Travel Blog Daniella and Luke's Travelblog

3Sep/10Off

Brasov, Bran and Rasnov

After spending two days in Bucharest, we took a train north to the city of Brasov, famous for its well-retained medieval old city center, churches and city walls and fortifications.

The train trip took us from the large plains of the low country surrounding Bucharest into across the Carpathian alps and into Transylvania.  Although the train ride was supposed to be a 2.5 hour ride, some unexpected and unexplained delays extended our travel time to a just over four hours for a 160Km journey.  Whilst the constant stopping and delays became a little tiring, it did give us the chance to observe some of the fantastic countryside views ascending into the high country.

On arriving in Brasov, we had more than a little difficulty in finding the guest house at which we were staying due to less than completely accurate Google Maps.  Only after unexpected, but very kind help from a friendly, English speaking stranger did we find the guest house.

Once settled we headed out to explore Brasov.

The city hall sits in the middle of the center square of the old town.  Dissidents were once tortured within this building.

Old church in the city center, notice the KFC sign on the building next to it.

The Black Church; one of the largest examples of the Gothic architectural style gained it's name when fires blacked it's walls.

The Black Tower.  Unfortunately not the epic Middle Earth one, but rather an important part of the medieval fortifications of Brasov and clearly more white than black.

View from the Black Tower over old town Brasov showing the clear scale of the Black Church.

Brasov's cheesy Hollywood style sign.  Bran and Rasnov also have similar signs.

The White Tower, the second tower in medieval Brasov's deference system and from which the Orcish armies were repelled on ought-eight.

The garrison that provided a supply link for the walled city over the surrounding moat to the surrounding lands.  The remaining city wall is visible in the foreground.

A restored city gate.

This was the sign on an auto shop near to where we were staying.  Notice the subtle influence of the Isilon logo in the design.

The following day we caught a bus to nearby Bran, famous for being the childhood home of Vlad Tepes.  Buses in Romania are a strange lot.  On the city routes the buses are electric, powered from the chaotic, overhead tangle of wires.  Buses to regional areas seem mostly to be the retired city buses; older models with worn interiors and banged out mechanicals that rattle and scream their way along the bumpy ride.

It also seems that the bus drivers are given free reign in the decor of their bus, with long strips of flags, stickers, religious avatars and assorted paraphernalia strewn about the cabin even adorning the window space immediately in front of the drivers view.

After stopping for petrol at a servo, the driver quickly had us on the way to a short 40 minute trip to Bran.  View of Bran Castle from the base.

And an interior shot of the courtyard.

Leaving Bran, we stopped off at Rasnov, also home to a famous castle.  Rasnov Castle is perched high on a hill overlooking the city.

Without a map of any sort we walked from the bus stop in a direction roughly towards the castle hill, and walking through the archway of a building, found a small, rough and very steep track leading up the hill.  Rationing that the light posts on the track must be an indication that this was the correct route we started a long, demanding, but fun hike.

View from the top of the trail.  An abandoned power plant/refinery? is visible just after the town and the Carpathian mountain range is viewable in the far distant.

Unfortunately, although seemingly complete from the exterior, the majority of the interior building of Rasnov Castle are largely in a state of complete or near-complete destruction.  The complete building remaining are mostly reconstructed replicas that have been erected seemingly to server only as overpriced souvenir vendors.

The new mortar and materials takes away a little from the experience, however the former school (on the left) is apparently one of the better preserved original buildings in the complex.

View of the castle gates.

And the city wall gates.

Visit complete, we found that the other side of the castle hill had a nice paved walkway down to a main road, so we took this route into town and headed back to Brasov.  Once there, we rose the cable car to the top of the hill overlooking the town (the same hill boasting the Hollywood style city sign in earlier shots).

A view over Brasov; the Black Church is the large building in the lower left, the town square and the city hall are in the lower center, the White Castle is in the middle left and the new section of Brasov can be seen strecthing back towards the distance.

And travelling back down in the cable car.

We walked back along the old city wall embankment to find a preserved guard tower next to this tennis club sporting a fairly nice club house.

Strada Sforii - the narrowest street in the world.

And that's it.  We spent the remainder of the day travelling back to Bucharest and attempting to avoid beggars and pay toilets whilst waiting for an overnight train to Budapest.

All said and done, Romainia is an odd kind of place.  Beautiful Byzantine inspired buildings sit side by side with direlect communist apartment blocks.  Stray dogs lay in the dirt meters away from the seats in a trendy cafe.  You can't drink the water but cheap fast food and beer is everywhere.  Smartly dressed young men speak perfect English whilst peasent archetypes ride horse-driven carraiges down highways.  At the end of it all, I'm still not sure what to think.