Singaporeans Abroad - Exotic Europe Series (4) Romania - Home of Dracula & his Vampire Brethren
I haven't travelled enough of Romania to say I was disappointed; but I was.
While planning for this trip, everyone (tripadvisor, lonely planet) said in Romania, Transylvania was the place to visit.
Picture of Map from Romanian Tourism Board
And thats exactly what we did.
Once we touched down in Bucharest, we caught a bus straight to the main train station, asked for two tickets to Brasov, and off we went. (Of course we had already checked the train timmings beforehand. http://www.cfrcalatori.ro/)
An open ended return ticket cost us around 12 Euros each. *Note* you have to pay an extra 1 Euro to confirm your seat when you return.
From the Brasov train station, its about 20-30mins by bus to the old town. Or, you could just pay for a taxi which shouldn't cost more than 3-4 Euros. No problem for Singaporean's here, we like to bargain. Just do what you would do in Bangkok. Whatever the guy says, cut him by at least 70%. One taxi driver even insisted it cost 10 Euros!
We stayed at the Rolling Stone Hostel which was around 15mins walk to the Old Town and cost us around 8 Euros.
Would we stay here again? Well, I guess it was alright, clean spacious rooms, good variety of day tours, and free breakfast. Nothing to complain about for sure.
Church on the way to the old town
Save for a couple of nice churches, and a part of the town that looked like the one in the movie "Van Helsing", there wasn't anything much interesting on the way from our hostel to the Old Town though.
When one of our hostel buddies managed to get a room in the heart of the old town, I was like "damm, I should have done more research."
Brasov Old Town
The old town of Brasov isn't that huge. 2 days is more than enough to walk every inch of it.
We kind of bought into the whole vampire thing; what with movies like "Underworld", "Dracula" and even kids shows like "Transylvania". Thus, I planned most of the Romanian part of our trip around Transylvania.
Things to do in Transylvania
(Above) The interior of the castle
It was just hype. "Dracula's Castle"aka "Bran Castle" was ordinary, filled with rowdy kids and an expensive entrance fee, 8 Euros (For Romania, thats a lot). Oh, did I mention the crowds? It was like an IT Fair in Singapore with tourists everywhere.
More tourists..... We queued for at least one and a half hours
And Gimmicky costume walkers to give you the "Dracula Experience"....
And that was it.
As disappointing as it was, you still have to go there. If not, it's like going to Paris and not seeing the Eiffel Tower.
There are beautiful views of the Transylvanian forests and country side from the top of Rasnov. The trees look like those in "Twilight" where the vampires fly around. The rest of the fortress however, is a let down.
(Above) Inside of Rasnov. Nothing to shout about.
Plus, you have to take this silly tractor up where everyone shoves and squeezes you because it can only take a limited number of people at one go. Missing it means you either wait another 10 mins before the next shoving competition or face a 20 minute hike up to the top.
The Tractor where the shoving competion is held every 10 minutes.
3. Peles Castle
It's better to visit the Peles Castle in nearby Sinaia, more impressive and it costs a lot less than Bran.
For between 21 -30 Euros depending on how good a deal you got on your day tour, you can visit all three attractions. Tours start at 9am and end before 5pm. These costs do not include the entrance fees. For Bran, it's around 10 Euros and for Rasnov and Peles; 4-6 Euros.
4.Council Square, Brasov
This is pretty much the centre of Brasov Old Town. Brasov is the main city in the Transylvanian region. Right smack at the Square is the Black Church, a major landmark in Brasov.
The Black Church, a key attraction in Brasov
Also, at the main square in Brasov, you can sample lots of street food. I didnt know they had "Tornado Potato" there too! Always thought it was a "Pasar Malam" thing.
(Above) Watching our potato getting deepfried
The first time I saw it, I thought they were some sort of potato balls. How wrong I was. They were donuts!
There are at least 10 differnet flavours for you to choose from. We chose chocolate as the other flavours were in Romanian. They were delicious and cost us 1.2 Euros!
(Above) Happy Spending for a tea time snack.
Don't get me wrong, Romania has magnificent castles, and beautiful forests. But sadly, a boring communist looking capital in Bucharest; with the Palace of Parliament as its sole attraction.
(Above) The Palace of Parliament, probably the only thing worth seeing in Bucharest. It is the second largest building in the world after The Pentagon.
To set the record straight, I'm not saying that Romania isn't a great place to visit. I'm sure it is. I'm just disappointed we didn't get to experience more of it because of a lack of time or planning on our part. I would have loved to trek the Translyvanian Alps like my other hostel buddies did.
Just don't buy into the vampire hype and expect too much; it makes it a less disappointing travel destination that way.
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