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54 travelers at this place:

  • Day192

    Das Eishotel in Rumänien

    November 8, 2017 in Romania

    Richtig irre! Ich könnte endlich das Eishotel besuchen! Schon so lange habe ich davon geträumt! Es ist wirklich ein ganz besonderer Ort und ich muss noch mal kommen um eine Nacht zu bleiben. Aber ich könnte mir auch die Zimmer anschauen! Richtig cool!
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  • Day51

    Romania - Timisaora

    September 2, 2016 in Romania

    Crossed the border into Romania without a hitch. I went through a very quiet border crossing without any waiting at all. The border guards were so viligent I offered to take my helmet off, so they could make sure the passport was mine, but no need...stamped my passport and just waived me through.....didn't take my helmet off so couldn't even say it was my good looks or honest face.

    Stopped at a cute little town (Sinnicolai-Mare) and sat down for lunch, at the town square with the locsls, who ordered for me when they saw me struggling with the menu just how did they know I wanted a meat (beef?) skewer and a bottle of mineral water. Sat and ate with an older couple (well older than me) and we had a pleasant conversation (with plenty of miming) that I'm sure none of us understood.

    I stayed at the hotel Perla (damn good hotels are cheap in some parts of Europe). Perla by name and a Perla by nature, huge room with a sitting area/couch, minibar and a spa bath...yep I had a good long soak probably needed it, had a feeling I might have been a bit on the nose (ask me one day and I'll tell you how many days you can really go with one set of clothes).

    Tomorrow riding onto Craiova - still in Romania
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  • Day52

    Craiova - I'm still in Romania

    September 3, 2016 in Romania

    Most of the ride down from Timisoara was fairly flat, straight and predictable. Predictable that is until you come over a rise, around a corner and a beautiful lake, bordered by a cute little town) comes into view - not something I was expecting (see the pic below). Well, as it turns out, wasn't actually a lake, apparently that reasonably famous river, the DANUBE runs down this way!!! I took a pic of a statue at a pull-off on the river, the statue is kewl, but it also seems as if there are some in Europe welcoming of refugees 👍.

    Stayed at a Ramada in Craiova, I'm starting to enjoy the luxury.

    Beautiful city with the obligatory large square where the local families gather to eat and drink.......I think we could do with one at Eatons Hill.

    I'm off the Serbi
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  • Day24

    In Cluj

    June 25, 2017 in Romania

    Back on track after my little diversion to Deva, I took a bus to Cluj Napoca a town I knew nothing about except that it was within striking distance of Salina Turda. I first heard about Salina Turda when researching my trips back in 2014, and while I never managed to get there then, I wasn't going to miss out now that I had accidentally found myself in Romania.

    Salina Turda is 30 minutes out of town and is an old underground salt mine that has been turned into an attraction, and is brilliantly surreal. Entering through a crashed UFO looking visitors centre, you rug up for the constant 10 degree temperatures underground and walk down a long mine shaft, cut directly into the weeping black and white salt deposit, which gives the walls an alien look and feel. There are some exhibits showing off some of the original mining equipment, but that's a minor distraction from the main attraction, which is the 13 story high bell shaped cuts into the salt that have been transformed into a wonderland of lights, ferries wheels, games and a lake complete with row boats. It's like a Bond villain suddenly decided to open a child care centre in his underground lair, it's truely bizarre, but unbelievable awesome and would have made the trip to Cluj worth it alone. However, as it turned out Cluj turned out to be one of the favourite places I have ever been.

    Arriving in the hostel in Cluj, I immediately realised this place was different. Within a couple of hours I'd met 3 people who had originally booked a couple of days, but were still there weeks later, having missed trains and buses, not being able to leave. This included Gazel a Japanese guy who has been traveling nonstop for 4 years, 1 year of which has been living in this very hostel, returning every time he could get a visa again and not leaving until he had to. At first glance, there was no obvious reason why, Cluj doesn't have any real 'attractions' or excitement, and was seriously beginning to wonder if there were drugs in the water or a cult I was going to be indoctrinated into. I joined some people from the hostel for dinner and drinks that first night and still didn't understand, after Budapest the nightlife was pretty underwhelming and nothing was adding up so went to bed confused and sleeping with one eye open to ensure I could get the jump on anyone who tried to drag me to the indoctrination. However, the more time I spent in the city, the more it made sense and while, I didn't extend my stay for weeks, I did stay an extra day having been 'Clujed' like everyone assured me would happen. It is truely the Goldilock's of cities, not too big, not too small. Compact and easily walkable, highly cosmopolitan, it's beauthiful without being pretentious and is full of little surprises and hidden spots to be explored. Best of all, it just has one of those chilled vibes where you could get lost in yourself and surroundings finding time slipping by without even noticing.

    It helped that the hostel was incredibly social and full of the most eclectic and diverse bunch of people I've ever met. Gazel, who from his own admission, has gone slightly mad from being on the road too long and wants to go home, but is too far removed from everyday world to feel like he'll ever be able to reintegrate into society, so instead was spending his time roping people into staring into his abstract films he was making. Lilla a mid 30's 'lady of leisure' who was a commodity trader in London for 10 years, but was now studying psychology at the local university, having decided she couldn't be party to the global oil trade any longer. Ahmed the Tunisian engineer, who had bought and missed 3 tickets to leave Cluj, but was still there 3 weeks late. Andrew, a Sri Lankan doctor working in Ireland, who was supposed to be in Bucharest arranging logistics for a contingent of Irish resident doctors coming for a visit, but having glimpsed what life can look like when you aren't working 100 hours a week was spending most if his days on the phone trying to negotiate leave so he wouldn't have to leave.

    Every night ended up being far too late as we'd end up at some little bar or club, whether it was a bar made entirely out of cardboard, a rooftop microbrewery overlooking the entire city or underground clubs playing everything from 50's and 60's rock to heavy metal. On my final afternoon we just all went to the cities large city park with a bunch of beer, food and guitars and spent a fantastic evening chatting, listening to music until the sun finally went down, when we went to a psychedelic tea house out in the suburbs, where we spent the night lying around on pillows in the backyard on the grass looking up at the trees drinking beer and tea until we finally got kicked out, it was the perfect end to Cluj and summed up everything I, and everyone else, grew to love about the place.
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  • Day97


    September 6, 2017 in Romania

    "Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind." - Anthony Bourdain

    As I walked through the streets of Bucharest on my last night, indulging my nostalgia by revisiting the same places I had frequented 2 months previously with three of the best friends I made on the entire trip, I kept thinking over the above quote. I finish this trip both physically and emotionally exhausted, but despite the pain, tiredness, missteps and frustrations, I wouldn't have it any other way. True to my word, I left nothing on the table and tasted life to the fullest, I grew as a person, I was rewarded for saying yes to dubious opportunities, I made and lost friends from every corner of the world and I pushed my limits and, in doing so, gained new perspectives and confidence in my own capabilities and the world that I didn't know know were possible.

    Despite my early setbacks, my feet went further than I ever thought was possible, managing to walk the Theth-Valbone hike, not once, but twice in two days, was a massive personal achievement and something I have taken a lot of personal pride and confidence from. Backing myself to jump trains in southern Hungary, exploring Buzludzha solo and pushing Lada Gaga's limits with Han, while dubious decisions to say the least, gave me a renewed sense of personal strength and reminded me that nothing ventured is nothing gained. More than anywhere, Iran renewed my belief in the fundamental goodness of humanity and the importance of being humble in ones unearned and unwarranted privilege and the vigilance required to keep radicalism in check. I was also acutely reminded that travel is about the people as much as the places and I leave behind a string of friendships, some fleeting, some hopefully permanent, but all of who added an extra dimension and pleasure to my journey. Travelling with Han was also incredibly rewarding, opening up possibilities that would have otherwise eluded me and I will always be in debt for her photography lessons and her emotional support and advice. Finally, finishing my trip in Romania was a good reminder that, at its best, travel is the gorgeous feeling of teetering into the unknown, a country that I had dismissed as nothing more than Dracula and gothic castle proved to be so much more than I could have imagined and provided everything I have ever asked for in a destination.

    So I end the trip feeling physically exhausted, but emotionally fulfilled and excited to see Cadie and be home again. I am far from perfect at the best of times, but I maintain that I am my best self while travelling. Therefore, the challenge becomes how to apply some of those qualities I gain while travelling, openness, acceptance, curiousness and adventurousness, and bring them home with me.
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  • Day25


    June 26, 2017 in Romania

    The train from Cluj took me through the spellbindingly beautiful Transylvanian countryside, past little villages with commanding fortified churches and green like I have never seen before. Eventually, 5 hours later Sighasoara came into view, a view that hasn't changed much in over 600 years. Sighisoara is considered to be the most well preserved still inhabited citadel in Europe and is so pretty it should be illegal, it is like walking through a fairytale. A 12th century citadel built by Saxon mercenaries defending the Hungarian empires frontier, it's amazingly intact and still very much alive, with garishly coloured 16th century gingerbread houses surrounded by intact city walls and 9 of the original 14 defence towers. Each tower named after the guild charged with maintaining and fortifying them, which means they accurately represent the power and wealth of each craft, ranging from a simple rectangle with a single sloped roof to the block tower, a 14th century tower standing 64 meters tall and displaying vast amounts of pomp and bling, including the still working clock, which tracks the days of the week with wooden figurines. My favourite being the boot makers tower, simpler than many of the others, but situated in a quite corner of the citadel and impeccably positioned next to a small square. I had a great couple of days exploring the cobble stoned streets, exploring the towers and climbing the 12th century covered staircase to the church on the hill and its atmospheric and ramshackle cemetery spilling down the hill.Read more

  • Day28


    June 29, 2017 in Romania

    I had an absolutely epic few days in Brasov, and some of the most fun of the trip so far. I packed so much into the 4 days I was there that it's hard to know where to start or what the highlights were, but Brasov was absolutely beautiful and I met some absolutely fantastic people to share my experiences with, which made it that much better.

    Brasov is up in the Transylvanian mountains, another old Saxon citadel, which has retained much of it's old town charm and is beautifully located at the base of an imposing mountain garishly emblazoned with a Hollywood style sign (admittedly more tasteful than the artistic plantings that spelt out STALIN between 1950-1960) and a cable car that provides outstanding views. Again the town was full of great cafe's bars and resturants and was a great base from which to explore the many attractions close by.

    On my first full day I was joined by Gleb, a Russian heavy metal fan, on a trip out to Bran's castle (Dracula's castle) and Rasnov. Bran's castle is kind of one of those things you just have to do, even though you know it's going to be pretty terrible, and it lived up to expectations. Kitsch as hell, surrounded by an overwhelming number of souvenir stalls with proprietors dressed as Dracula and packed with day trippers and tour groups, it's best viewed from a distance and completely underwhelming inside, but packed with an improbable number of people moving in waves through narrow corridors and small rooms. Rasnov on the one other hand was excellent, empty, imposing, providing amazing views and complete with its very own Hollywood sign, it was a breath of fresh air.

    The next day 4 of us from the Hostel (2 Australian's, an Austrian and a Canadian) decided to hire a car and head to Sinaia to Peles Palace and up two cable cars to 2000 metres with the hope of hiking for a couple of hours to a mountain top hut where we heard had amazing views, food and drink. Peles Palace was one of the most impressive palaces I have ever been too, built between 1880 and 1914, it was the summer palace of the Romanian royal family and is surrounded by the most spectacular mountain and forest scenery. I decided not to pay the photo tax, so have no photos from inside, but it's absolutely astounding. 160 rooms full of the most intricate wood, glass and stonework, it's a showcase of the best of the best of late 19th century craftsmanship, and rivals, or best, anything I have seen in any other place in Europe. The detail is astounding and I'm still marvelling at it. After finishing at Peles, we headed to the cable car and took the rickety old cable cars to the mountain peak and were greeted by the strongest winds I have ever experienced! The views were amazing and it was fun getting blown off our feet, but it did put paid to any ideas of doing the planned hike, so instead we headed back down after an hour or so and headed back to Brasov for an early night to prepare for the next days epic adventure, the Transfăgărășan.

    The Transfăgărășan is the best road in the world according to Top Gear and the dream of driving it has been on my bucket list for years since I first heard about it. Also known as Ceausescu's Folly, it's a 90 kilometre mountain road crossing the Carpathian Mountains between the two highest peaks in the country and was built by the military in the early 1970's using 6 million kilograms of dynamite and at the cost of over 40 lives, it is only open for a few months over summer, between June and September. Since then it has become renowned world wide for its spectacular beauty as it snakes its way up a narrow pass, complete with numerous tunnels, endless twists and countless viaducts it didn't disappoint, especially with the amazing scenery and flocks of sheep tended by Shepard and their maremmas. Victor and Steff were kind enough to allow me to drive the entire route and I had an absolute blast, climbing up in the clear morning and after stopping at the peak for lunch and to look at the glacier lakes to descend through the fast moving rolling clouds that formed in the afternoon. I loved every second of it. The entire day too around 12 hours of driving and we didn't get back to Brasov until after 7pm when I had to grab a train to Bucharest.

    By the time I got to Bucharest at 11pm the most incredible storms had set in, which have resulted in flash flooding and widespread blackouts, which has put a dampener on my plans for sightseeing today, but on the plus side has given me an opportunity to catch up on the blog and start organising my documents for Iran, which is only in a couple of days.
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  • Day33


    July 4, 2017 in Romania

    Exiting the train late at night at the old dark soviet Bucharest train station leaking profusely from the massive thunderstorm raging over the city followed by a 1.5 km walk through the pouring rain due to the metro being closed due to flooding I arrived at my hostel, which lost power for over 12 hours, I finally saw the Romania I had been promised by my imagination. The storm didn't let up for over 24 hours, leading to widespread flash flooding and a forced day of planning, organisation and seeking refuge in cafes for hours on end. I did finally get out on my second day in the city, but I was a bit sightseen out, so after failing to gain entrance to the people's parliament due to not having brought my passport or having made a phone booking beforehand, I ended up just catching up with Steff, Victor and Sophie who had arrived from Brasov, chatting, wandering the old town and the bizarre grand boulevard and drinking coffee and beers in likely looking establishments, eventually ending up in one of the oldest and grandest restaurants in the city having one final hearty Romanian meal, washed down with palinka, the ubiquitous plum spirit.

    Bucharest was certainly very different to the rest of the places I had been in Romania, having had Ceausescu's heavy handed mark left on it, most notably in the form of the bizarre people's parliament, which is the second biggest administrative building in the world after the Pentagon and the 3.5 km long boulevard constructed in the 1980's that cuts directly through the centre of the city, cutting the old town in half and requiring the demolition of 10 per cent of the city and forced relocation of over 40,000 people. Today less than 30 per cent of the building is occupied and it's sinking at an alarming rate, probably due to the fact it weighs over 4 million tonnes. It's a fascinating city, and quite atmospheric with its bizarre mix of fading, but elegant, Austrian-Hungarian buildings next to brutalist communist monuments and buildings overshadowing countless orthodox churches. Unfortunately, I accidentally wiped my camera yesterday afternoon so lost 2 days worth of shots.

    At the end of the day, Romania exceeded and confounded all my expectations and gave me so many amazing experiences and memories that will stay with me forever. Exceeding beautiful and clean, varied, cosmopolitan, cheap and friendly it is the complete package, but best of all I met so many amazing people during my time in the country and who made the experiences that much better for being a part of it, which is exactly what I needed after the isolation of eastern Turkey. I'm seriously thinking about coming back in a couple of months on my way back through as there is so much more I have heard about that I want to go and see and do, but I also want to check out Bulgaria in case it surprises in the same way, so I guess we'll just have to wait and see.
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  • Day27


    June 28, 2017 in Romania

    The level of sophistication, culture and beauty of Romania continues to astound me. The picture I had in my head couldn't have been further removed from reality (with the notable exception of the proliferation of gothic castles and animal fat and carb heavy diet). Everything from the lush landscapes, the level of cleanliness and civic pride displayed in the towns and cities, which are full of beautiful architecture and buildings and the sophistication of the cafe and bar culture. Combined with the ridiculously good value, as mum said, it's a wonder that it's not overrun with tourists, the hoards of which still don't seem to have moved further east than Budapest.

    Sibiu was a perfect example, another well preserved Saxon citadel and much bigger than Sighisoara (39 towers to 14), it's grandness and impressiveness somewhat out of sync for a town of only 150,000 people. Centred around 3 squares, the biggest being a massive 100 by 150 metres, and split between the upper town and lower town still connected by a buttressed stairway, off of which was my hostel. It's also a constant hive of activity having the most festivals of any town in Romania (a beach volley ball and classical music festival being on during my stay). It was the EU's 2007 capital of culture, which came with a large amount of money to renovate and restore the old towns centre, which is still paying dividends and it was a very pleasant place to spend a couple of days exploring the cobble stone streets undulating downhill and sitting in the squares watching buskers, volleyball and kids playing in the squares fountains.
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  • Day96

    Vama Vechia

    September 5, 2017 in Romania

    It's appropriate that I finish this trip in a country that wasn't even on my radar, but that has provided me with so much. Crossing the border from Bulgaria was strangely nostalgic as the language, currency and familiar signs took me back to mid June when, after a disappointing 2 weeks in Eastern Turkey, Romania gave me everything I could have possibly imagined - great food, great friends and great experiences. I had heard about Vama Vechia on that visit, consistently ranked by those that had been as their favourite place in Romania, but I never managed to get there. However, while I was planning my route through Bulgaria to Istanbul I noticed how close it is to the Bulgarian border and Varna. This was obviously meant to be, so I turned north instead of south and found myself in Vama Vechia, the counter culture capital of Romania.

    Vama Vechia is a tiny village right on the Bulgarian border and grew to prominence in the heady days of the 1960's and 70's as a safe place away from the authorities where intellectuals and hippies could go to speak freely and embrace the freedoms that were denied them back in Bucharest. While it has grown and become more popular, it still retains a lot of its original culture, feel and sensibilities. Anything goes, everyone is accepted and strongly egalitarian, meaning camping and bonfires on the beach, celebrities rubbing shoulders with dreadlocked hippies and bars for every social segment, taste or mood. It's still strongly Romanian, with multiple generations making the pilgrimage every summer.

    I was there for the final weekend of the season, which was surreal as huge crowds partied on the beach to numerous free concerts playing everything from Albania rap, folk music to techno and bonfires made from the beach bars that were being torn down on the Saturday night. However, by my final night I was the only guest in my hostel, the beach was mostly empty and the majority of shops and bars having been dismantled or shuttered, all in 4 days. This change of pace was fine by me as I continued my wind down and spent my time between swims at the beach, afternoon naps and meals at my favourite fish restaurant on the beach, which only sold the fish they had caught the night before, simply grilled on big open air charcoal hot plates. It was a serendipitous end to an amazing trip, one that has shown me the most incredible natural, built and human beauty, while reminding me of the ugliness, conservatism and fear that can so easily be brought to the surface manipulated and abused.

    The more I travel the more it becomes clear that there is so much to be learnt from each other and so much joy that can be gained from leaving your own comfort zone and actually talk to people rather than listen to those trying to manipulate you. The kindness and generosity of strangers, both local and foreign remains the most enduring of all lessons learnt on the road. Being surrounded by a self selected group of like minded travellers also helps. While I met American backpackers from every social strata, demographic and background, I didn't meet a single Trump supporter. Same for British and Brexit. Same for Aussies and One Nation. This is not a coincidence - seeing beyond the headlines, propaganda and noise to be drawn to travel in Eastern Europe, the middle east and the Caucasus effectively filters out a lot of ugliness and made the last few months a nice reassuring bubble in which to exist, where you could actually dare to believe that maybe we can just all get along.

    Or maybe Vama Vechia has just gone to my head..
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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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