Travelling to Romania involved catching a bus to Pedrocicae, an over-night train to Belgrade and another over-night train the following night to Bucharest then finally a connection to Brasov. The total travelling time was 45 hours. We needed to wait for around about 7 hours in Belgrade; but that just included sitting in a Park and once again eating lunch at '?'. It wasn't too bad.
I have already complained about this, but the transport system over here really is a joke. It's slow, unreliable and uncomfortable. Although my Eurail pass is not valid in some of these countries the conductors seem to have never seen one before and accept it anyway. Win!
The train from P to Belgrade was really hot, and the train was as rough as guts, loud too. We managed to reserve 2 beds which made it a little more bearable, but it once again was not a pleasant experience. The following night train was a lot more comfortable, even though the bunk beds were stacked three high and I was on the top. Getting up and down was quite the struggle. We had taking supplies to munch on during the night; Ham, cheese and tomato rolls and some cookies. These have been a major part of my diet over here. I also managed to get a good night sleep.
Finally arriving in Brasov was a relief, travelling was starting to get to me. We walked to the center of town to find the tourist info office only to find that the accommodation we'd booked was a 10 minute walk back in the direction we'd come from. This normally wouldn't worry me, but after the few days we'd had, I just needed to relax. We had decided to once again book ourselves private accommodation as we'd both become quite fond of not having to sleep in dorm rooms. The Guesthouse we booked was amazing! We had been given an apartment with two floors, private bathroom and a lounge room. We were also greeted with a free buffet-style breakfast every morning. It was pretty luxurious considering the types of placed I normally book.
Brasov was a beautiful town. I didn't really know what to expect and was pleasantly surprised. I had a huge medieval square, streets lined with cafes, bars and restaurants. One side of the town is over-looked by mountains and a National Park. They have even gone to the trouble of putting a Hollywood-style 'BRASOV' signs on the mountainside above the town. Lame. And once the thunderstorms rolled in, it was everything I'd hoped to get from Transylvania.
Over-indulgence was the main theme of Brasov, cakes, coffee, pancakes, and red wine and great restaurants. I managed to find a meal that was a steak, a pork fillet and a chicken breast piled up with slices of goats cheese in between. I had to order it. It was decided we needed to work off some of this food we'd been eating and took the cable-car to the top of the mountain and walk through the park and back into Brasov. We were hoping to see a bear, it didn't happen.
We had decided to base ourselves in Brasov and do quick day trips to some of the surrounding towns. We managed to do this, but they were not quick trips. For example we needed to travel 49 kilometers to Siana. It took 2 .5 hours by train each way. Lucky the castle we had travelled there to see was brilliant. We were belted by one of the craziest thunderstorms and some of the heaviest rain I have ever seen in Sinaia, and we looked like idiots running through the town wearing garbage bags (we had not come prepared for these conditions because it was a perfect day in Brasov; not a cloud in the sky. And apparently it remained that way) But it was a great day.
Another day we decided to head out to Zarnesti; a small town with a giant National Park containing some amazing gorges. It was like travelling through time; the horse and cart was still a very popular made of transportation. Signposts are obviously a futuristic idea this town seems unable to comprehend. We had great difficulty even finding the park and once we did, ended up going in through the wrong side. This turned out okay because it led us almost directly to what we had come to see. The gorges were pretty amazing and a hotspot for rock climbers; which was fun to watch. We ended up following a walking train that led us up an old, dry riverbed. It was at time really tough to climb, dangerous too, especially once it started to rain. The river started to flow once again while we were climbing it and on our escape from the path we ran through some poison ivy type plant. It was pretty painful, but some cold water from the river helped sooth it a little.
Elissa and I had thought it would be fun to go and hang out in Budapest for a few days before we went our separate ways and this involved getting another overnight train from Sighisoara. So we went there for another day trip. It turned out that there was a large medieval festival being held in the town over the weekend. On another delayed and slow train we two Romanian guys who were also heading to Sighisoara to check out the festival. We sat with them on the train and go to know them. They were without a doubt two of the strangest people I have ever met. But very entertaining, one had been working in a call centre that dealt with Americans and had some of the funniest stories to tell. It rained quite heavily at the festival which was a bit disappointing as there looked to be some cool stuff to see and we spent much of our time taking shelter from the downpour. We did get to check out some music eat some Romanian foods and have a beer or two. So it was not a complete waste of a day.