Brasov - a Wonderful City to Visit Nov 25, 2013
I arrived in Brasov on a train from Sibiu on a Saturday afternoon in May. As I exited Brasov’s train station I was greeted by a taxi taxi driver who offered to drive me to my hotel for 100 Lei, about 30 dollars. Pointing to my right temple, I said, “Cookoo. Nul Multzumesc.” = “Cookoo. No thanks.” I purchased a day pass, Abonament Toate Linile, for 6 Lei from the Brasov Bus System kiosk and a half hour later was at my hotel.
For all purposes, I only spent one day touring Brasov because I wisely took a train to the nearby city of Sinaia the day after my arrival and visited its monastery, Peles Castle, and its highest ski lodge. The following day, a Monday, two other American tourists and I toured Brasov together. At 8 am we each consumed a piece of pastry and a cup of coffee at the German Bakery Cafe on Strada Muresenilor just south of the Market Square. Afterward we proceeded up the street, turned right on Strada Dupa Ziduri, and ascended the trail leading to the Black Tower on the mountainside west of the inner city. Having taken several photographs of the city from there, we ambled to the White Tower, an impressive watch tower about 65 feet high. Both the Black Tower and the White Tower were built in the late 1400′s as a part of the city’s fortress to protect its inhabitants against invading Turks and Tartars. Before these towers became tourist attractions their 20 foot high entrances could only be accessed by ladders. The White Tower always remained fairly white. The other tower, however, was blackened by a fire and named the “Black Tower” – a name it retained even after it was renovated and “whitened” again. Leaving the White Tower behind us, we descended the steps to the walkway around the fortress wall. We walked down Strada B-dul Erolier and passed by the National Art Museum, which was closed, like the vast majority of Romanian museums are on Mondays. Continuing our journey, we strolled to the western wall of the city and then went through it to the cable car station at the bottom of Tampa Mountain. There were plenty of tourists there, waiting to use the cable cars, but the cars were temporarily not in service. Having visited the Art Museum and the top of Tampa Mountain in 1997, I unequivocally recommend that all tourists to Brasov visit these attractions - the museum for its beautiful portrait and landscape pictures from classical Romanian painters; the top of Tampa Mountain reached via the cable cars for its spectacular, panoramic view of Brasov.
After relaxing near the cable car station for ten minutes, we went back to the city’s Market Square and strolled down Strada Republicii. We sat under a sun umbrella at an outdoor cafe and each enjoyed a bottle of water and the sight of hundreds of people sitting under sun umbrellas or strolling by the city’s shops. Most of the people under the umbrellas were drinking beer. Only a few of them were eating lunch. Sixteen years ago Strada Republicii was the busiest walkway in Brasov, but it was fairly empty. Then it had only had a few restaurants, and there were no umbrellas, tables, and chairs to sit on in the middle of it. Now the street was bustling with life. Clowns dressed in yellow suits twisted balloons into the shapes of little animals and handed them to children. Waiters hurried from table to table, distributing glasses and bottles of beer and other beverages, and collecting money for their sales and services. Other waiters stood stiffly in white shirts and black trousers next to their restaurant entrances. There were also vendors with little tables of cheap jewelry, amateur paintings of Transylvania, or photographs of Brasov and Count Dracula’s Bran Castle. After my American companions and I drank our water and paid our bills, we returned to our hotel and agreed to go with each other to the train station after an hour’s rest.
Once in the train station, I examined the large schedule on the station’s wall for trains departing Brasov and noted that the following word just to the right of Cluj Napoca: “Anulata” = “Cancelled.” Being that I had planned to travel to Cluj the next day, I concluded that “Anulata” was not a good thing. Leaving the train station, the American tourists and I visited the bus station next it. We learned that a bus was scheduled to leave Brasov for Cluj Napoca at 540 am. Using our daily bus passes, we got on a city bus and exited it at Brasov’s Central Park (Parcul Central) just north of the inner city. We enjoyed the sights of children playing on playground equipment, old men playing chess on concrete tables and benches, beautiful weeping willows, and red and yellow tulips. We left the park, walked around the inner city, and, after visiting the Black Church, ate supper at a Turkish Restaurant near the German Bakery.
The next morning my American companions and I took a taxi to the bus station and arrived there at 530 where we met a young Romanian college student who was also waiting for the bus. Around 6 am the young lady called someone on her cell phone and informed us at that the bus was delayed. At 630, after talking on her cell phone, she informed us that the bus would probably not be coming, and she offered to drive us to Cluj in her car. The Americans and I declined her offer, but we changed our minds when she informed us at 645 that the bus had broken down and would not be coming that day. With the exception of the friendly Romanian driver, I am sure that we all left Brasov, feeling that we did not see enough of it. Alas, we still had other Romanian adventures to enjoy in some other beautiful cities of Transylvania. More detailed information about my adventures in Brasov are at http://www.rocherichard.com/category/blog/about-romania .
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