A different New Year. An unusual destination choice not only because? achievable on a low budget but for curiosity? to this region of Eastern Europe famous for the myth of Vlad and for its atmosphere still intact and not contaminated by mass tourism. A trip to a country that must be visited and experienced in order to clear all the prejudices and stereotypes we have in mind. A real find.
We left Rome with the 8.20 Alitalia flight. On time we land in Bucharest at 11.30 and collect the rental car booked from Italy. In no time we are out of the airport with a brand new Ford Mondeo destination SIBIU. The weather ? good, but cold! Leaving the Bucharest ring, a well-maintained highway accompanies us for about sixty kilometers, from here on only small roads that cross the villages of Muntenia. Ed? already? a leap in time. Colorful houses, barns, flocks of sheep, carts and a life that appears like this to us? slow and still. We make a stop before entering Transylvania, in a small restaurant along the road where there isn't? nobody. No English and not even Italian (spoken by many Romanians) but with a little imagination and availability? of the owner, what? also the cook, we go more? than satisfied. Gi? happy with the Romanian cuisine ... not to mention the prices .... 8,50 euros for two!
We arrive in Sibiu at 17:00 and we settle in the hotel chosen on booking, the Continental Forum Sibiu, a 4-star at the entrance to the pedestrian area, no longer? 600 meters from Piata Mare. Does the hotel have parking right in front of the entrance,? nice and excellent for the amount paid. The room is not? huge but clean and equipped with every comfort. The time to warm up with a hot shower and we are already? out, towards Piata Mare. We are surprised by the cleanliness and care that surrounds us. Sibiu? a jewel, it reminds us of the Czech Republic. The Square? decorated with a thousand lights, a beautiful tree, an ice rink and the typical Christmas market with typical products. Lots of tourists, lots of people out and about, party atmosphere. We've been here for less than twelve hours and already? we ask ourselves where? that country that we expected a little bleak and "less beautiful" than ours?
For dinner we choose the "Weinkeller" restaurant, a real cellar with a magical atmosphere. This is where we fall in love with the cuisine of this country! Still a walk around the city? old and go back to the hotel.
This morning the day? beautiful. At 9.00 we have already? we had breakfast at the hotel and went out to enjoy the beauties of Sibiu with the sunlight. Do we retrace practically the whole city? old, falling in love with every corner at this deserted hour. On the way back we visit the Orthodox Cathedral, where the Sunday service is taking place. Let's go back to take the suitcase and set off again towards Sighisoara. Along the way we planned a lunch stop in the town of Biertan with its fortified church, a UNESCO heritage site. Do we travel more and more roads? small and more? far from our normalcy. There are more and more villages? small, all similar, with these colorful houses lined up along the street. People at the doors of the houses, children playing, men at work. Many flocks guarded by shepherds still covered in traditional furs. Before Biertan we pass Richis, where is he? a beautiful church and finally arrived we discover that the church? closed for renovations until March, so? we must be content with seeing the outside. We have lunch in a nice restaurant, right next to the church. Around 15:00 we take the road to Sighisoara again. In less than an hour we reach the citadel and our hotel. Here we are staying at the Pension Am Schneidertum, right next to one of the towers. Retirement ? small but so? clean and cared for to compete seriously with a luxury B&B. The large room, comfortable and furnished in perfect style. Are we already? excited. We take advantage of the last light to make a first tour of the citadel and go up to its most? high. Is it cold, c '? few people and here we begin to breathe the imagined atmosphere of Transylvania. Very beautifull. We rest for a couple of hours defrosting under boiling water and we succeed for dinner. Shall we go to the lower part of the city? in one of the many restaurants recommended by the hotelier. They are much more? cheaper than those inside the walls but guaranteed that you will still be happy. 30 Euros is the maximum you will be able to spend in two people in a nice restaurant !!! Tonight we taste Ciorba di legumes and the famous Sarmale cu Mamaliga, one of the traditional dishes consisting of mixed meat rolls enclosed in cabbage leaves, served with coarse-grained corn polenta and sour cream. Really worth trying. It ends like this? our second evening in Romania and everything is turning out to be above all expectations.
Today we have the whole day at our disposal here in Sighisoara. This morning is even more? cold but the clear sky still does not abandon us. Breakfast at the pension? a pleasant start to the day. Many local products, including delicious cheeses, which give us the right energy to face the cold. We dedicate the morning to Sighisoara visiting the entire deserted citadel and then descending into the city? low where we immerse ourselves in normality? of Romanian life. Lots of cafes, lots of people, lots of shops (these are not exactly beautiful). Before lunch we take the car back for a ride in the surroundings, which in addition to the UNESCO site of Saschiz, takes us to Chris and Malancrav, other villages similar to those seen along the way. Chris c '? a large castle and another fortified church in Malancrav, but to be pleasant and interesting are not so much these attractions, which then turn out to be nothing special, but to observe the people, their houses, their work, their clothes and notice how they look at us. Once in Saschiz we have lunch trying other specialties? such as Ciorba de Burta, the famous tripe soup served with sour cream. Very good.
After lunch we visit the fortified church. For 4 lei per person, a lady on guard opened the church for us. The interior has nothing special but the fact of being completely alone has given more? charm to this attraction. We return to Sighisoara and stop in a shopping center outside the city, to integrate a little more with local life. Together with the sun we also retire for a little rest and the usual hot shower. Tonight for dinner we choose the square of the citadel, accepting the risk of cheating for tourists we go to the restaurant Casa Dracul, on the first floor of the house where it seems Prince Vlad Tepes was born and lived. Nice place, good atmosphere, impeccable service, good food and good wine. Prices a little more? high than average but in Rome they would not have been enough for a pizza !!!
With a little nostalgia and in the freezing night we bid our farewell to Sighiasoara and retire to the pension. We leave early in the morning!
At 9:00 we are in the car in a frozen landscape headed to BRASOV. We do not want to miss the detour to VISCRI, where c '? another UNESCO heritage citadel. This time the detour is really worth it. Not just for the magnificent fortified citadel, but for the whole country what? another blast from the past where we stay a while having a coffee? and strolling through these dusty streets among geese and turkeys. We are just us, and we are pleasantly struck by these little women with the handkerchief on their head who kindly greet us and smile at us. We leave the tranquility? and we dive into the chaos of the city? of Brasov waiting for the New Year. It is 11:30 when we reach the booked hotel. Here we are staying in Sanpetru, a hamlet 7 kilometers from the city, the only place to sleep for less than 200 Euros .... well even here on the night of the 31st? crazy. The Bielmann hotel? a nice 3 star clean and well run by a nice family. The room ? cute and big, alpine chalet style. The gorgeous garden, in the summer it must be really beautiful with the large swimming pool in the center.
We head to Brasov. The suburbs ? that of a sad city? of the east, with Soviet high-rises and industrial factories; but entering the center the magic returns. Lots of people, lots of lights, the Christmas markets. Piata Sfatului? beautiful, so? like the nearby Black Church that we visit only on the outside since? closed for holidays (no comment ...). We enjoy this festive atmosphere permeated with that strange expectation that precedes the last hours of the year! Unfortunately the restaurant where I wanted to have dinner? full ... cos? as well as all the others who do not close at 18:00 ....... ouch ...... it's bad.
Cold, we go back to the hotel to rest and change clothes for dinner (hoping there will be), but at 20:00 we are back in the square. Fortunately, we find a coffee? who has the restaurant open? crowded but we manage to indulge in our dinner. We look forward to 2014 in piazza Sfatului, among the people with folk songs and dances of famous groups who arrived here for the show on 31. Happy 2014!
After the party the night before we wake up calmly and after a rich breakfast at the hotel we head towards one of the attractions of Transylvania: BRAN and its Castle. Along the way we stop in Rasnov, for some photos of its fortress. Bran hits us immediately why? unlike any other place visited, it seems entirely dedicated to tourism. Bran Castle, better known as Dracula's Castle, stands majestically and hauntingly over the town. Before entering its park we get lost in a colorful and inviting souvenir market like the many local products that are displayed on the stalls. The visit to the Castle costs 25 Lei, about 5,50 Euros, and it is absolutely worth it. Erected on this spur, exposed to the howling wind, with its spiers and medieval atmosphere it deserves the fame it has. After the visit, we have a leisurely lunch in a nice restaurant and indulge in some shopping. We go back to the hotel what? night, after making a further passage to Predjam, who can? be well skipped.
Tonight we will not give up on dinner in the Bella Muzica restaurant: romantic and intimate, excellent cuisine and wine, impeccable service for the usual 35 Euros for two! We leave Brasov in the best way!
We leave Brasov this morning. It seems to have snowed due to the frozen blanket that surrounds us. We head towards the mountains, we pass Predeal heading towards Sinaia. The road winds between ski resorts where tourism seems to be widespread everywhere. Sinaia? a beautiful town at the foot of the mountains, where the area of the Peles and Pelisor castles? an unmissable destination. Access to the parking? for a fee and the last stretch must be covered on foot. In front of Peles we remain fascinated as if we were in the world of fairy tales. The entrance to the castle costs 25 Lei and the access takes place in small groups divided by language. We choose the tour in English, but we do not pay the supplement to take the photographs. (A little excessive ....)
The Castle, the summer residence of King Charles of Romania and his wife Elizabeth,? simply a little wonder. Really a marvel. Alone it would be worth a trip to this region. We leave this magical place with regret and resume our march towards Bucharest. Coming down from the mountains we enter a thick fog, which will leave? placed in the greyness of the plain. We pass on the outskirts of Ploiesti, sad and desolate, and we take the brand new highway for the last 60 kilometers that separate us from the capital. For lunch we stop in Snagov. We arrive in Bucharest around 15:00. All my memories of the Moscow suburbs resurface; only concrete and obscene high-rises surround us. I wasn't expecting anything different but this gray seems to get inside you.
We reach our hotel, at the entrance to the pedestrian area of Lipscani at the corner with the central Piazza Unirii. Hotel Europa Royale? very convenient for a city stopover, a standard 4-star hotel in an excellent location.
We allow ourselves rest and relaxation, going out in the evening. We enter the Piazza Unirii shopping center and confirm that the shops are certainly not a shopping paradise.
We enter Lipscani, where restaurants, pubs and night clubs follow one after the other. We choose a typical restaurant and go back to the hotel.
Today ? the last day on Romanian soil. At 19:00 do we have the flight that will bring us back? at home. Let's dedicate the time we have left to the capital and do you think ...? pi? that's enough.
We started from the huge palace built by Ceausescu, now the seat of the Parliament. Gray, immense, gloomy ... majestically awful. And we plunged back into the streets more? famous of Lipscani: Strada Franceza, Strada Selari, Strada Lipscani with its market and the only beauty of Bucharest, found in Strada Stavropolos. A small Orthodox monastery where the nuns were intent on celebrating mass; ? like a small gem left embedded in the destruction wreaked around. We then headed towards the famous Calei Victoriei, passing in front of the national bank, the military club and the Hotel Casa Capsa. Anonymous. Defining Bucharest as the "Paris of the East"? a real slap.
For lunch we discovered another corner that gave us two hours of magic, too bad it was too crowded. The Car restaurant? Cu Beri? an ancient building from the beginning of the century where you can eat with the background of the orchestra playing live, bringing you back to the splendor of the past.
It 's time to go ... we take our car back and along the wide boulevards we return to the airport. We pass through the Arc de Triomphe (and it can also be avoided). We reach the airport which is getting dark. Goodbye Romania. A country of which we will take a splendid memory, many recipes to try again at home and many less prejudices towards a people different from what we can imagine from Italy.