After the looooong train ride through stunning Romanian countryside, my friend Smaranda picked me up at the station and escorted me to her home, where her parents welcomed me with open arms, excitement, and food. We walked around for a good long while and Smaranda pointed out different parts of the town and gave me a brief run-down on Romanian history. We snuck around a few floors of her old high school, like ninjas. Tomorrow we’re visiting a king’s castle.
Photos: Smaranda and I being cute, the Hollywood-esque sign on the side of the nearby mountain, and a small Orthodox church at sundown.
We took a trip to the nearby resort/former royalty area Sinaia and saw the lovely palace. The Romanian countryside really is just breathtaking. We paid a bit extra and got the extended tour, so we saw all the finery of the royal rooms. Unfortunately, not pictures were allowed without paying. But it was a wondrous inside, refined and still as overwhelming as any castle. The history is interesting, involving a German prince (Hohenzollern from Baden-Würtemberg, my state!) being invited over to rule to get Romania out of conflict from bigger powers.
Oh, and I ate pickled green tomato. I’m gonna make a jar when I get back to the US. Yum!
Photos: A statue of Carol I, the German who came over to rule, me being a dork, and the fantastic scene.
Smaranda and I woke up to get on a 9 o’clock bus to Bran Castle. Queen Marie of Scotland had lived there and it had been used as a hospital in WWII. I could take pictures inside this time and did so, with abandon. We took about an hour and a half to see everything, get lost inside looking for the exit, and for me to jump the rope and sneak a peak at a hallway that still had it’s stone walls. Smaranda showed me the rest of the town and all the parts the German had had hands in, like the Demokratisches Forum and the Kulturzentrum, among others. We got ice cream, and I used the last of my lei (money) to buy a bottle of wine as a thank you to her parents. Her dad gave me a kiss on both cheeks and her mother packed me a sandwich and homemade biscuits for the train ride. I felt a tinge of sadness to be leaving Romania, with it’s interesting language and warm welcome. Maybe I’ll be back. For now, next stop, Budapest.
Photos: the German Cultutal Center of Braşov, the Katherine Gate, some cool amor from Bran Castle, a view from said place, and Smaranda and I being cute.