It was with a bit of a heavy heart that we packed our bags, had our final breakfast, and checked out of Casa Reims. Our stay in Brasov had been just that little bit nicer because of the friendliness of the staff, the personal touches to breakfast, and the general homeliness of our accommodation.
Hardly any of them spoke english, which wasn’t a barrier. It does not take much to smile and say ‘hello’ or ‘good morning’. Every morning, we would stumble out of our room, pour a cup of fresh coffee, grab a roll of bread, cheese and ham, and the lovely lady (I think her name might have been Maria) would smile, nod and say ‘Omelette?’ as she pointed to cheese and ham. She would then prepare the omelette in front of us, juice some oranges and apples, and wish us a pleasant day.
In the evening, on our return, the gentleman at the desk would always stand as we entered the room, and inquire if we had a good day. With lots of gesturing, and pointing at pictures and mountains, we sort of got across what we had been up to.
Upon checking out, there were many hugs, kisses on both cheeks, and a wish for a safe journey and ‘please see us again.’ I tell you what. If I am ever in this part of the world again, I would certainly stay at Casa Reims again, but for now, it was time to continue the adventure. Bran Castle was calling to us, and it was with great excitement that we started out on the road again.
While Peles Castle looked like a fairytale inside and out, Bran Castle was a fortress. It towered over the town on top of the hill, with a steep road winding up to it. It did take a little bit to find the entrance, as you had to battle your way through stalls of hawkers all trying to sell the ‘Dracula’ thing with all sorts of trinkets on display.
The Castle is a vertical wonder piece of intricate hallways, steep stairs and multiple levels. Secret passages led you deeper into the castle. I forget how big people are now compared to back when this Castle was built. There is no way you could get more than one person on the staircase at a time now… and often I was twisted sideways so that I could fit into the passages. Don’t forget to duck when you go through the doorways either!!
This was obviously a tourist haven, and once again we learnt patience as we were trapped behind a group of Japanese Tourists who needed to pose with every artefact individually before they would move onto the next room or the next staircase. Still, it was a wonderful experience, and you could certainly see how Bran Stoker could transform this place into the Dracula legend.
After thoroughly exploring the Castle, we headed down to the stalls… It seemed like the decent thing to do, to find a Dracula trinket to bring back home. Unfortunately I found most of the stalls to contain cheap, tacky gadgets that I did not want to buy. I did find a T-shirt I liked, and some lace products that had nothing to do with Dracula, but looked like local produce.
Lunch was at a restaurant in close proximity to the stalls. We ordered a pizza, which seemed to consist of cheese and a couple of pieces of salami slapped on it. In all honesty, the food was good. The service was terrible. The staff did not seem to care that we were there. It took several efforts to get a table (there was no one else there!) then to order, and finally to even pay the bill.
We then hit the road again, heading to Sighisoara. The landscape was changing dramatically from the mountainous scenes of Brasov, to more gentler rolling hills and pasture lands. It was not uncommon to see a shepherd tending his flock along the roadside. There does not seem to be fences here to keep animals in, but at the same time, they don’t seem to wander either. Going through some towns we were even stuck behind horse and carts as they still plodded along the roadway. The road is used by everything… horses and carts, tractors, cars, trucks, pedestrians and cyclists alike… It is just a case of who can get around what the fastest, without crashing into anything.
We entered Sighisoara in the late afternoon and checked into the Hotel Korona. It looked a bit flash, but wasn’t costing the earth. Once again, sadly, the flashiness of the hotel is where things stop… The staff are really quite indifferent. In comparison to our last accommodation, this was almost hostile. We were vaguely pointed in the direction of our room, which I must admit, is quite stunning. We decided to dine in as there is a restaurant and bar that overlook the swimming pool and we did not think it prudent to walk about a strange town at night.
The menu was simple, but affordable… even better, wine was only 5 Lei per glass… about $2.50… Unfortunately the staff were difficult to get hold of once again, and after getting death glares from the waitress after ordering our fourth (or was it our fifth?) glass, we got a bottle of wine and retreated to our room for the rest of the evening… We had fitted dinner in with our glasses of wine and found the portions to be very tasty and of a size that you could consume without wasting too much.
Tomorrow, we explore Sighisoara.