After breakfast we piled into the car with the intent to backtrack to Sinaia in order to visit Peles Castle, built as a summer retreat for King Carol the 1st. Driving through the winding roads was no less beautiful because we’d seen this section before, it was a little less hair raising though primarily because there wasn’t as much traffic to contend with.
We walked up the cobbled street, having parked our car at a hotel down the road and walked up and around a bend and saw Peles Castle for the first time and looks just like its jumped out of the pages of a children’s fairy tail book.
Its just as impressive as it looks up close, with statues surrounding the courtyard and paintings high on the walls.
Rather than just look at the outside we paid the small entrance fee to get a tour of the ground floor, the first floor was closed unfortunately otherwise we would have done that as well. None withstanding the fact that I hate the ‘group tour’ feel I’d rather put up with that for the chance to see inside and it was worth it.
Mostly the pair of us trailed along a rather large group with descriptions of the rooms we were visiting being given in multiple languages. Unfortunately generally speaking since there were that many in the group I couldn’t get in the room half the time to see what was being talked about until after or hear most of it anyway.
Still its an incredible castle to see, even if I did have to resist the urge to smack a few people who couldn’t seem to help themselves reaching out to touch the exhibits.
We had thought, earlier that perhaps we could go to both Peles then head to Bran Castle before returning to Brasov however since we had an afternoon pickup for the Bear Hide we decided that it would be cutting things too fine to attempt to do both so after exploring Peles Castle we hit the road and headed back to Brasov.
Lunch was a simple affair nothing to really write home about, not bad but not all that spectacular either.
Looking at the time when we finished our late lunch we just had time to squeeze in a visit to the Black Church since it had been closed yesterday. Unfortunately they do not allow photo’s inside the church so we can not give you an visual of what its like.
At 8 lei for the entrance however its still worth ducking inside if you happen to be in Brasov and given how it dominates the old town it kind of had me intrigued to see inside. One handy thing is spotted around the church are stands with flip cards with descriptions of what you are seeing in different languages, a nice touch I thought. The 4000-pipe organ built by Buchholz of Berlin in 1839 is certainly impressive and the sound ringing out in the church is incredible even if we did only hear someone tinkering with it while we were there.
Then it was time. I was a little excited I admit. It was time to go off and find some bears, real live brown bears! We were picked up by the company doing the tour, Carpathian Nature Tours along with 5 other people. It was a short drive out of town to where we would spend the next few hours in the hope of seeing a brown bear.
We were given a set of instructions first, like no flash, turn off phones, turn off anything that makes a noise etc etc. Of course there is always that person who can not work out how to turn off their flash and ends up taking multiple flash photos before working out how to turn it off.
It was perhaps a 10 minute walk into the bush to where the bear hide was located. Despite what my imagination led me to believe a bear hide would look like it was actually a little wooden hut with windows and seats.
We were lucky enough when we first rocked up that one of the younger bears was already there having a feed so we quickly snapped some photo’s. Then we settled in to wait.
Hours. I was beginning to think I really wasn’t cut out for this wild life photography thing and perhaps I should have brought a book with me….
Then as the day got latter the bears started coming in, in twos and threes. All you could hear was the clicking of shutters as we all snapped photos. Lots of photos. I must admit I was wishing I had a better lens than what I did and can finally appreciate why people pay horrible amounts of money for them.
In the low light I only managed to get a couple of photos that were not blurred, I commented at one point that the bear’s agents really had to talk to them about modelling for us a little better and striking and holding a pose a little better…
Ok so the reason the bears come to the clearing is because the tour operators put out some food for them. I must admit I’d rather pay money to help preserve the bears and see them in the safety of the bear hide than meet a hungry brown bear out side the protection of the bear hide.
As bored as I’d been earlier it seemed that time had flown by and it was time to pack up and leave to get back to the car before it got fully dark. Something about it probably not being a good idea to meet a bear in the dark…..
By that stage I’d managed to fill up my memory card and had been reaching into my bag for a second, thinking
‘but, but I have another two memory cards…..’
All up I really recommend it, make sure you have a good camera and lens though!!!