When I was young, I always wanted to go to the seaside on holiday in Romania and couldn’t understand why we had to follow the national tradition of a week at the seaside followed by a week in the mountains. Nowadays, however, I much prefer the mountains (at least in my home country – for beaches are pretty similar everywhere in Europe).
The first part of our road trip was heading north out of Bucharest up the picturesque Prahova Valley (particularly colourful at this time of year) to Braşov. We only stopped for lunch because both the cable car at Buşteni and the Peleş Palace in Sinaia were closed on a Tuesday, but if you ever go that way, you should stop and check out both. (By the way, the s with cedilla is pronounced ‘sh’).
We stayed a few days in Braşov, also known as Kronstadt in German, because its symbol is of a crown on an oak tree. Not to be confused with the Russian Kronstadt near St Petersburg, it was a bustling medieval and Renaissance town of craftsmen and merchants, where German, Hungarian and Romanian ethnicities lived together in something resembling harmony.
While it does not have the grand architecture of Sibiu (which is where the Austro-Hungarian aristocracy lived), it is still full of beautiful old buildings, some of them more renovated than others.
It is also home to one of the narrowest streets in Europe, appropriately known as ‘Rope Street’. Each window looking out onto the street has been decorated by a different artist.
I have a soft spot for Braşov, though, and not just because it has been the scene of many an escapade during my high school and university years (it is only 2 hours from Bucharest, so we went skiing or hiking nearly every other weekend). It is also surrounded by mountains, so in just a few minutes you can be in the forest and feel that you have left all the urban hustle and bustle behind you.
The weather was not as kind to us here as it was throughout the rest of our trip. It only rained a little bit, but there was cloud cover, which meant we didn’t get the best views of or from the mountains. And it was very cold for two days, with some snowfall, especially up in the ski resort Poiana Braşov, where I learnt to ski again as a grown-up after a ski accident in my childhood put an end to winter sports for me, as far as my parents were concerned.
But it was the interplay of nature and architecture, as well as the friendly cats, which made us love Braşov.
This is getting too long, so I will have to tell you about the next stage of our journey in a separate blog post. I had some hard choices to make about which route to take to Sibiu, where my younger son’s godparents live. I was initially planning to go via Sighişoara, which is the most beautiful medieval towns in Romania, but a bit farther away. In the end, time and other circumstances made us opt for another route. But, as you will see, we discovered a lesser-known treasure there as well.
If you go there, try their Bulz (a sort of polenta and cheese mix rolled up into a ball) and their Papanaşi – enormous doughnuts traditionally served as a pair with blueberry jam and cream. Extremely filling – I can’t believe I used to be able to tackle those as a dessert. I now could barely finish one as a main course!
15 thoughts on “Romanian Road Trip: Mountain Country”
It looks beautiful Marina! The architecture and the setting are just gorgeous! ❤️
It is a really nice part of Romania, but then I am biased…
Another fascinating post.
Gorgeous scenery, beautiful architecture and scrumptious puddings! Your posts are boosting Romania up my holiday list. How are the trains there?
I didn’t take any trains this time, so I cannot give you an up-to-date report of trains. Traditionally, they have been less than stellar and quite slow (not too many express trains). However, after suffering on the commuter trains in England, I’m no longer sure that they are as bad as all that…
Ha! Point taken.
Just lovely 🙂
Looks like you had a fabulous time. Beautiful photos.
Oh this is such a beautiful post! Romania looks so lovely – the Sphinx rock formation is dramatic – as are the mountains and Rope Street. I’d love to see it all in person.
Anything to tempt you there…
How beautiful, Marina Sofia! Just absolutely gorgeous! It’s easy to see how much interesting history there is woven into these places, too. You can see it in the architecture, the names, and a lot of other things, too. Fascinating!
Gorgeous pictures, Maria. The landscapes and architecture are stunning. The wintry scene is just beautiful.
It really was breathtaking – and would have been even more so without the clouds.
Beautiful pictures, you’re going to boost tourism to Romania, all your readers feel like visiting the country now.
Thanks for sharing your photos with us, it’s nice to hear from a country we rarely hear about.
(well except for my son, whose best friend is French with Romanian parents)