Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Days 16-20: Vampires, the 2nd biggest building in the world and "fried crap"


First stop in Romania was Brasov which was very nice. Cute city nestled in the Transylvanian Alps with very German-style architecture. Hardly surprising really as it used to be the German city of Kronstadt. There's a phenomenal Hollywood-style sign above the town to remind you where you are, in case you forget. Friendly bunch in the hostel, which is always nice, but hardly anyone here.

Took the cable car up to the top of the mountain on the first day and roamed around in the woods, finally coming out at a bizarre spot where people were BBQing in some sort of flood basin with cows all around them.

I took the bus out to Bran and Krasnov on my second full day in Brasov. Bran is billed as Dracula's castle, although Vlad Tepes actually only stayed there for one night, apparently. It does look the part though.

I then called in at Krasnov on the way back and tried to find the castle there but ended up taking a wrong turn and hiking through the forest for quite a way. Bizarrely there was some sort of biker-fest going on at the bottom of the hill, so much of my walking was to a thrash metal soundtrack, including what sounded like a cover of Annie Lennox's There Must Be An Angel.

I eventually found the castle having finally realised I was on the wrong hill.

After today's double-header I'm officially castled out.

On my last night I went out to the Casa Romanesca restaurant. Excellent place complete with traditional dancing and a menu that included "Fried Crap".

Bucharest has been a bit of a shock to the system after the rural idyll that was Brasov and the relative civilisation of Budapest. This is the first place where I've even been mildly concerned about getting pickpocketed and the like. Touch wood nothing like that has happened though. I budgeted 3 nights here but having seen all the main sights in one day I'll be leaving tomorrow. Took in the majesty of the Palace of Parliament, the world's second biggest building (there's a spot prize for whoever comments with what the biggest is...). Styled on what Ceaucescu saw in Pyongyang apparently and there is a certain similarity. Ironically he never lived to see it finished. Actually technically no-one has lived to see it finished as it's only 95% there, and the tour guide doubted that they'd ever actually get it all done.

I also roamed around the city centre although most of the old town was cleared by Mr C to make way for housing blocks, as shown by the piccie below, taken from atop the Palace of Parliament.

Below is the communist party HQ from whence Ceaucescu made his helicopter-borne escape in 1989. Although he didn't stay escaped for long.

Because it's a latin language I'm getting to grips a bit better with Romanian than Hungarian, although I do keep saying "Köszönöm" (the only Hungarian word I learnt) to people here, which causes some confusion.

Next stop is Chisinau in Moldova. Planning to head into the Transdniestr enclave to get another fix of one of the world's last bastions of communism. At least that's the official line from the breakaway government.


  1. 1st biggest *must* be Debenhams in Exeter?

  2. I found it the other way round comparing the atmos in Budapest v Bucharest (although they were having a neo Nazi rally in the former when i was there). Hey ho, did you get to the Terror Haza in Budapest?

    (BTW: i am your other brother, in case the username is a bit confusing)

  3. There were a fair amount of posters for Jobbik around in Hungary and they're the rightwingers. Other than that it was fairly pleasant. Just walked home through some dodgy bits of Bucharest though so it can't be that bad!

  4. Isn't the biggest building in the world the Boeing factory? Rich

  5. Nope, the Pentagon. Although you would think aeroplane factories would be up there.