the people square

a community serious about adventuring

Step 1: Get a Tour Guide – Romania

December 5-10, 2010

Coming off an alcohol soaked stint in Budapest, thanks to our new friends at Tiger Tim’s Hostel, we prepared for our longest single train ride: a sleeper to Bucharest that was close to 15 hours with only one relativley early border disturbance, in other words a good nights sleep.  Well rested, we looked forward to Romania and seeing an old friend from Vancouver, one of the Vera’s Burger crew, Serban.  He set us up amazingly at his place, played tour guide, drove us around town, lent us a cell phone to communicate with and gave us simply awesome suggestions to make the most of our time in Romania.

So far on our travels most of the people we talked to didn’t have the the best things to say about Bucharest.  During the day it isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing as the construstion underway to modernize and repurpose the former dictator’s unfinished monstrosities are slowed by a weak EU economy. One of the first things people notice when walking the Bucharestan steets are the dangling sphaghetti wires that make up the outdated electrical, and tele-communication system in Romania. They have only just begun digging up the streets to use the less sketchy and electrifying method of underground wiring. (Note: Romania also has NO highways). However, at night it comes alive with a reinvigorated old town outfitted with beautifully cobblestoned pedestrian-friendly roads lined with lively pubs, restaurants and cafes.  Unique stylish night clubs are the norm, and the seasonal markets, ice rinks, and x-mas lights make Bucharest a great fun and affordable city for all ages.  We also happened to arrive on the night they light up the main streets with x-mas lights, quite a sight and draws an exuberant crowd.  Before bed we walked to Tea House bunker. Again a place that would go unseen by visitors, but a secret underground tea house for locals. Pages of loose leaf teas from around the world, each person recieving their own personalized rustic pot of tea. Locals cozy up on couches and cushions on the floor, in private cellar style rooms or in hideaway bunks.

After our first day, we jumped back on our Eurail pass and headed to Brasov in Transilvania for the day. We again defied the season with yet another cold but beautifully sunny day. Off the train and an effortless bus trip to the city center we encountered the largest Gothic church between Istanbul and Vienna, the Black Church. Which owns an impressive

collection of Anatolian carpets, the largest collection in all of Europe.
Back on the train, and off to Sigisoara. For all of you Dracula fans, this is the birthplace of Vlad (The Impaler) Tepes, of whom Bram Stoker based his 19th century character on. We stayed at Casa Baroca, at Serban’s suggestion. The guesthouse owner picked us up at the train station: a short drive later we were there. Our room was rustic, spacious, full of character, right in the heart of the historic part of Sigisoara, beautiful and best of all affordable. It was more of an apartment, missing only a kitchenette; not to worry, they provided an awesome, filling authentic Romanian breakfast for us well within our budget. The bathroom had a large soaker tub that our wearily travelled bodies took full advantage of after exploring the city and dining at a small restaurant across from the central park that was embarassingly inexpensive, authentic and delicious. Again, thanks to Serban for suggesting that place also. The next day we explored some more in daylight, easily navigating all the sights, Clock Tower, old city walls, churches, by foot on our way to the train station. At night, the medieval village is uniquely up-lit adding to its eerie and scary movie feel.

Back at base in Bucharest, Serban made sure we were treated to some traditional Romanian
cooking, rice and meat stuffed red bell peppers, courtesy of his Grandmother. Simply
amazing, satisfying, and so tasty. On our last night we dined in a beautifully restored,
wood-framed building in downtown Bucharest. It was a bustling spot with traditional
dancing, and food.

Afterwards we went to a Gala Boutique Nightclub. The music was great, the energy quickly rose from the time we arrived. There was a sexy secretary theme going on with complimentary black frame glasses. There was no dance floor cause that’s so 90’s. Table service was definitely a must for Bucharest’s nightclub scene for the usual reason, price and a table.

There wasn’t too much of a light show, but great use of space with

visuals and a much more creative decor than my Granville Street pedigree is familiar with more than made up.
Any trip to Eastern Europe wouldn’t be complete, in my humble opinion, without a trip to Romania. We had an amazing experience thanks to Serban, seriously, you should work for the tourism board. Anyone could easily navigate these places as well as Sibiu in Transilvania,
which we didn’t have time for nor the Black Sea coast which also comes highly recommended.
Interesting Info:
“In Romanian history, couples seeking divorce were locked in the Prison Tower in the Biertan Fortified Church together for two weeks. Sharing one set of cutlery and one bed, before the couple
had to make their final decision. In 400 years, only one couple decided afterwards to go
If you’re looking at buying an apartment in Bucharest, look out for the red danger signs. Looking exactly like a stop sign, these mark buildings that would collapse like a deck of cards if an earthquake were to hit.
The term Gypsy originated from the belief that the Roma people originated from Egypt.

The Yank

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This entry was posted on January 4, 2011 by in Brasov, Bucharest, Romania, Sigisoara.
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