Vested for the promised 28°C and then some I left Bucharest, ready to take on all the vampires Transylvania could throw at me. Obviously ready to play along with my vampire clichés, Braşov not only brought on the dark and forbidding forests but the cold and the rain, determined to give my toes a frost bite.
The difference between life in the capital and the countryside is staggering. Some twenty minutes after leaving Bucharest, I was greeted with the sight of lovely fields of sunflowers and wheat and the people who tilled the fields with horse-drawn ploughs. When the train crossed over to Transylvania some time later, like in a bad movie, rain started to fall and we entered a tunnel of dark forest. Between forests and fields, single cows chained to a bit of gras and lots of storks I encountered more of the strange mixture of rich and poor and the full range of houses, starting by ‘wow, I wanna live in that” right down to ‘omg, please tell me people don’t live in that’.
After a 3 1/2 hour train ride the train arrived in Braşov and I stuck my still warm toes into Transylvania for the first time.
Braşov at first glance is a bit underwhelming. Like in most towns, the area around the train station isn’t exactly glamorous and it didn’t seem to be much different from Bucharest. But when the bus dropped me off in the old town, I got more of a ‘beautiful little town’ vibe.
Ready to explore my bit of Transylvania, I followed the street that lead towards the Şcheii district. The architectural whimsy that surprised us in Bucharest seems to be a theme in Rumania (juding from what I saw out of my train window). Beautiful old buildings, some in dire need of renovation, some in prime condition, right next to modern ones.
Sightseeing in Braşov can be easily done in one day, one of the main attractions being the Biserica Neagră, the Black Church.
The cathedral got its name because of the fire set to it by the Habsburg forces in 1689 (back then, when we had an empire to expand and all that jazz). The ash colored the walls black et voilà, the name stuck.
As you can see, the cathedral is huge and certainly an impressive building (and it’s not easy to impress an Austrian with a church as we grow up with a gazillion of them).
There are also very pretty houses next to it, but I’ll spare you the depressing pictures I took in the rain.
From the church it is a short walk to the main square, which again, is huge.
You’ll find more pretty buildings there and the Strada Republicii, where all the restaurants and bars are and you can warm up your toes. I also discovered a souvenir shop and three stalls where one can buy postcards, paintings and magnets with Romanian motifs (quite a lot of them featuring Vlad and castles, complete with bats, thank you very much). I’m only mentioning this because we haven’t found a single place that sells postcards in Bucharest so far – maybe we haven’t found the tourist area yet? Nah.