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Last updated : Nov 2009
Pros: tasteful palaces, Cluj-Napoca is a gem - real student town, Moldova houses the largest wine cellar in the world
Cons: none

Bucharest, Romania

Thursday, Jul 21, 2005 01:40

What are we going to do in Romania? Get fit, climb mountains, explore transylvanian castles hanging precariously from sheer cliffs, eat bloodied steak...

Or visit a few towns of medieval Saxon origin and climb a few hundred feet before the exhaustion sets in and go back down to the town square for a glass of sweet Moldovan wine?

Romania still boasts bears, vipers and wild dogs - no better place to go for an afternoon's stroll day-dreaming away through the fields!

Loads of surprises here - "The People's Palace" built by the mad dictator Ceaucescu in the pre-1989 years. This thing is the 2nd biggest building in the world (after the Pentagon) and stands on the rubble of one-sixth of Bucharest which was bulldozed to make room for this wacko's dream.

There are more tasteful palaces in Romania and none more so then the Royal Summer Castle in Sinaia. This gets our vote as one of the must sees of our trip thus far!! A true fairy-tale with turrets, secret passage-ways and rooms themed and crammed with treasures from Japan to Iran (furniture which took 100 years to carve and a stair-case so ornate it was never used!).

On hearing that Moldova houses the largest wine cellar in the world (kilometres upon kilometres of the stuff) I nearly turned giddy although, because this little gem was a little too far out of our way - reason enough to return - we headed to Brasov and saw the Saxon church. Actually the whole place feels very German.

Sighisoara was full of German tourists and porn-watching local lads, so got 'nul points' depsite it's being Vlad Dracula's birthplace.

Cluj-Napoca is a gem - real student town (always guaranteed to make Helen smile). We went for a walk to one of the gorges about an hour's drive and a few kilomters on foot out of town. On the return leg the guide asked if we wanted to go via the river or head straight back - the road less travelled wasn't exactly a 'road' but talk of waterfalls persuaded us. A few HOURS later we found ourselves STILL wading through the river and jumping round cow/sheep/rabbit poo and/or water snakes(delete as appropriate). Sure the first time we took off our shoes to go in it was "ahh, sweet". By #20 it was more like "bleeem'n 'ek ouch!" But it was a class act of a hike, wild mint growing by a river not a road or any sign of life for miles, sweet bliss. Just a pity about the stones in the shoes...