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280 travelers at this place:

  • Day253

    Another 6 hour lay-over, in Romania

    May 8 in Romania ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    After a delicious lamb dinner at the Canadian Embassy (thanks to Peter, Samuel and Tavi for sharing their home, their supper, and their perspectives on life in Jordan), we headed to the airport for our 3:55 AM flight to Bucharest, followed by a 6 hour lay-over before heading to Rome... whew! Memories of being a student traveller, sleeping on airport floors, and weighing out how much you really need that second uber-expensive cup of coffee... we finally arrived at our extremely dingy, over-priced apartment around 5PM... but the kids are thrilled to be back in the land of food they recognize!Read more

  • Day23

    The eyes of Sibiu

    June 8 in Romania ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C

    After returning to Sibiu we spent the afternoon walking in the old town and city walls, had some tea in the main square (currently hosting a food festival), and hosted a caching event at a local cafe.

    Many of the houses in Sibiu look like they are watching you with eyes on their roof, but it's actually a venting system for their attics. Most were built between the 15th and 19th centuries, when the attic was used to smoke meat. The fireplace in the house vented into the attic where the meat was hanging and the eyes allowed the smoke to escape.Read more

  • Day18

    Dracula unpacked

    June 3 in Romania ⋅ 🌧 18 °C

    After lunch we visited Bran Castle, aka Dracula's Castle. But how did it become so...
    Here's all the pieces to the puzzle....

    The castle is a medieval fortress built in 1382 in Bran Pass, a strategic location only metres from the border of Transylvania and Wallachia Provinces. Its main function was customs duty collecting and defending the border.

    Vlad Tepes III (Vlad the Impaler) was the King of Wallachia and famed for his favourite method of torturing his enemies by impaling them on greased poles, ensuring a prolonged death and a graphic display to any other invaders of their likely fate.

    Vlad's father (Vlad Tepes II) was admitted to the Order of the Dragon and was known as Vlad Dracul (dragon in Romanian), so his son became Vlad Dracula (son of Dracul).

    Vlad the Impaler only visited Bran Castle a handful of times with his father when he was young. The most time he spent there was 2 weeks... in the dungeon as a prisoner after he was captured by enemy forces.

    In Romanian mythology, the evil part of a dead person's soul (the Strigoi) doesn't leave the body until it is exhumed, and a wooden stake driven through the heart to release the spirit.

    Countess Elizabeth Bathory was a Hungarian noble woman, whose family ruled Transylvania for a time, who reputedly killed 650 young girls and bathed in their blood in an attempt to keep her skin young.

    Bram Stoker never visited Romania but took the bits he liked from all of the above, added a vampire and garlic, and Count Dracula was born ☺

    Stoker wrote that Dracula "inhabited a decaying castle in the Carpathian Mountains" - the Romanian tourism authorities in the 1970's thought Bran Castle fitted this description and encouraged the link in the pursuit of tourism dollars... which continue strongly to this day!
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  • Day27

    Big British Bucharest Quiz

    June 12 in Romania ⋅ 🌫 30 °C

    Our last full day in Romania was the hottest of the whole trip, with 32 degrees forecast.

    We left the hotel about 9am for a walk to the east of the city. We bought some apricots from a street seller and continued through the backstreets until we reached the Fireman's Tower. Originally designed as a fire lookout tower and water storage, it was never used for the latter because there were no pumps in the country strong enough to pump the water up, so it was used as lookout tower until the buildings around it got taller and blocked the view.

    We had tea in the old town, before attending the Big British Bucharest Quiz Night, Europe's largest quiz night, held every fortnight. It's held over 2 floors in an old town bar, with big screen and cameras used to relay the action upstairs. There were 37 tables competing (200 attendees). As I'd emailed the quiz master to register our attendance, he gave us a goodie basket of Romanian souvenirs and included a number of Australian questions... which thankfully we got correct! We were a table of 3, with Marina, the host's girlfriend... and we finished 10th overall !☺
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  • Day16

    Palace of Parliament

    June 1 in Romania ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    Another day discovering Bucharest, this time by bike. We were walking toward the Old Town and came across the outdoor office of a bike hire company and discovered that a half day bike tour had just departed. He offered us a discounted price and we could catch up with them at their first stop, so we paid our money, chose our bikes and headed off with another guide to join the tour.

    We toured the Old Town, followed by the Jewish Quarter, a gypsy neighbourhood and Antims Chuch, which was relocated in one piece about 200m to make way for Communist style housing blocks.

    The highlight of the tour was the Palace of Parliament, the second largest administration building in the world (after The Pentagon), and the heaviest building in the world. For its construction, 7 square kilometres of the old city centre was demolished, with 40,000 people being relocated. It has 8 levels underground and 20km of tunnels linking it to other government offices. Of the 3000 rooms, 70% are still empty.

    We rode back to the centre of town to Revolutionary Square, site of Ceausescu's last speech before he escaped the city by helicopter from the rooftop (he was captured later that day and executed live on TV 2 days later).

    We had late lunch in the old town, grabbed some caches and dinner, then returned to our apartment to watch the UEFA Champions League final in Romanian!
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  • Day19

    Rasnov and bears

    June 4 in Romania ⋅ 🌧 18 °C

    Early start for the drive to Rasnov, so we were on the doorstep when Rasnov Fortress opened at 9am.

    Rasnov Fortress was built in 1225 as a safe haven for the villagers, who were forced to live there for extended periods. It was conquered only once, in 1612. The defeat was caused by the lack of water due to the enemy troops discovering the secret spring supplying the fortress. To remove this weakness, they began digging a well, finally striking water 17 years later at a depth of 146 metres!

    To replace the missed hike two days ago, we visited Libearty Bear Sanctuary, a retirement home for bears confiscated from captivity in Romania. Most are so traumatised after years of captivity and being forced to perform that they aren't suitable for release into the wild, so they live their days out in the 69 hectares of (fenced) natural habitat.

    We returned to Brasov for lunch and an afternoon walk, which was curtailed by torrential rain. We returned to the hotel until the weather improved, then went out for an evening walk and dinner in a backstreet bistro.
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  • Day21

    Deep in Turda

    June 6 in Romania ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    We left Sighisoara early to arrive in Biertan when the fortified church opened.

    We were greeted by a group of locals discussing the issues of the day over a beer at the street cafe... and it was 9.30am!

    Biertan Fortified Church (1493) is a huge Lutheran Church, surrounded by 3 levels of fortifications, and only has a handful of buildings within the defensive ring. It's unique feature is the door lock system on the sancristy, the room to protect the village's valuables. It has 19 locks, 4 activated by one key, and 15 by a rotating removable handle.

    The drive to Turda was much slower than planned, as we got caught in some major traffic jams caused by road works on the new Transylvanian Highway.

    The main attraction in Turda is the salt mine, Salina Turda. It was an operating salt mine from the 16th century to 1932, then opened as a tourist attraction in 1992. It now contains an underground amusement park at a depth of 112m, with ferris wheel, row boats, mini golf, a playground, snooker and table tennis tables and ten pin bowling.

    Overnight in Alba Iulia.
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  • Day17

    Peles Castle, papanasi and Sinaia

    June 2 in Romania ⋅ 🌧 16 °C

    We left Bucharest this morning to start our 9 day tour of Romania. Our guide Gabriel picked us up at 9am and we headed north, first stop, the town of Snagov.

    Snagov Monastery is built on an island in Snagov Lake and is the alleged final resting place of Vlad Tepes (aka Vlad the Impaler, aka Vlad Dracul) - his head was sent to Constantinople to prove his death to the Ottoman Rulers, but the destination of his body is in dispute... but more about him in a couple of days...

    We continued north via Ploiesti, site of the world's first large oil refinery (1856), to Sinaia, visiting the monastery, notable for the interior painting style, including one of the first king of Romania, Carol I shown dressed as an officer, with his right hand upon a rock pillar with a missing piece symbolising the missing Romanian territories at that time.

    We had lunch at a local eatery, with soup and bread for main, then for dessert a Romanian specialty, papanași (pronounced papanash), a donut made with soft cheese and egg, topped with blueberry jam and sour cream.

    After lunch we walked to Peles Castle, the former summer palace of Carol I. It was built between 1883 and 1914 and has 170 rooms decorated in many different styles, elaborate wood carvings throughout, 2000 artworks, a collection of 4000 pieces of arms and armor, and an electric powered retractable stained glass roof in the entrance hall. It was impossible to take in the detail in each room in the time we had.

    We drove to our accommodation in the upper reaches of Sinaia (it's a ski resort town in winter), then walked 1.5km down to town to grab a few caches and have some tea. We caught a taxi back up to the hotel - best A$2.60 spent!
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  • Day18

    Prejmer Fortified Church and Brasov

    June 3 in Romania ⋅ 🌧 18 °C

    Change of plans today due to the rainy weather - we were scheduled to hike to Seven Ladders Canyon, but it was closed because of the slippery conditions.

    We headed to Prejmer Fortified Church, built in 1240. When invaders entered the Buzău Pass, Prejmer was the first place they encountered and the village was destroyed over 50 times between the 13th and 17th centuries, but the church was never captured. The church is surrounded circular by a 12m high and 5m thick wall. On the interior side of the wall are four levels containing 270 rooms to housr the 1600 villagers in case of attack.

    After visiting Bran Castle, we had a walking tour of Brasov, the largest city in Romania by area. It is a walled city with a large town square and Hollywood style sign on the hill above.
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  • Day20

    Viscri to Sighisoara

    June 5 in Romania ⋅ 🌫 23 °C

    Early departure from Brasov with only one stop at Viscri on the way to Sighisoara.

    Viscri's claim to fame is that Prince Charles owns, and restored a house there...oh, and they have a spectacular 13th century church, fortified in 1500.

    The church and fortifications are much smaller than Prejmer, as the villagers only fled here in times of attack and lived for short periods, but the church and village are both incredibly well preserved. The chuch has an austere interior with an all wooden gallery, with a stone tower with sweeping views across the village and surrounding farmland.

    The Lard Tower in the perimeter wall was used to store the village supplies of cured meats up until the early 1990's, as the village had no electricity for refrigeration. Each family marked their meat with their house number and the tower was opened each Sunday at 7am when families would take their meat supplies for the week. An overseer would ensure they took only their own meat, and the tower wasn't opened again until the following week.

    We arrived in Sighisoara eatly afternoon and had lunch in the main square of the citadel before doing a walking tour. Sighisoara features the only continuously inhabited citadel in Romania, with a small number of families still living in the walled city atop the hill overlooking the city. A majority of the city walls, the clock tower and 9 of it's 16 towers are still intact, along with most of the colourful houses.

    We walked the citadel again by ourselves in the late afternoon, then wandered through the cemetery (in search of a cache), before returning to the citadel for a late tea - and another papanasi, this time made the traditional way and boiled instead of being deep fried.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

România, Romania, Rumänien, Roemenië, Romenia, ሮሜኒያ, Rumanía, رومانيا, ܪܘܡܢܝܐ, Romaniya, Румынія, Румъния, Rumani, রুমানিয়া, རོ་མཱ་ནིཡ།, Roumania, Rumunija, ᎶᎹᏂᏯ, Rumunsko, Rwmania, Rumænien, Romania nutome, Ρουμανία, Rumanio, Rumeenia, Errumania, رومانی, Rumanii, Rumenia, Roumanie, Roemeenje, An Rómáin, Romàinia, Romanía, રોમાનિયા, רומניה, रोमानिया, Rumunjska, Rumunska, Woumani, Románia, Ռումինիա, Rumania, Rúmenía, ルーマニア, romanias, რუმინეთი, Rumænia, រូម៉ានី, ರೊಮ್ಯಾನಿಯಾ, 루마니아, ڕۆمانیا, Roumani, Lomaniya, Romani, ລູເມເນຍ, Rumānija, Романија, റുമേനിയ, Rumanija, ရိုမေးနီးယား, Romainiya, Rumiinii, ରୋମାନିଆ, Rumunia, Romanìa, Romênia, Rumaniya, Rumuniya, Румыния, Rumanìa, Rumanïi, රුමේනියාව, Romunija, Rumaaniya, Румунија, ருமேனியா, రోమానియా, Roménia, Руминия, ประเทศโรมาเนีย, Rumanya, Lomēnia, Romanya, رۇمىنىيە, Румунія, رومانیا, Ru-ma-ni-a (Romania), Rumän, Roumaneye, רומעניע, Orílẹ́ède Romaniya, 羅馬尼亞, i-Romania

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