Romania is situated in South Eastern part of Central Europe; bordered by Hungary, Serbia, Bulgaria, the Black Sea, Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova with terrains consist of mountains, hills and plains. The country has a climate with four distinct seasons.
Staying for few days in a vibrant City of Cluj-Napoca where universities are built, then moving to a laid back place, Maramures, where old traditions are kept and still practiced; reaching hilly Sinaia gives another breathe of experience with another atmosphere.
Day 6- From Northern Romania to East-Central Romania (13-hour train ride from Baia Mare to Sinaia)
If you have watched the Korean movie “Train to Busan” and now, in the land of Dracula, you have to ride a train for 12 hours. Chances are, the movie will haunt you in a funny way. Never will it become true for sure. But, for me, it was weird. I was at the train station by 0450H as my train will leave at 0530H.
Nobody, not even one person was at the station. It was only me. I followed a dark passage hoping that there are passengers there but I haven’t seen any. What I saw is a black bird that flew away in my presence. I ran outside and the taxi driver was still there. I told him nobody’s there. He said maybe because it is still early. I waited for few minutes until some passengers arrived.
When I went back inside after 10 minutes, the ticket booths and stores are already open and people more than 10 are already there. Where did they come from?
Communication was a little bit difficult until I met one lady who can speak English very well. I went with her as we will take the same train. The moment we took the exit door to wait for the train, all the lights went off. You can imagine now what a paranoid solo traveler felt at that time. The lights came maybe after 5 minutes.
The train came. You might be thinking why I have to take a train from end to end. It is because I have to catch an event in Sinaia, and believe me, it worth it.
The 12- hour ride became 13 hours as there were some delays. But in that given time, I’ve seen how Romanians deal with each other. People come and go, they don’t know each other but when they talk it seems they’d have known each other for a long time. They talk about politics, about food and anything under the sun. They cared for me, they look after me, they gave me food and they communicate with me in spite of language barrier. Aside from the polite Romanian words that I knew, I’ve learned “frig,” “munti,” before I went down at Sinaia Station.
Day 7- Unleashing the Autumn Colors in Baiului Mountain
How can you benefit most in a situation when you’re the only Filipino among a group of Romanian hikers?
(For a full story hiking to the Baiului Mountain,click here)
-Reach out for people.
Avoid treating yourself as a guest. You share the same passion.
You may differ with nationality, culture, language, religion and many other factors. But the very first reason you are there is passion. At a given situation, you’ll all feel the same. If you feel cold with the freezing temperature, and so they are. If you are surprised to a mind blowing panorama that awaits you at the mountain, they also feel the same.
-Respect and follow the rules and instructions.
You are in a foreign land and yet you are with the locals. They know the place and what is better; obedience is a key for a greater experience.
Follow the trail the guide is taking. The following instructions were really meant for me:
Follow one line.
Stay on this area.
-Try all the foods and drinks served.
In the mountains, mostly the foods served are natural and organic. Tasting (not drinking much) the drinks such as palinka, softdrinks, carbonated water, mulled wine won’t knock you down. Not unless you have a weak stomach.
-Be responsible and enjoy.
Take the hike slowly. Watch your footsteps. Capture stunning photos. Appreciate the surroundings. Respect the mountain. Share stories. And remember that it doesn’t hurt so much to fall sometimes as long as you have the courage to get up and say, I’m fine.
-Love thy dirty shoes
At the end of the day, what matters most are the memories worthy to be cherished for a lifetime.
And it seems that I’ll gonna find my way back to Romania one day.
Day 8- Sinaia Monastery and Peles Castle
As advised by the hikers to pass by Sinaia Casino and Sinaia Monastery before heading to Peles Castle, I did follow a path from the back. It was a long walk to a hill to pass through Sinaia Center and park in a freezing weather. And remember that long hike yesterday? Somebody must have to endure a sore and achy body in every step.
Sinaia Monastery is named after Mt. Sinai after Prince Mihail Cantacuzino returned from his pilgrimage in Mt. Sinai, Egypt. And the place itself is then called Sinaia. But in the mountain of Bucegi lies a mysterious stone formation that is almost the same of Sphinx in Egypt. A mystery that even science still didn’t able to find out. Is it really a stone formation, or built by anybody else or an alien-thing? Nobody knows but Romanians believe in a magical healing to be in that mountain. One reason that you or me should explore the mountains of Romania.
From a cobbled pathway filled with scattered fallen leaves from the trees, a glimpse of a mystical castle set on a Carpathian hill bestowed its grandeurs even from afar. Peles Castle is love.
Fine rain came spreading but it isn’t a reason to go back home. It was a good escape on my own to see a place where a King once lived.
Peles Castle was initiated and founded by King Carol 1 in 1873 with Neo-Renaissance Architectural design. King Carol is also the one who declared Romania as an independent and a sovereign nation in May 1877.
It is quite difficult to absorb all the beauty and grandeur including the details and history of Peles Castle. But at least few things will stick to your mind. Mine was the wooden spiral staircase, the Venetian mirror, the libraries, the formal dining room which is a different room from the breakfast room, the room which carpet design is the same with the ceiling and the swords. Oh, if you love swords, you might not want to leave the weapon room.
You can see also massive collections of paintings, sculptures, carpets, armors and furniture.
The tour is very detailed that in every direction you are going to or on every door you are entering, you’ll see different architectural designs such as Turkish, Venetian, Moorish, Baroque and many more that I can’t identify now.
Peles Castle is the first palace powered by electricity produced locally. And since it was opened in 1883, it has already central heating for winter days and a retractable glass roof that can be opened during summer time.
Just a note, Peles Castle is close on Mondays and Tuesdays. They offer tours in English and in other language along with entrance fee and extra fee for taking photos or videos. It is mandatory to use shoe cover when going inside (they provide it and it’s free.) Don’t lose the tickets stating you are allowed to take photo or video. Camera settings should be without flash.