The plan for the day was a simple one. Walk around the perimeter of the old town, visit sites such as the Bastonul Graft, White Tower, Black Tower (which is white by the way), the weavers bastion and other towers along the wall. We were also going to see a few museums in the town and the Black Church which dominates nearly every photo. Part of the plan was to go to the top of Mount Tampa via Cable Car to get photos of the town from the lofty heights of the Mountain overlooking the town.
We found the Bastonul Graft easy enough… or what we thought was the Bastonul Graft… and after climbing a very steep staircase, took some photos across the town. The area of the old town really isn’t that large and from this point you could see right across town to the wall on the other side at the foot of the mountain. We followed the track around to what we thought was the White Tower…
and found we were looking at the Black Tower…
rather confusing because it is painted white… so we backtracked to find that when we climbed the stairs, we were actually at the White Tower (yep… it is white) and that the Bastonul Graft was at the base of the stairs… The White Tower was closed… because it was Monday.
At this point we decided the paper map was a bit useless and followed the tourist boards to find our next destination, the Weavers Bastion…. like I said, the place isn’t really all that big, so you don’t really get lost, just diverted.
After following the base of the mountain, we came to the cable car station… to find it wasn’t working because it was between seasons (and probably because it was Monday?).
We headed into town to decide on what to do for the rest of the day… this was important, as it was lunch time, and the question really was how many glasses of wine were to be consumed with lunch… if we were going driving anywhere, there would be no wine with lunch.
We opted to do the museums and look around some of the shops and markets, so settled into a nice little place… no idea what it was called… something to do with a library or books… and ordered a pizza to share with a glass of red…. then another glass of red… then…oops, better go and look at a few things before we settle in for the afternoon (it was really, really good red wine!)
So off we staggered to the Black Church. Of course… it was Monday… and the Church was closed. So was the museum, although it was staffed and you could buy trinkets, you just couldn’t go in and see anything. Further more, the markets appeared to be only a Sunday thing in the square.
It was about this time, standing in the square and looking at the mountain, that we decided since we couldn’t drive anywhere (that wine thing), that we should climb, yep, climb the mountain… I mean… how hard could it be?
Let me tell you, I am not fit. I am about 10kg overweight, have done no exercise for like years, have a bad knee and a bad back, and most importantly, I have an absolute fear of heights… So I fully agreed to climbing the mountain of course (damn you wine befuddled mind!)
The first ten minutes was fine… then Cath left me in her dust as she powered to the top of the mountain, and I slowly heaved myself up step after step, puffing and panting. The only thing that kept me going up, was that going down did not seem that much better… sort of a no win situation. I could not believe I got lapped, not once, but twice, by the same runner who was doing a circuit of the mountain!!
(Edit from Cath: oh come on I did peer over the edge of the track and/or wait if I couldn’t see you several times on the way up just to make sure you were ok and still coming up said mountain…)
I made it to the top where Cath was patiently waiting for me and even managed to get some quite spectacular photos of the town, just to prove that we had made it… from the bottom of the hill, you can read the word “Brasov” which is a sign erected at the top of the mountain overlooking the town (just in case you forget where you are). We were actually standing beside this sign overlooking the town.
I am soooo glad we did actually climb to the top… now to get down…
The problem was, that only a short time ago, this mountain was covered in snow… which meant that the ground was soft and muddy. I wasn’t that great at physics at school, but even I know that the slopes we were going down probably needed a bit more friction on them to be able to sustain the mass on top of them.. i.e. my body weight! If I thought going down was going to be easier than going up, I was wrong.
There were no hand rails, and the track was about a metre wide… in some places only the width of your foot, before it went over a steep edge. The black soil was slippery and quickly built up beneath your boots, causing a lot of uneasy moments as your foot slid out from under you… then there was that runner again… how he wasn’t breaking his neck and falling off the edge of the mountain, I don’t know.
We went through one particularly steep, slippery section where getting a foothold was almost impossible, and hand grips on rocks and tree roots was about the only thing keeping us from sliding down the mountain. As usual, I was quite a few metres away from Cath, praying that I wasn’t going to die, when she suddenly froze and there was this almighty crashing through the bush. I clung to my rock and glimpsed something… brown… Bear? too quick, Wolf like creature? possible, Vampire (we are in Dracula country!) nope it was daylight… It was actually a deer we had startled.
(edit Cath: ok so I was moving and trying to snap a photo before it disappeared…)
I made my way to where Cath was, but the deer had gone into hiding. Then I decided that a faster descent down the mountain was in order. My feet slipped out from under me… no problem.. hands are on the ground… then my hands slipped out… then I was sliding around the corner. I stopped before the edge, sprang to my feet ‘ta dah!’ and decided to walk the rest of the way down the mountain.
Actually it was great fun. I was glad when we finally got to the bottom, but had that fantastic sense of achievement that you get after doing something you are kind of shit scared to do, but do it anyway.
We finished the night at a fantastic Italian restaurant, then nearly choked when the bill came… nearly 400 lei. After questioning the waiter, he apologised profusely and admitted that bill belonged to the next table… ours was only 200 lei 🙂