Have we wandered into Germany? (First impressions of Transylvania.)
Transylvania Travel Blog› entry 178 of 251 › view all entries
July 31st, 2008 – by: cmgervais
The area around Bucharest was nothing much to look at: flat and nearly treeless, with bad architecture and power plants. U-G-L-Y. As we got further north, it became mountainous, with lots of trees. The road followed a river, and it probably would have been picturesque if we hadn’t been so distracted by all the garbage in the water and on the side of the road. What’s up with that!? It was horrible. Plastic bags are the scourge of the planet.
Finally, we arrived in Sibiu, a 12th century town in the Transylvania province of Romania. This town was voted the European Cultural Capital for 2007. I don’t really know what that means, but I had high hopes as we arrived.
We found our hotel easily, because it appears to be largest structure in town, and it was right on the road we drove into town. Convenient! After a little chill time in the room (which is very blue and has a glass-walled bathroom--!!!-- but is otherwise just fine), we went out to explore Sibiu. We turned left from the hotel to walk up Nicolae Balcescu Street. Almost immediately it became apparent… we’re not in Turkey anymore! The cute cobblestone street was lined with cafes, and people were faced out to the street, drinking enormous beers or coffee drinks, eating pizzas, and smoking cigarettes five at a time.
The old buildings on either side of the street were in great shape, and colorfully painted…the architecture strongly reminded me of Germany. (Turns out Sibui was built up in the 12th and 13th centuries by Saxons, and it went by the German name of Hermannstadt for many centuries…so that is why it is very German in appearance.)
The town itself is quite small, and we covered the main sights in a couple of hours using a map from the Tourist Information center. Obviously, we have moved out of the Old Mosque phase of our trip and into the Old Church phase. One of Sibui’s main attractions is the huge Biserica Romani Catolica (Catholic church) that sits on the main square of town, called Piata Mare.
So, the town is just wonderful. Everywhere we looked there was something delightful. Stone archways. Historic architecture. The town’s signature ‘eyebrow’ dormer windows, so it seems like the buildings are watching you. Liar’s Bridge (tell a lie as you pass over and it will crumble under you!), Cobblestones. CUTE. Love it.
Steve and I soaked it up, so happy to be in Europe. Everything so far on this trip has been so foreign and exotic (good of course, but tiring too), it just feels good to be in a region that feels somehow familiar and comfortable.
Later in the evening, we found a great Italian trattoria just off Piata Mare, where we had a half liter of delicious Italian white wine for about $3.60 (!!!), fantastic salads, and a truffle/mushroom pizza. The town was hopping and all the cafes were full by the time we walked home at 10pm. Wonderful. I love Germany… I mean, Romania!
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