Romania was one of the few countries I’ve been to before. I can remember my first trip quite clearly: bumpy roads, wild dogs and horses with carriages on the streets, people staring and waving at our Citroen C4 that looked so luxurious compared to their few rusty ones, and a thin telephone book at our hotel that somehow managed to cover the whole country as only very little people had electricity, let alone a telephone. Seeing all of this when I was 10 made a huge impression on me and I was quite curious about what that country would look like 8 years later.
In Bucharest, I experienced a country that was very different to what I expected it to be like. As always, we got lost on our way to the city centre. We found ourselves staring at a huge building that was sparkling in the night sky. The AFI Palace, a shopping center, was one of the first things I got to see and probably the biggest contrast I could have imagined.
The girl we met in Belgrade and Sofia told us about the Bran Castle, also known as Dracula’s Castle, which is located near Brașov and only a 2,5h train ride from Bucharest away. Further away from the capital and deeper into Transylvania I recognized more similarities with the place I remembered: little markets with old ladies selling hand-made cuttlery, bags and jewelry. Tiny stalls offering home-made spreads, pastries and all sorts of cheese you can imagine. The castle itself might not look that impressive from the outside, but overlooking those magical hills and forests from Dracula’s bedroom while the warm winds of an upcoming storm blew threw my hair, sent shivers down my spine.
Back in Bucharest we strolled through the old town with its small alleys and tons of cafés and restaurants, saw the Palace of Parliament and enjoyed cream cheese filled pastries at the University square.
- Accomodation: Friends Hostel, 22€ pp for 3 nights in a 10-bed dorm, quite far from the center, very hot in summer, and the included breakfast turned out to be not even half a bowl of cornflakes..for two
- Food: buy food from local stalls, many people sell their goods on the streets and it’s definitely the best fruit/cheese etc you can get! Support locals!;)
- money matters: 1€ – 0.22 Leu, time to save money again!
- must-do: check out Dracula’s castle in Bran!
- transport: as our hostel wasn’t very central we caught buses every now and then, and got lost basically overtime we did international: from Sofia 9.5h, to Varna 7h