(It’s ‘Brașov’, but the heading font I’m using doesn’t support the ș character)
Landed in Bucharest, and yeah, it was Romania - no toilet seats at the airport (or general sense of function), but we got our luggage and were on our way soon enough.
The road between Otopeni airport and Centura București (a big ring road around the city) is …. the worst. It is about 3km long with no way to turn around in case you need to for any reason - big concrete barrier down the middle.
Our first encounter was a taxi driver who refused to listen, and passed by our (very close to the airport) hotel (by the water park! fun!). Due to not being able to turn around, this quadrupled the fare. How convenient.
The hotel was cute and clean, and we seemed to have it mostly to ourselves. Had a good view of the many planes and various military hardware coming over.
One decent sleep later and we used the hotel shuttle to get back to the airport to pick up our rental car. Yes, we had to loop all the way down that bloody road first to travel what was only 500m really.
Grabbed some breakfast/lunch snacks at the conveniently located market inside the airport and got the rental car shuttle another 500m to the parking lot where they keep the cars (only 500m from our bloody hotel - seriously, that road).
We signed the paperwork for our lovely whatevermobile and got on our way, heading south on that road for the last time, hooray!
As soon as we’re travelling at speed, a judder, violent and clearly terrible. We pull over on a side road to inspect: a massive bolt is lodged in the wheel and is obviously not a good thing. We have no choice but to travel the 6km round trip again, hoping like hell the wheel didn’t explode.
We get a new car, a Dacia.
Colosseum Retail Park
Emily’s phone can’t roam here (I never bothered), so we were without contact with the outside world. Road trip in a strange place without a backup way to contact anyone or use the googles was too much to contemplate, so we headed to the nearest [phone provider] store I could find. That turned out to be a mall on the outskirts of the city and conveniently not too far out of the way.
Many gigabytes-of-data-loaded-up later we’re heading north on the 7/71/72a
A pretty road heading into the mountains. Stereotypical sights include:
Horse drawn carriages
The mountain pass was steep and rainy, and pretty, but no prettier than NZ. Bran is the place with ‘that’ castle - you can tell by the busloads of tourists. We did not stop.
We arrive at our hotel, and opt for a room in the newer building (the one with the indoor pool, which was well used). Hotel dinner - cheap for us and truly good food, though the whole thing was far too fancy for me, having no idea what I’m doing.
Soundproofing is non-existent and the neighbours are children. Maybe the ‘old’ hotel would have been better?
Breakfast at the hotel, buffet style.
Went to a mall (“Coresi Shopping Resort”) - Lego costs the same as everywhere else, sad.
Back to the old town (a bit too far/deadly to go back to the hotel then walk). Tried to park, eventually found one (Romania loves driving and provides no alternatives) but it’s all coin fed, so after faffing about for a while we *audibly groans* found a parking lot in the old town and paid the few dollars that cost us for the day.
The weather was iffy, but cleared as the day went on.
The Hollywood style ‘Brașov’ sign is, I guess, an ode to the many movies filmed in the area.
Biserica Neagră (“The Black Church”)
and the most perfect tree
Coma inducing lunch at Sergiana - a huge and beautiful basement serving dangerously large portions of meat for very reasonable prices. You get a plate of pork crackling and raw onions, alongside a huge bowl of delicious bread just for tuning up.
Strada Sforii - “one of the narrowest streets in Europe”
Up on the hill looking back down on the old town
Another bargain-priced, overly-formal and amazingly-good dinner at the hotel restaurant. I had a tiny soup made of fairies and emily had a mystery meat platter (“what’s on it?”, “err, it’s a surprise…”)