traveled by private train from Constanta to Bucharest, a 4 hour
ride. Then it was a 3 hour bus ride to Sinaia, our home for the
next three days. Sinaia
is called the "Pearl of the Carpathians". It is a resort
town in the mountains at about 4000 ft. offering spectacular scenery
and a fascinating history. Sinaia was built by King Carol I in the
1800s and its early grandeur is still evident in the old houses
that line its streets. While once belonging to courtly families
seeking the king's favor, the houses are now rented out to tourists
coming to hike, ski or breathe in the fresh mountain air. We were
fortunate to be in Sinaia in the fall at the peak of the fall colors
and to have some of the best weather on our whole trip.
first night in town we took a taxi to a nice Italian Restaurant
up on the hillside. We were going to walk but our guide told us
that would be very dangerous due to the large population of black
bears that roam the streets at night!
next day we took an hour bus ride to visit Bran Castle in Transylvania.
Vlad Dracula ruled in the 15th century and became known as Vlad
the Impaler for his practice of impaling enemies of the kingdom.
He is said to have been exiled at the castle for several years.
Thus it is nicknamed Dracula's Castle. It was originally built as
a fortress in 1377. In 1920, it was gifted to Queen Maria of Romania
and it soon became her favorite residence. She renovated it for
use as a summer home, painting the walls and adding carpet, art
pieces and antique furnishings. The castle is four stories tall
and is a maze of rooms and narrow spiral staircases. It is currently
for sale for $140M. Outside the castle, vendors have set up a flea
market, selling souvenirs and local handicrafts.
had lunch at a local restaurant and were given a demonstration of
local handicrafts. We enjoyed the ride back to Sinaia, through beautiful
forests and mountain scenery and past a gypsy village.
next day we visited Pele Castle which was the summer home of King
Carl I. Set dramatically in the hills above Sinaia, this 160 room
palace was built in Neo Renaissance style in 1914. This was probably
the most beautiful of all the castles we visited on the trip, with
its intricate wood carvings, beautiful furniture and paintings.
Unfortunately we did not sign up to be able to take photos inside
($30 for a camera pass) so the interior shots are scans of postcards.
touring the castle we visited the town of Brasov, the third largest
city in Romania and full of buildings from the middle ages. We walked
around the large pedestrian square and shopping street and visited
the Black Church, so called because it was blackened during a fire
in 1689. Originally built in 1477 as Roman Catholic, it is now a
Lutheran church. The Old City Hall was initially built as a watchtower
but turned into the city hall when it was renovated in 1420. It
is now a museum.
the evening we opted for a visit to the Azuga Wine Cellars for a
tour and dinner. They make Champaign the French way at the winery.
I particularly enjoyed their white wine and their dessert wine which
I bought a bottle of to bring home.
To see additional photos from our visit to Sinaia, Bran Castle,
Pele Castle and Brasov, go to the Sinaia
Locations Visited Photos Map