Spring Break Trip!
06.04.2012 - 13.04.2012 26 °F
Friday April 6
8:28am. This holiday began splendidly with a very sweet man driving me to the airport at 5am. The airport was surprisingly mellow and I got to enjoy two cups of coffee and a good book (thanks Misti!) before hopping aboard for my Romanian adventure. I am meeting Charles at the airport in Bucharest! Super excited Kat face!!
Sunday April 8
6:22pm. I have been a slacker with writing down our adventures, so I will catch you up. I landed in Bucharest on Friday and met Charles at the baggage claim. It was soooooooo good to see him! We waited for about an hour and a half at the rental car place to get our car. We were informed that we were being upgraded...which scared us, because we aren't quite sure what we would have bee given pre-upgrade. We hopped in the car, got gas, and took off in the direction of Brasov.
Brasov was beautiful and in the Carpathian Mountains. We drove around for a bit trying to find the right road to get to our hotel. After a little while, we found the street...which we have renamed Carpathian Highway...which is a little one-lane stone road winding up the mountain. It was very precarious. We quickly remarked that the road would be particularly treacherous in the snow. The apartment, 9 Suites Brasov, was lovely!! We had a beautiful 2 bedroom apartment in a huge villa on the mountain. It was more than enough space for us and very inexpensive. We definitely recommend staying here! It was a short hike down the mountain to old town Brasov. We walked all over old town Brasov.
We had dinner two nights in a row at Gerbal Carpatin- a local brewhouse and restaurant. Delicious food, beer, and atmosphere. We walked all over the square and up the mountain to the Citadel...which coincidently was closed. Good hike though! The parks were lovely, people seemed friendly enough, and the language is beautiful. We really liked Brasov.
We went to Castle Peles and Castle Bran today. We drove out to Castle Peles...were told to park down below and hike up to the castle in the rain...and instead convinced a security guard to let us park closer. We had to wait in freezing rain for the tour to start...then we had to wear slippers over our shoes while in the castle. The castle was the most magnificent building I have ever been in. The ornate wood carvings, phenomenal weapons, and gorgeous glass chandeliers were absolutely breathtaking. It was enormous and completely worth driving out to visit. So incredibly amazing.
Castle Bran is the Dracula castle. We were able to park close to it as well...thank goodness, because it was 35 degrees and raining. Brrrr! We were able to tour this castle on our own time, not through a forced guided tour, which was nice. It was also huge and beautiful. I can't really wrap my mind around a building that has been around for that long! It was very cool. We were frozen by the time we left and sought refuge from the rain in a nearby coffee shop. I had a delightful tiramisu coffee latte. yumm.
The drive back to Brasov through the mountains was gorgeous. It started snowing as we drove home....down our Carpathian Highway. We are now warm in our apartment looking out the window at the snow thinking of how hungry we are and how all the food is down the mountain in the city. To drive down Carpathian Highway with snow...or to skip dinner...that is the question. We are off to Sibiu tomorrow for the next three nights Hope it is as lovely as Brasov has been!
Monday April 9
We are in Sibiu at our new home for the next three nights. Today was an adventure! I woke up this morning to find the sky lights in my room covered with snow. Our Carpathian Paradise was a winter wonderland. We sipped coffee and watched the snow for a while before working up the courage to drive down Carpathian Highway. We safely made it down the mountain in our car, who we have named Hueilui de Pui. We quickly rounded up some croissants and coffee and headed out toward Sighisoara. We had no idea that meant driving through snowy mountains up and down windy roads with 180 degree curves in our little manual car. Thank goodness Charles was driving. We stopped in a few precious towns to walk around their citadels and churches. No luck finding an entrance through the fortified walls though.
The drive was lovely...with snow-capped hills, flocks of sheep (with sheep dogs that tried to chase our car off the road when we stopped to take pictures), horse-drawn carriages, and hitch bikers all over the place. Romania is absolutely beautiful. I keep thinking it looks like the Shire on Lord of the Rings. I love the ridges in the hills..not something you see often in Texas or Qatar.
We got to what we thought was Sibiu...and tried to find our B&B for about an hour and a half. It was a much bigger city than we anticipated...and only had street names to go on. We persevered and eventually found our new home. It is a nice little villa near old down Sibiu. We checked in, layered on more clothes, and went wandering around the old town square. We got a bunch of sweets to try at the market and had a lovely dinner at a little restaurant.
It is much, much colder than I anticipated it being in April. It has been between 8 and 40 degrees all day...and I am ready to be warm again. It is times like this that I wish I had a fireplace. I will definitely have a fireplace or at minimum fire pitt my next home. Decision made.
I am loving Romania. I really like the language...and how easy it is to figure things out from their similarities to Spanish. I think the countryside is gorgeous. If it was warmer, I would love to camp and do all of the hiking through the forests. However, I would freeze my buns off in this weather.
Charles is an awesome travel buddy. He has the same spontaneous "let's follow that road!" spirit that I do. I think I have been laughing the whole time we have been traveling...which is difficult, as I still have a pretty wicked cough and laughing leads to coughing. I have gone through at least half a bag of cough drops so far. Totally worth it though. After doing Sri Lanka on my own in December, I know I am capable of traveling alone but I am really enjoying the companionship this time.
We don't have wifi at this hotel...which is probably a good thing. I sometimes need someone to forcibly unplug me and disconnect me from my social circle and my comfort zone. Conclusions of the day: 1) I love driving through new countries. 2) I do not like being cold without fireplace. 3) I miss Chad. 4) As much as they drive me bonkers, I miss my kiddos. 5) I love living overseas. 6) I seriously need to buckle down and get back into shape. 7) I love traveling and not counting every penny...aka traveling with a real paycheck and not college job cash. 8) Different cultures fascinate me. 9) I am much more mellow than I was at this time last year. 10) I am genuinely happy...and I needed to get outside of the Doha bubble to gain perspective and contentment with my happiness.
I know I say this often, but being in Romania reinforces my belief that I can live anywhere in the world and be happy. I really think that happiness is a state of mind. I am happy living in Doha for now...but I will be happy living just about anywhere else in the world next. I don't think I am ready to come back to the States yet...but I am enjoying thinking of places for my next adventure. The world is just a big playground filled with playmates
Wednesday April 11
9:48pm. Well, I have not been the best at updates this trip! Yesterday, we walked all over Sibiu. It is a beautiful little town. We walked through all of Old Town Sibiu. Very relaxing da. Today, we drove out to Hunedoara- to see their castle. The drive was about 2 hours and beautiful. The weather got up into the 60s today and nary a cloud in the sky. It was absolutely perfect. We spent an hour exploring Kaufland- a local grocery store- and picked up picnic items. We had salami sandwiches in the car (because of bees and dogs) outside of the castle before exploring. The castle was huge and gorgeous. We had fun exploring it! We wandered through the town of Cut and Deva before heading back to Sibiu. We had a lovely dinner and I used the cafe's wifi to upload my first round of pictures. I am finding that I am very tired lately...but it was a splendid day. I just love traveling with Charles. He is a hoot and a half <3 I can't believe how quickly the time has flown. We are off to Bucharest tomorrow and flying out on Friday! Back to reality. I land at 11pm and then I am supposed to golf at like 7:30am the next morning...sigh. I hope I can get rested enough for the week! Romania has definitely helped me relax and gain perspective. It has been a beautiful week. I am excited to see Bucharest!
Thursday April 12
Well today was an adventure. We had breakfast at Pension ELa in Sibiu...where we said goodbye to our wonderful host ELa. We drove through the gorgeous countryside for about 3 hours to Bucharest. That is where the fun began. It took us three hours to get to our hotel in Bucharest. Turns out it is a much bigger city than we anticipated and our little map and traffic in Bucharest is absolutely horrendous. We finnnnaallllyyy made it to our hotel...exhausted and famished. We checked in and headed out for lunch/dinner. Bucharest is interesting but we didn't feel as safe or at home as we did in the more rural towns. I definitely prefer Brasov and Sibiu to Bucharest...but I am glad to be here regardless. I am off to the airport tomorrow and back to the land of the sand. Back to life...back to reality... It has been all in all the perfect holiday. I would definitely come back to Romania. <3