Pros: tasteful palaces, Cluj-Napoca
is a gem - real student town, Moldova houses the largest wine cellar
in the world
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
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...