Romania and Beyond!

Sep 7th, 2019, 05:00 AM
  #1  
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Romania and Beyond!

DH and I are in the middle of our Romania trip and I realized I hadnít posted a thing!

Flights

We flew from Phoenix to Newark on 8/31 on AA and stayed the night at the Doubletree Hilton. Noisy atrium with the pool but it was fine for our overnight stay. Shuttle provided to and from the airport.

Next day we were scheduled on a 5:20 pm United flight to Munich and then on to Bucharest via Lufthansa - the international flights were business class.

Even though the flight had had arrived from AMS that morning, about 30 minutes before we were scheduled to board they announced that the a/c was not working properly and there was another issue with the part. You guessed it - the flight was over 3 hours late leaving Newark! By then I had already gotten on the phone and rescheduled our flight to Bucharest. People were scrambling to change connections.

Upon arrival in Munich, United provided no representative to meet the flight. People were wondering how to handle rerouting luggage and where/who to talk to. Some (including us) were simply told to go to the Lufthansa Service Center for assistance by the flight attendant as we got off. Horrible customer service! The service center was jammed. It would be hours. So we headed to the Lufthansa business lounge and a rep there took pity on us and assisted. Glad I had rebooked us with confirmed seats on a Lufthansa flight. We killed some time at the lounge and finally boarded our flight.
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Sep 7th, 2019, 05:25 AM
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Bucharest

Arrived in Bucharest and the driver the hotel arranged was waiting as promised. Staying at the Athenee Palace Hilton for 2 nights. By the time we got to the hotel it was close to 9:00 pm - tired. Ate a light dinner and off to bed.

Because our time here was so short, I had arranged a full day private guide with car to see some sights. He was right on time. We saw Revolution Square and headed off to see the Parliament Building. Of course those tours were done by their own staff. Such a large building with so many empty rooms! The 90 minute tour was informative. Very ornate building and a definite must see while there.

From there we we went to the Village Museum and walked through the north and south sections looking at the different architecture of the homes. Very interesting. We even saw the home that is featured on the 10 Lei note. Had lunch while there and I had cabbage rolls with polenta for lunch. Both were delicious!

Onward to to old town past the fountains. A walk through the square with shops.

Throughout the day our guide shared stories about growing up in his village and the adjustments he made moving to Bucharest.

Fascinating to see the architecture with the mix of communist era buildings and old world buildings. Very stark contrast! I confess I found the communist buildings just depressing to look at. Apartment houses galore with parking being a nightmare.

The Athenee Palace had its own fascinating history. A hotel that housed spies and intrigue! Interesting pictures in the lobby. Very old world hotel. We enjoyed our brief stay there. The Executive Lounge had a small balcony and we sat there with drinks and just watched the boulevard below and the people.

A brief but enjoyable stay.

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Sep 7th, 2019, 05:51 AM
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Onward

Up and with the airport shuttle (actually a car service) we headed back to the airport to pick up our rental car from Avis. Nice Mercedes (DH says model not sold in the U.S.) that had room for our bags but isnít huge. Also got a Garmin for navigating. I promptly couldnít follow directions though and managed to get us into a parking garage! Luckily two very nice men were able to show us how to pay - nope no grace period here - our 3 Lei so the token would work and to get us out!

On our way!!!

Peles Castle

First stop. Garmin somewhat got us there and my Maps app did the rest.

The walk to the castle was all uphill (note to self almost all castles are uphill) and long........ We finally made it to the top and waited in line another really long time for tickets. It started to pour down rain so DH had to make it to cover while I (who was smart enough to have my umbrella) stood in line. Finally into the castle via tour. What a look at life in another era. I wonít go into the history lesson other than to say it was certainly a modern castle ahead of its time. We toured both the ground and first floor and found it very interesting and worth the long lines

Brasov

By now we were in late afternoon so ready to stop for the day. We drove to Braşov and to the Upper House Boutique Hotel. I picked this hotel for its location (5 minute walk) to Old Town and because it has its own parking. Parking is a premium in this town.

Dinner and a little relaxing.
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Sep 7th, 2019, 06:10 AM
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Bran Castle - Prejmer - Braşov

After a wonderful breakfast we headed off to Bran Castle. As a long time Dracula fan how couldnít I? Yes I know itís not the real home but hey it was fun and the castle as you look up just made me hear howling wolves. Very imposing looking.

It was actually very interesting to visit. I didnít buy any TShirts though.

From there we we went to the fortified church in Prejmer. This church is one of the 7 UNESCO World Heritage fortified churches in the area. It had over 270 rooms and imagining life there as you walked through it was amazing.

Later we returned to Brasov and went down to The Black Church which is the largest Gothic church in Romania. We then walked around the square and watched the people. Ate dinner on the square. Tried a trip of bean dips which came with cucumber and tomato and onion. Very good. The town is medieval looking which adds to the charm of the area.

Enjoyed our stay here.
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Sep 7th, 2019, 06:25 AM
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Rupea - Viscri - Biertan - Sighisoara

Left Braşov and started our drive to Sighisoara - our next 2 night stay. The rolling green hills and farmland are beautiful!

We we made an impromptu stop at Rupea when we saw the fortified church from the road. Itís one of the oldest archaeological sites in Romania. Built in 1324 and last used in 1790.

On to Viscri. Now Garmin told us to turn down this road which turned out to be a complete dirt road with a do no enter sign on it. Do we believe the sign? Heck no because there is a small sign pointing to Viscri. So off we go. A half hour later with mud caked on the car we made it! Frankly I couldnít see the charm people claim Prince Charles saw. If he truly comes to stay I can only assume he brings an large group with him to cook and clean. On the other hand it was quiet and the church there was nice.

Now on when we left we found the paved road that brought us out right at Rupea. We had to laugh.

On on to The Doubletree Hilton which was picked for its parking. Right across the street from the Citadel. Hotel is not the best Hilton thatís for sure.
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Sep 7th, 2019, 06:31 AM
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Sighisoara

A lazy morning. First order of business - get the car washed! Yes DH says I wonít live it down! It certainly looks better after the wash.

Up to the citadel. We walked around and saw the sights. Cute town. We enjoyed looking at the Clock Tower and other historic buildings. Ate a very late lunch in the square.

I can see why people say a day here is enough though.

Now Iím caught up!
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Sep 7th, 2019, 06:53 AM
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" Frankly I couldn’t see the charm people claim Prince Charles saw. If he truly comes to stay I can only assume he brings an large group with him to cook and clean."

As far as I know, when the Prince is in Transylvania he actually spends most of his time, not in Viscri, but in the Szťkely village of ZalŠnpatak(Valea Zalanului in Romanian). Unlike Viscri where most of the original inhabitants emigrated to Germany 30 years ago, ZalŠnpatak has a continous tradition going back hundreds of years.

https://zalan.transylvaniancastle.com/

https://transylvanianow.com/prince-c...anian-estates/
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Sep 7th, 2019, 07:38 AM
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So nice to see a TR on Romania! Thanks.

But, for anyone reading this and planning a trip, I highly recommend seeing Pelisor as well as, or even instead of, Peles. Especially if you are an Art Nouveau fan. I took a taxi up the hill from the Sinaia train station, which left me with only a short walk in either direction (left for Pelisor, right for Peles), and walked back down to the town. (https://mytimetotravel.wordpress.com...lating-sinaia/ )
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Sep 7th, 2019, 08:37 AM
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If you're an art nouveau fan Oradea is a must see city too.

Oradea Travel | Centrul Istoric Oradea Arhitectura, Cultura, legenda
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Sep 7th, 2019, 09:55 AM
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And just over the border in Hungary Szeged and Pecs, not to mention Subotica just to the south in Serbia. (https://mytimetotravel.wordpress.com...d-vs-subotica/ )
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Sep 7th, 2019, 02:52 PM
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Great to read another Romania report.
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Sep 8th, 2019, 08:51 AM
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Sighetu Marmatiei

We drove from Sighisoara to Sighetu Marmatiei today. The roads were good, just slow since they are not major highways. The scenery was beautiful. Small villages, rolling green hills, haystacks and carts with one horse pulling a family along.

We we stopped for lunch along the way at a small restaurant where we had soup. DH has the bean with pork and I had what they called the traditional soup. It was very good.

Arrived in Sighetu Marmatiei for our 2 night stay at Hotel Gradina Morii. Tomorrow will be sightseeing.
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Sep 8th, 2019, 10:36 AM
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Originally Posted by patandhank View Post
Rupea - Viscri - Biertan - Sighisoara


On to Viscri. Now Garmin told us to turn down this road which turned out to be a complete dirt road with a do no enter sign on it. Do we believe the sign? Heck no because there is a small sign pointing to Viscri. So off we go. A half hour later with mud caked on the car we made it! Frankly I couldnít see the charm people claim Prince Charles saw. If he truly comes to stay I can only assume he brings a large group with him to cook and clean. On the other hand, it was quiet and the church there was nice.
. We visited Viscri and it was a wonderful experience. Loved the fortified church there! We also had lunch prepared by one of the local ladies -- who actually cooked for Prince Charles and participated at a Romanian event in London! She and her son were cooking for 4 hours to feed our group ))...and that considering that they were experiencing a blackout! So everything was cooked on one of those "vintage" looking stoves. We walked through the village after lunch and took horse carriage (well actually carts!) up to meet the shepherds. It was such an incredible experience. Then we traveled to another village where Prince Charles has some property that operates as B&B when he is not there. Staying there was an amazing experience. So all in all, out of all the experiences that I've had traveling in Europe..,..Romania is one of my favorite places!!!!
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Sep 9th, 2019, 10:17 AM
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Sighetu Marmatiei

Our guide, Teofil Ivanciuc, picked us up promptly at 9:30 am for our full day. Our first stop was the farmers market where we saw stall after stall of beautiful vegetables. A very busy place with people not only buying the vegetables and other food products, but also quietly buying the cigarettes that had been brought in from the Ukraine. The Ukrainien border is just about 2 kilometers away.

Not it only was the market busy, the flower vendors was also busy because it was the first day of school and itís a common practice for flowers to be given to the teachers on the first day. In fact the practice of giving teachers gifts all through the school year is an issue that we understand the government is asking parents to stop.

From the market we went to the church built during the Communist era. Itís under renovation. Still interesting to see.

On to one of the wooden churches that is so unique to this part of Romania. Fascinating to see. The Merry Cemetery was our next stop and some of the markers there were translated for us. To think this was one manís idea which has turned into something so special.

On to the Victims of Communism Memorial. This is a fascinating museum and well worth a visit. Not a lot in English; however, we were lucky and Teofil explained several of the exhibits. He grew up here and he told the story of his father working in the area and he would go to visit his father after school. There were guards with machine guns posted at the prison (now museum) and the guards would yell at him and the other children to walk on the other side of the street. His father never told him that political prisoners were being killed behind the walls.

We then went to the monestary where we had a brief lunch. We then walked the grounds and learned it had taken 25 years for it to be built and was still in the process of expanding.

We then had the chance to stop where we saw a woodcarver at work making pierces for churches to be built not only here in Romania, which even included a church being sent to New Jersey.

We we had the opportunity to visit with a family harvesting potatoes and a widow picking her butter beans. All of the talked about how severe the drought has been had the impact on the crops.

We also watched while while a family was busily washing some of their rugs in one of the natural whirlpools to prepare for winter.

We we stopped at a alcohol distiller and sampled a small glass of blueberry brandy.

Our last stop was a 13th century wooden church that is still used today. The inside of this church had the floor covered with rugs made by the women in the village. Some of the frescos were so old they had faded some. It was beautiful with embroidered pieces hanging up. A beautiful, unique treasure.

A full day day and I know I have probably forgotten something!


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Sep 9th, 2019, 08:05 PM
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A display depicting the women held prisoner Taken in the Victims of Communism Museum.

From the Merry Cemetery

The church key keeper demonstrating the call to service.
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Sep 10th, 2019, 12:19 AM
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What an interesting trip you had. Thanks for the photos.
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Sep 11th, 2019, 09:34 AM
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Gura Humorului

We left Maramures and drove to Gura Humorului. The drive was through a changing landscape that went from rolling hills and farmland to timberland and meadows with cows grazing.

In Gara Humorului we had reservations at Casa Humor. Picked again because of parking and a restaurant on site.

This would be our last 2 night stay in Romania.

We didnít do much after arriving yesterday other than relax on the terrace of our room and enjoy the views. Today we did a driving circuit of the painted monasteries. We visited five monasteries all unique in their own way. The frescoes were beautiful! I wonít go through each one although I will post a couple of pictures. Hard to pick a favorite as each was unique in some way.

The trip has been wonderful. I will always think of Romania with its haystacks and rolling hills.

Next we are off to Budapest for three nights and then on to a river cruise. I may start another thread for the next part of our trip

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Sep 11th, 2019, 09:36 AM
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Sep 11th, 2019, 01:04 PM
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Are they still using horses for transport in Maramures?

Have fun in Budapest, it's one of my favorite cities.
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Sep 11th, 2019, 07:45 PM
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Originally Posted by thursdaysd View Post
Are they still using horses for transport in Maramures?

Have fun in Budapest, it's one of my favorite cities.
Yes we saw horse drawn carts in both Maramureş and Bucovina. We even saw one cart pulled by oxen. The horses had red tassels on the bridle and looked very festive.

Thanks - weíre looking forward to Budapest.

Because there is so much to describe for the monasteries, I have put this link that may help

https://painted-monasteries.ro/

Last edited by patandhank; Sep 11th, 2019 at 08:34 PM.
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