A Travellerspoint blog


Brasov, Sighisoara, & Oradea, Romania

An adventure park, two waterparks, another gondola, a fortress, a fortified church, an underground amusement park in a salt mine, and more cute old towns. Wow, Romania!


Day 22 - Adventure Park Brasov and Mount Tampa

I finally started the day with a run. My first run after my Venice fall. It felt great to see the city wake up and sweat a bit. Finally! I ran around a castle on a hill, along the old city walls, and through some beautiful parks. I stopped a few time for pictures on DD#2's borrowed phone. It is always wonderful to see a city as it awakes.

And yes, Starbucks has made it to Romania.

We had a quick breakfast in our room before hiring an uber to take us to an adventure park on the outskirts of Brasov. This park was massive with more challenge routes in the trees than I've ever seen. DH and I stayed firmly on the ground while the kids challenged themselves on some tough courses. The long zip line that went over a lake was the favorite. The kids were sweaty after three hours adventuring. DH and I walked around the forest watching them and took a lap around the lake. Lots of local families were BBQing and we found a quick place for a snack.

Ubers were scarce to get back into the city so we tried the city bus instead. We didn't understand how to buy a ticket and the poor driver had to stop the bus, get out, and show us what to do. Sometimes it is so hard not understanding the language!

We took a little break in our apartment and then headed up a gondola to the top of Mount Tampa which overlooks the whole town. This was one old gondola! We took a short hike at the top behind the "Brasov" Hollywood-like sign for a view of the city. We had to wait in a long line for the gondola and the whole experience could use renovation. Romania should hire me to help upgrade some of their tourist sites and market some better souvenirs! It was a fun and local experience. We have encountered nearly zero native English speakers while in Romania.

DH and DD#2 were feeling worn out so DD#1 and I headed outside of the city center for a more local Italian dinner. The food was delicious at Pizzeria Della Nonna! The seafood pasta was one of my favorite meals so far. We brought back a pizza for the rest of the gang.

An intense storm rolled in and the rain, thunder, and lightning were fierce. It made for a tough night of sleep. The rain was especially loud on the metal roof. More rainy Brasov tomorrow.

Day 23 - Rainy Brasov

We slept in a bit after a restless night. The rain was unrelenting. The kids and I decided to have a quick breakfast before heading to an indoor waterpark on the outskirts of town. We took an uber once again which is a little adventure in itself! The waterpark was quite big and well-organized. We loved the giant lap pool with a diving platform and the orange waterslide. It was an easy and active way to start this rainy day.

We ubered back and DH and I decided to have a leisurely lunch. We really enjoyed our meal at Beraria Pofta bau Foame. We shared a yummy board of dips and spreads. Unique! The highlight was having papanasi for dessert. This is the most traditional Romanian dessert. My only disappointment is that I waited until our 4th night in Romania to try it! It's basically a donut that is covered in cream and fruit sauce. It was better than I expected!

Kids found a cute place for bubble tea and we took a few pictures in the rain.

The rain still hadn't let up so we put on our raincoats and walked around the mostly deserted old town. The day was passing quickly even though we hadn't accomplished much. We had a light low-key dinner, walked around the old town again (rain finally stopped), got dessert we didn't really need, and took a few last pictures. We are heading a short distance to Sighisoara tomorrow.

Day 24 - Sighisoara

I started the day with a final short run around Brasov. The weather was improving yet it was still a cool morning. We had a classy French breakfast at La Birou Bistro.

After packing our things (we have become experts), we hit the road for the short drive to Sighisoara. I was excited because we had a couple of fun stops planned along the route.

The first was Rupea Fortress. Wow! Driving up to the fortress so very impressive. We didn't know much about the site ahead of time so it was a happy surprise. The entrance fee was small as were the crowds. We were able to climb around all three levels of the fortress. Amazing to imagine what it must have been like to live in such a place. We even found a few souvenirs on the way out. We all agreed that this fortress was more enjoyable than the busy and over-hyped Bran Castle.

We moved on to a fortified Church in the tiny town of Viscri. The cobblestones leading up to the town were enormous making for a very bumpy drive. We found parking and once again, didn't really know what to expect. It turns out that a fortified church is pretty amazing! A large wall was built around the church to protect it and the people living there. The steps were wooden and rickety as we explored the towers, hidden rooms, and artifacts. There were also beautiful flowers and few people to contend with. The kids enjoyed the resident cat.

Another hour or so down the road lead us to Sighisoara, our home for the night. Sighisoara is supposedly the gem of Romania with its lovely buildings, cobbled lanes, and old towers. It was pretty but we have been spoiled by Romania's other beautiful towns. Still, we took many pictures and felt as though we'd stepped back in time a bit.

They even had tacky Dracula souvenirs!

We walked up a long covered stairway that helped the local kids stay dry on their way up the hill to school.

We had dinner at a restaurant right across the street from our apartment. Simple things like soup, schnitzel, and pizza.

We wished we had more than one night in this wonderful apartment! It cost just around $55 per night. It will be hard to go back to the US and pay well over $100 for a modest hotel room.

We have stayed at two places that have these nifty dish drying racks built in above the sink. Great idea!

Here are a few final pictures from Sighisoara.

Day 25 - Turda Salt Mine and Oradea

We started our morning in Sighisoara with a simple breakfast of croissants and coffee before climbing the city's clock tower.

Today's drive was a long one. We drove around two hours to the town of Turda. (Haha. Yes, we got plenty of laughs over the name.) The drive was interesting because we caught a glimpse of Romania's developing infrastructure. DH would drive around 80mph on a wonderful highway that would abruptly end for many kilometers. The now two-lane slow curvy road might go on for 45 minutes or so before the new highway would reappear again for a while. It would be interesting to return to Romania in a decade or so to see how the roads have improved.

Turda Salina (salt mine) was unlike anything we had seen before. This old salt mine was turned into an amusement park of sorts. We walked down many stairs and corridors before finding this unbelievable scene deep underground.

Salt icicles were forming on the ceiling above.

There was a salt lake far below with people renting boats and rowing around. Unfortunately, the line was just too long. We opted to ride the underground ferris wheel instead. What a trip!

We continued on for another couple of hours to the town of Oradea along the Hungarian border. What a beautiful town! The buildings are remnants from the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

We had a nice Hungarian style dinner with chicken paprikash, cheesy chicken and salad.

DH took some beautiful pictures of the town all lit up at night. The girls also did some posing around town.

I forgot to take pictures when we first arrived to our apartment. This one cost less than $50. It wasn't remarkable but it was in the city center and was actually pretty comfortable. The kids put up with an interesting sofa bed arrangement for one night. Here are the rough pics after we took the place over with our stuff.

We went to bed wishing we'd scheduled another night in Oradea. Such a pretty and laid-back town.

Day 26 - Waterpark!

I got up early and went for a walk around town before found a yummy place for bagels and coffee. Snoozz was a hit!

The plan for today was to play at Nymphaea Waterpark. DH wasn't in the mood and enjoyed a long walk and some quiet time. Ours was quite the opposite. We jetted down numerous slides both indoors and outdoors. This was the biggest waterpark we had been to on this trip and our favorite. It was easy to spend several hours playing.

We continued our day with a two hour drive back to Hungary to the smallish town of Eger. I will end the Romania portion of the blog here and continue back in Hungary next time. I'm so grateful that we were able to visit Romania for eight nights. An unforgettable country!

Posted by familyineurope 19:32 Archived in Romania Tagged church fortress waterpark brasov sighişoara fortified salina oradea turda viscri rupea nymphaea Comments (0)

Sibiu and the Transfagarasan Highway, Romania

From a colorful city center to old world Romania


Before I start recounting our last few days, I have to describe where I am as I write this. We are staying at a little pension in a tiny village along the southern part of the Transfagarasan Highway. A carriage pulled by a horse and a foal just drove by. There are chickens and roosters by the bus stop. Free range dogs cross the street. The tiny mini market across the street is the social hub of the town. Locals are visiting outside while tourists like me and others pass through. Tractors pass by with multiple passengers and equipment. I am 100% fascinated sitting outside on my little patio table watching the action. And here I thought this would be the most boring night of the trip!

Day 19 - Corvins' Castle & Sibiu, Romania

We left Timisoara as late as possible taking advantage of the 11am check out time. We all wished we had one more night in this very real Romanian city. We have several one night stays during our time in Romania. I never enjoy just one night but it seemed the best way to experience as much as Romania as possible given we have to come home eventually. Romania is pretty far out of the way and realistically, we might not make it here again.

Our first stop today was Corvins' Castle located in a small town between Timisoara and Sibiu. The castle had a long bridge over the old moat to its grand entrance. The exterior was what many people would call the perfect castle. We enjoyed the many staircases, rooms, and passages to other parts of the castle. We were allowed to explore most parts of the castle. There were so many stairs up and down to the various levels. What a great stop!

We traveled another hour or so to the cute town of Sibiu. This town is known for its many building with "eyes". The eye windows provided ventilation back in the day. I had fun taking pictures of the many "eyes" around town.

This time, our apartment was two bedrooms with a giant kitchen and living room. Here is what just over $60 gets you in Sibiu. Good air conditioning too!

We wandered the town, took loads of pictures, had some gelato, and climbed a couple of old watch towers along a portion of a remaining city wall.

Dinner was at a cute place right outside of our apartment. We enjoyed drinks, a couple pasta dishes and a curry dish. Very yummy!

I went for another walk around the town as the sun set and admired the architecture and the busy crowds who always seem to come out to wander during the cool nights.

Day 20 - Sibiu, Balea Lake, and the Transfagarasan Highway

We had a fancy breakfast in the main part of Sibiu. Yummy poached eggs on toast with various toppings. We are really enjoying how affordable the restaurants are in eastern Europe.

I climbed the Council Tower and had our last looks at this cute town.

We hit the road and made it to the famous Transfagarasan Highway. This road is known for being one of the top driving roads in the world and was a big bucket list destination for DH. The curves were incredible as we made our way to Balea Lake at the top.

Balea Lake was beautiful in a very unique way. We spent about an hour hiking around and taking pictures.

Local cheese and meats being sold all along the highway.

The fog cleared on the other side of the mountain and we were still pleased with the 70 degree temperatures. Felt so good to be relatively cool! The drive became more rough and bumpy and we traveled down the mountain. The landscape looked an awful lot like Oregon! We stopped again at an impressive dam.

The kids still manage to sleep even in the most curvy and rough road conditions.

Our last stop was our pension near the end of the highway. This was a nicely appointed family room for just over $60.

We drove a couple of minutes to a nice restaurant where we shared a Bulgarian salad, some spicy pork, bean and smoked ham soup, and fried cheese. Serious stick-to-your-ribs kind of food!

My favorite part of the day was sitting at the table outside of the pension and watching the action on the Transfagarasan Highway in our small village. I was completely entertained watching horse-drawn trailers hauling hay, tractors, cows crossing the highway lead by locals with sticks, and folks chatting across the highway at the convenience store. Romania is such a mix of old and new. I watched a teenage girl helping move her cows home. She had a stick to guide them in one hand and was staring at her smart phone in the other hand. Amazing!

Day 21 - Curtea de Argos, Bran Castle, and Brasov

A few observations about Romania. The difference between the cute, touristy city centers and the rural villages is vast. In the countryside there are tons of old disused factories (such as old nuclear plants), old abandoned cars, exposed water pipes and electrical wiring, wandering dogs and livestock, and people farming without modern equipment. This is in stark contrast to the trendy city center restaurants, boutique stores, bakeries, and bars. Folks in the country don't seem to have much. Road conditions are poor and people are working hard. The outskirts of the cities are a bit rough too. Buildings are often concrete apartment blocks from communist times and everything seems to need a coat of paint. I haven't been bored for a minute as I try to wrap my mind around all that I am seeing.

We checked out of our pension and drove about 25 minutes to the town of Curtea de Argos. We found a fancy-ish place for breakfast where we had six drinks (DH and I had two coffees each) and 4 omelettes. It was around $20. We were fueled for the day.

We stopped at the beautiful monastery in the town. The Romanian people seem deeply religious. Many were lighting candles, praying, and kissing the famous relic in the church.

The drive ahead was long, curvy, and rough. We bumped along and saw more horse-drawn farm equipment and sheep and cows in the road. The scenery was gorgeous! We traveled up and down significant mountains and everything was so green and dramatic. A beautiful drive!

We stopped at the very touristy Bran Castle made famous by the Dracula legend. The castle was stunning set up on a rocky hilltop but mobbed with tourists. It was most claustrophobic and touristy thing we have done so far. A bit overrated, in my opinion. I'm sure it would have been a different experience outside of the busy summer months.

After a grocery store stop, we found our home in Brasov for the next three nights. This two bedroom apartment costs just over $50 per night.

We found a Transylvanian place for dinner, wandered the old town, and looked forward to three nights in Brasov, Romania.

More from Brasov next time!

Posted by familyineurope 15:21 Archived in Romania Tagged castle de sibiu bran transfăgărăşan curtea arges Comments (0)

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