After a wonderful ‘pick me up’ in the form of a Slovakian weekend, I was feeling recharged and ready to do a little exploring in a new country.
It took two trains and an encounter with the most disgusting toilet on planet Earth, but after not too long I had arrived in Romania!
If you are planning to visit Romania in the future, if you heed one piece of advice, let it be this – the taxi drivers will try to rip you off.
The footpaths were very icy and slippery, so I wasn’t game to walk all the way to my hostel with my big backpack. I was already injured and cursed with the coordination of a newborn wildebeest, so I figured that there was no need to tempt fate further!
I was told that a taxi ride from the railway station to my hostel should cost around 15 lei, so when taxi drivers outside the train station tried to charge me 60 lei, I knew right off the bat that they were trying to rip me off. I refused the amount and kept requesting a metered cab, but they were all very resistant. In the end, I told them that they could miss out on the fare then and that I would catch a bus instead. I walked over to the bus stop, and within about a minute, one cab driver followed me and we agreed on 15 lei. If you feel like you are being overcharged – do not budge! A way to get the absolute cheapest fares is to book a cab online or via phone call like Uber, the details of these trips are stored in an electronic database, so those drivers tend to use (and stick to) their meters.
After I had safely arrived at my hostel and checked in, I was already getting positive vibes from Brasov. I stayed at the Kismet Dao Hostel, and had a wonderful time there. They have a gorgeous dog living in the hostel and anyone who takes her for a walk gets a free beer! Not a bad deal right there! The staff are wonderful, the beds comfy and the common areas are perfect for meeting new people.
After being given a solid rundown of the layout of Brasov, it was time for me to get out, brave the icy streets and get exploring. I only had one close call with slippage – which I thought was not too bad considering the circumstances!
I decided against a visit to the super touristy Bran Castle (famous for being the home of Dracula – even though there is no evidence Bram Stoker knew anything about this castle) and instead chose to spend my time in Brasov just exploring the city streets.
My first stop was the main square, which is super pretty in and of itself, but really, the main attraction is that the famous Black Church lies adjacent to said square.
Despite the Black Church not being as black as I expected it to be (calling it the Brown Church would have been more apt), it is still an incredibly beautiful church and a wonderful example of Gothic architecture.
After admiring the Black Church, I decided to head uphill to try and get some good views of the city. In the process, I passed Catherines Gate – a structure dating back to the mid 1500’s. It is famous for being the only original city gate to have survived to the modern day.
After passing this gate, I continued onwards and upwards, hiking my butt up a big ass hill! It was well worth the exertion though, the views of the city from above were nothing short of magical – even when under the cover of heavy fog.
Some other points of interest in Brasov include Rope Street (the narrowest street in Europe) and the few towers that line the city walls.
Brasov is definitely not the biggest city you’ll ever visit, but it is a beautiful one, and one that you’ll remember long after you leave.
Getting to Brasov: Brasov is well connected to both Vienna and Budapest by railway
Kismet Dao Hostel: A fantastic hostel with the cutest doggo ever, a dorm bunk starts at around $14/night AUD
Black Church: An amazing example of gothic architecture, entrance costs 9 lei (around $3 AUD)
Camera: Images captured with an Olympus OM-D E-M1 in conjunction with M.Zuiko 12-40mm f2/8 lens
Remember: Icy streets are a real hazard in the winter, watch your step!