Museum [Muzeul Satului], which is basically a working recreation of a traditional Transylvanian old village, with a couple of lakes thrown in. We spent almost 3 hours there, it was raining for most of the time, but we loved it. Ticket is £3. There a decent restaurant onsite, and a couple of refreshment huts. Get there from a bus stop right outside the train station, bus No.13, takes about 25 minutes, get off at the final stop right opposite the entrance. We got the the 0947 bus there and 1338 bus back to Sibiu. Bus ticket is 2 Ron each way, buy from machine by the bus stop [don't forget to validate. as soon as you get on the bus].

    We also had a morning run out to a ski resort called Paltinis high above the clouds, about 35 Km out of Sibiu. It's a lovely scenic ride up by public bus, which takes an hour. Sadly, out of season there wan't much to do. Bus No.22 from outside the train station. Pay the driver, 9 RON single.

    Next stop, Brasov for 6 nights.
    • PompeyPete
    • By PompeyPete 9th Jul 18, 11:56 AM
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    PompeyPete
    16 to 21 June - Brasov

    When we went to Sibiu train station to book our trip to Brasov we'd not that the service between the 2 places were infrequent. It was either catch a semi sleeper' train that had originated in Vienna at 1040, which took about 2 hours, or a slow train at 1155 which took 3 minutes short of 4 hours. The distance being 150 Kms! Obviously the former was the best, but damn it was fully booked, so the slow train it had to be. The cost of a ticket was £3.60 each, cheap as chips.

    We decided to have a lazy morning and vacate the very comfortable Studio Mai at 1100, have a slow walk to the train station , loading up food at a bakery on the way. Note: The food from the bakeries in Romania are to die for. Each town seems to have it's Regional favourites.

    The train originated in Sibiu, so there was plenty of room on it, and it was comfortable enough, or it would have been if there's been any a/c. There wasn't, it was a hot day, so we had to suck it, and manage by opening the few small windows there were, plus getting in air from the open doors during the many stops the train made in the next 4 hours. Those 4 hours went on forever, we almost ran out of water, but our supplies were delicious. The scenery was amazing, just as it had been on all our previous train rides in Transylvania. The train arrived a couple of minutes early.

    I'd read on Trip Advisor lots of negative stories about taxi drivers at Brasov train station, and that it was best to catch the No.4 public bus to the Historical Area. It couldn't have been easier, I never noticed any taxi drivers touting, and the bus ticket kiosk was immediately in front of us as we walked out of the main entrance, and in front of that was where we needed to catch the No.4 bus. Tickets cost 2 RON each, make sure you validate them as soon as you get on the bus. The bus left at 1600, and arrived at our destination 10 minutes later.

    Our accommodation, Residence Piata Sfatului, was right in the Main Square, Piata Sfatului. It couldn't have been more central.

    Brasov is dominated by the forested Mount Tampa, which sticks out with a massive BRASOV sign at the top of it, similar to the HOLLYWOOD sign in Hollywood. It's illuminated at night. There's a cable-car which runs frequently during the day up to the top of Mount Tampa, more on that follows.

    We spent or first evening in Brasov wandering round , and having a few drinks. Apart from Piata Sfatului, the main tourist pedestrianised street it Strada Republicii, whis runs off the Piata. It buzzes at night, loads of outdoor restaurants and cafes, full of colour. Ditto on the numerous side roads that merge into it.

    Brasov's historical area is mainly flat, the City Walls need a bit of physical effort, as does getting up to the Citadel. No need to visit the latter as it's closed, but the views from up there are pretty good. The architecture is or should be be easy on the eye, but there is a lot of graffiti, most it completely unnecessary.

    Places we visited during our Brasov stay were...

    - Schei Quarter. This area is a 15 minutes easy walk from the Piata Sfatului, and best accessed via the arched Schei Gate. Just before the Schei Gate is the Brasov Jewish Synagogue, but the Synagogue gate was closed everytime we were up that way. We went to Schei on our first day, and while it was an interesting walk, and there's a pretty church there, I didn't quite see much else of interest.

    - The Citadel. The Fortress Hill Citadel is detached from the Historical Area, and sits high on a hill. We had an enjoyable hike up there on a hot day, and while it looked quite impressive from the outside, it was closed. No sign of any opening times, but the views from up there are pretty good.

    - Poiana Brasov. This is Romania's premier ski resort, and is easy to reach by No.20 bus. Get the bus from the same place as the No.4 arrives and departs from. A ticket from the kiosk opposite costs 5 RON each single.....don't forget to validate the ticket. The buses are frequent, and the scenic 12 Km uphill ride takes about 30 minutes. We had a good wander around Poiana, very picturesque. Out of season it was quite quiet, but it was obvious why the place is so popular.

    - The City Walls. The City walls are very interesting, quite lengthy, 3 bastions and several towers. Lots of description boards in English as you wander along, and places to sit and relax.

    - Mount Tampa. It's impossible to miss Mount Tampa because of the big BRASOV sign at the top of the forested mountain. We made quite a serious miscalculation on the day we visited. It began alright, it was quite a walk to the cable-car station, ie lots of steps, didn't mind that that as lots of steps usually keeps old peoples tour groups away. It opens at 0930, we got there just before and thre was no queue. Cost of a ticket is 10 RON to go up or down, or 18 RON for a return. We got singles, with the miscalculated intention of walking down by path. Nice scenic ride up, takes less than 3 minutes. At the top there's a cafe and bar/restaurant. From there, there's a fairly dodgy path that leads to a viewing point by the BRASOV sign. It's only about 250 yards away and was a bit dodgy as it was slippery underfoot on the very uneven limestone track. We made it no problem, and the views were worth it. But after heavy rain, or if your mobility is questionable then give it a miss. In fact unless you're going to go to the viewing platform, and then intend walking back down to town there isn't much point in going on the cable-car in the first place because everywhere is forested with little to no views.

    What was our miscalculation? Well, we decided to walk back down Mount Tampa. There were a few signs at the top, either red or yellow. For some reason I hadn't consulted Rough Guide well enough, and erroneously chose the yellow sign. Although the directions were clear enough with yellow signs appearing regularly on trees, the terrain was anything but straightforward with lots of clambering, often slippery limestone ground, steep at times. By the time we thought that this really wasn't a good idea we'd reached a point of no return. In hindsight we should have returned as we'd hardly got going. Reaching flat ground eventually, we'd been hiking, slipping and cursing for just short of 2 hours, and were shattered, sweaty and filthy. Fortunately we'd had plenty of water with us. What we should have done at the top was to follow the red signs, which form an easy zig-zag path all the way down. Lesson learned......until next time!

    ....Apart from the above we just spent our time wandering in around, and enjoying Brasov. During the week we also got the No4 bus to the train station to buy our tickets back to Bucharest. There's a train at 0840, which arrives at Bucharest's Gara de Nord at 1105, which was ideal. Ticket including allocated seats were £9.50 each. Again o sign of any taxi touts wandering round, perhaps they've been banned from inside the train station and concourse outside. We also had a good look around the Brasov train station area, described as a drab concrete suburb, but we quite enjoyed the area, and spent longer in a bar than we ought to have.
    • Sleazy
    • By Sleazy 9th Jul 18, 12:24 PM
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    Sleazy
    Thanks Pete, made interesting reading.
    I've been over to Romania quite a few times and to quite a few of the places you mentioned. Never to Sighisoara or Sibiu though.

    Wife is visiting her parents in August, but too hot for me, so I'll be staying here.
    (P)earl Of The Alphabetty
    Nabob Of None
    • PompeyPete
    • By PompeyPete 9th Jul 18, 2:00 PM
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    PompeyPete
    Thanks Pete, made interesting reading.
    I've been over to Romania quite a few times and to quite a few of the places you mentioned. Never to Sighisoara or Sibiu though.

    Wife is visiting her parents in August, but too hot for me, so I'll be staying here.
    Originally posted by Sleazy
    It was very warm to hot when we were there, but it also rained quite a lot too, which was refreshing and cooling. Lots of thunder and lightening, particularly in Sinaia and Sighisoara, which added to the Transylvanian atmosphere. Time to eat, drink, enjoy the scenery, and people watch then.
    • PompeyPete
    • By PompeyPete 10th Jul 18, 7:44 AM
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    PompeyPete
    22 June - Bucharest

    Up early, leaving our accommodation at 0715 for the 5 minute walk to the bus stop for the No.4 bus to the train station The train, which started in Brasov set off on time at 0840. We spent most the journey talking a very pleasant 25ish Romanian bloke who had recently finished University and was working part time in Bran Castle. Although he was very interesting and rhymed off lots of Romanian History including quite a lot about Vlad the Impaler, I'd rather have enjoyed the scenery. One other thing he did mention was that the Romanians in general aren't happy with the current ruling political Establishment, and that there could easily be trouble, maybe not on the scale of the Ceausescu era, but trouble all the same.

    The train arrived at Gara de Nord on time, we had the short walk to the Ibis Hotel for the night.

    That afternoon, our only afternoon in Bucharest, we planned on walking to Downtown Bucharest. The map in Rough Guide looked clear enough to me, but somehow we went badly out of our way, and then almost came to physical grief.

    We'd just, by only a couple of seconds walked round a corner at a busy junction, when I heard the unmistakable meatallic shriek of brakes and accident about to happen.....fortunately we were facing away from the impending crash. A second later a 4x4 hit a solid wall head on, and another saloon car hit the wall side on. Immediate silence, loads of dust, and my wife shouting ".....somethings just hit me in the back". The only thing I could see that could have hit her was a lump of concrete on the ground close to her, about the size of two clenched fists. She was obviously shocked, had the wind knocked out of her, and sore. I told her to turn round, there was no sign of anything hitting her, ie her blouse was completely intact, and as bruises don't show immediately, her back looked aright. She didn't look [to me] injured enough to need to get to hospital, was still as steady as normal on her feet, and I didn't really want to hang around until the police and ambulances for the injured in the cars arrived. So we retreated, and slowly made our way back to the Ibis.....rested up for a while, and then went for a few stiff drinks and reflected on our lucky escape. It wasn't long before the bruise on her back came up, a nice deep purple, the size of a fist.....over 2 weeks later it still hasn't fully gone.

    So I can't report much on how we found Bucharest.

    23 June - Flight home

    Our Tarom Air flight back to Heathrow was due to leave at 1230, so we caught the 780 bus to the Airport at 0900 from just outside Gara de Nord. When I tried to validate one of our [return] tickets it refused to validate, so on the way into Bucharest when we arrived I must have done a double validation on the ticket. Fortunately, no ticket inspectors got on the bus, and I avoided the possibility of a Fine.

    The Checking-in Hall at the Airport isn't very well laid out, hardly any seating, and until the check-in desks for your flight show on the board you have little choice but to hang around. Our flight was on the board along with other Tarom fflights.....we waited and waited for the check-in desks to show on the board, and people were queueing, jostling and queue jumping. Little information, but we soon found out that the Tarom electronic check-in system had got a system failure. To cut a long story short, we were stood for over 3 hours before finally the system was restored, and we were able to check-in Passport Control and security.

    The flight passed without incident.

    Not the best way to end our thoroughly enjoyable holiday in Romania. We'll definitely be back next year, a few days in Bucharest this time, and then fly to a different part of the country.

    Thanks for reading.
    • Sleazy
    • By Sleazy 10th Jul 18, 9:38 PM
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    Sleazy
    Thanks Pete, I've gone over to Romania for most of the past 20 years to see family and seen a lot of changes. My preferred airline used to be BA, but now it's TAROM because I like the flight times better and you still get fed! My wife if flying Blue Air from Luton this year because it suits better.

    I went last year in september to help with the wine making. I might go September / October this year and help to make Tuica ...
    (P)earl Of The Alphabetty
    Nabob Of None
    • Pyxis
    • By Pyxis 13th Sep 18, 8:27 AM
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    Pyxis
    If you want to make enquiries about this sort of holiday, do you ring Transylvania 6-5000?
    (I just lurve spiders! )
    INFJ(Turbulent).

    Her Greenliness Baroness Pyxis of the Alphabetty, Pinnacle of Peadom and Official Brainbox
    Founder Member: 'WIMPS ANONYMOUS' and 'VICTIMS of the RANDOM HEDGEHOG'
    I'm in a clique! It's a clique of one! It's a unique clique!
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