Euro Trip Day #11 : Brașov, a city with a mountain in the middle

4th September 2014

Cristi and I were up early for we had decided to hike the Mount Tâmpa, mountain in the middle of the city of Brașov.

Mt. Tâmpa as seen from the city center of Brașov, Romania

Mt. Tâmpa as seen from the city center of Brașov, Romania

We grabbed some breakfast and water on our way to the base of the mountain. We had only one backpack and it was not big enough to contain all the food items. I ended up carrying water bottles in my hands. It took us an hour to reach the top. It is not a tall mountain, about 960m high but proved to be a good morning-workout.

The panoramic view of the city was beautiful from the top.

Panoramic view of Brașov from Mt. Tâmpa, Romania

Panoramic view of Brașov from Mt. Tâmpa, Romania

We were lucky to have a lot of Sun and spent some time on the top. Because of multitudinous flora and fauna on the mountain, it has been declared as a nature-reserve. Brown bears, wolves, boars can surprise you in the woods. This information sufficed to pollute my mind with a dormant fear. When I was urinating in the woods, I heard a sound of grunt and I was scared to death. Apparently it was Cristi and not any boar or a hog. His prank was successful and we were laughing about it for long time. We took many pictures for the mountain was very scenic.

On Mt. Tâmpa, Brașov, Romania.

On Mt. Tâmpa, Brașov, Romania.

Later, more and more people started coming and we decided to move on (actually off the mountain). We chose to take a cable car on our way down to save time and efforts.

The cable car!

The cable car!

We had a short rest at the hostel which prepared us for another hill climb. Yes, another citadel on the hill. Brașov was too a fortress city once and remains of the fortification can be seen on the hill across the central park. It was first built in 16th century and renovated many times with bastions and other protecting walls.

Brașov fortress, 1580!

Brașov fortress, 1580!

Nowadays the fortress is turned into a restaurant called “Cetate”. Cetaţuia in Romanian means a citadel. So the name made sense. The climate was just perfect and the view spectacular. We decided to take a stroll along the fortification before leaving the hill.

Roar !

Roar !

We pleased ourselves with Covrigi (was very similar to doughnut) , a typical Romanian savoury as we kicked off site seeing in the city (oh yes, it was too much for legs by then, so kicked off)

Covrigi !

Covrigi !

Alley behind the wall is a collection of medieval monuments of ancient fortified city of Brașov. It consists of four important sites: the black church, the white church (no racism intended or implied), the graft bastions and Promenada Warthe!

Biserica Neagra which means “The Black Church”, it is a celebrated church showcasing Gothic architecture. The building dates from 1477, when it replaced an older church (demolished around 1385). It has acquired the name after being blackened by smoke from the great fire of 1689

The black tower (the darker side is the other side,  believe me!)

The black tower (the darker side is the other side, believe me!)

Turnul Alb : The white church

On the way to the white church !

On the way to the white church !

Bastionul graft: The graft bastion was built towards strengthening the defence of the city in 16th century.

The Graft bastion.

The Graft bastion.

Promenada Warthe : yet another hill, we decided to skip this one.

The city hall of Brașov was beautiful and so was the court of the city. The sculpture of the Lupa (she-wolf with baby boys) is also installed in Brașov as if it were written in a Romanian constitution.

The court of the city. (The word Courtship was probably  coined after seeing this beauty!)

The court of the city. (The word Courtship was probably coined after seeing this beauty!)

The garden in the middle of the city was a treat to our eyes.

A garden in Brașov, Romania

A garden in Brașov, Romania

There were couple of other things which caught our attention and  occupied some memory of cameras.

School girls' march!

School girls’ march!

People playing chess in the park!

People playing chess in the park!

For dinner we revisited the yesterday’s restaurant and chose to sit in the terrace. We had Ursus (a local beer) and Ciorbă (a soup). During dinner we witnessed an amusing chase of a pet squirrel (who escaped from the cage) by its owner. The squirrel once passed by our table but we did not want to move, for our legs had done enough work for the day and it was all worth it. The mountain, the hill and the medieval Brașov !

Selfi from the white church !

Cristi and I, Selfie from the white church !

Euro Trip Day #10 : Sighişoara, A feeling of Prague in Romania

3rd September 2014

We left Vlad’s house early (10 am) with his parents. Flori had decided to stay with her friends in Târgu Mureș. Sighişoara is arguably the most beautiful city in Transylvania. 56 km from Târgu Mureș. On the way I learnt a bit about Saxons in Transylvania and Szasz people who inhabited there for long time. These Saxons are of German origin and had built many houses with peculiar entry doors, which set them apart from other houses. Nowadays, Germans are buying these houses to strengthen their affinity to Transylvania.

It took us an hour to reach Sighişoara. First, we bought our train tickets to Braşov and then started our excursion:

A hoarding of (and in) Sighișoara, Romania

A hoarding of (and in) Sighișoara, Romania

It is a walled town, meaning that it was once a fortress-city (like Alba Iulia). Hungarian kings ruled here and invited German craftsmen who later became known as Transylvanian Saxons. We started with the landmark of the city : The Clock Tower, which is a 64 m-high tower built in the 13th century. It is now a history museum.

The Clock Tower, Sighișoara, Romania

The Clock Tower, Sighișoara, Romania

Similar to the clock tower of Prague, the clock has got a mechanical animation of some figures. Every hour, the statues (installed on the wheel), are exposed to the air to rotate systematically. They attract a lot of tourists. The view of the city from the top of the tower is remarkable.

View from the Clock tower, Sighișoara, Romania

View from the Clock tower, Sighișoara, Romania

 Sighișoara Citadel is another interesting site we visited. It is listed as a World Heritage Site. It was built in 12th-century and is the historic center of the city, still inhabited.
In the premises of the Citadel, there is a birth place of Vlad Dracul. Dracul in Romanian means the devil (or dragon). The word Dracula is derived from this Dracul. His torturing methods made him formidable opponent. He used to impale his prisoners on the spikes until they die. More on this, shall be coming in the Day #12 blog.
Bloody sign-board!

Bloody sign-board!

Next to Vlad’s birthplace was the Weapon Museum: Very small, but it contains an interesting selection of medieval weapons (swords, arrows, etc.).
Not so far from the weapon museum, we saw a covered Staircase – a very old stone staircase with a wooden roof along the whole span.
The Covered Staircase, Sighișoara, Romania

The Covered Staircase, Sighișoara, Romania

That led us up to the Church on the Hill and the cemetery.
Church on the Hill contains many frescoes and a crypt. Built on the location of a Roman fort. Located on the side of the hill next to it is one of the Lutheran cemeteries in the city, which contains many tombstones of Germans.
Church on the hill, Sighișoara, Romania

Church on the hill, Sighișoara, Romania

The town reminded me of Prague for a couple of reasons: It is very old and has preserved its medieval atmosphere. The alleys and lanes in the city look very much similar to that of Prague.

An alley in Sighișoara, Romania

An alley in Sighișoara, Romania

I quickly picked up some souvenirs before we got to the train station.

Our train was to leave at 2 pm. It was late (usual in Romania). We did not mind waiting in the Sun on the platform.

Good Bye Sighișoara!

Good Bye Sighișoara!

Vlad accompanied me in the train. He was going to Bucharest to take his flight to USA. I was to get down at  Braşov where Cristi was supposed to wait for me. It was quite a plan.

Our train reached Braşov at around 5 pm. I found Cristi outside the station. We walked to the studio-hostel, in the heart of the city.

Braşov city center, Romania

Braşov city center, Romania

In the evening we had a short walk in the city center followed by a traditional Romanian dinner (made up of corns and cheese). That was pretty much the end of the day. Vlad had made my day by planning a short but sweet visit to Sighișoara !

With Vlad on the clock tower, Sighișoara, Romania

With Vlad on the clock tower, Sighișoara, Romania