For the amount of traveling we have done, we have been very lucky (knock on wood) that we have had no problems. Our luggage always arrives, we have never had major delays, etc. Well leave it to one of our last trips to break our streak.
As I mentioned in my last post, Michael and I spent a week in Romania, visiting the capital Bucharest and traveling around Transylvania. Our problems started when we were at the airport and tried to take out money from the ATM. After trying every ATM in the airport we call the bank to find out that they no longer allow ATM usage in Romania or Ukraine. We have used our ATM card in Albania, Serbia, Georgia, and Armenia, but we can’t use it in an EU country. After being stuck at the airport for hours, we finally left with an emergency transfer of all the cash we would need for our trip, but had our credit card detained by a Romanian ATM in the process. However, we were on our way.
We were excited to visit Transylvania to see old Medieval towns and pretty castles. However, Romania tourism has a while to go before it is fully developed. The trains were not the cleanest; the hotel rooms, while large in size, had showers that flooded the whole bathroom and non vegetarian friendly breakfasts; the restaurant options were Romanian food (pork) or Italian – we ate a lot of pasta and pizza that week; and the trains don’t always run on time. One of our trains was going to be delayed for a few hours, so we ended up hiring a cab or we would have missed a full day of touring. Speaking of cabs, every one had a pungent odor of air freshener. It wasn’t even refreshing as the smell was often gross like bubble gum, and way too overpowering.
Overall, it was still a lovely trip! One of the highlights was the day we spent touring castles. We went to Pelisor Palace, which was completed in 1903 (very modern compared to most European castles) for the heir to the throne of the Romanian monarchy. It is in the same complex as the main Peles Palace, although the large one was closed for renovation. We also visited Bran Castle, which many people believe is Dracula’s Castle, although there is no evidence Bram Stoker even knew of the Castle’s existence. Vlad the Impaler, who in real life may have inspired the character, may have passed through but didn’t live in the castle. The castle was actually in use by the royal family until 1948 when they were expelled because the Communists took over. We were there in November and because it was made mostly of stone it was very cold. I wonder how they kept it warm, even with stoves and fireplaces. The Castle was very picturesque and did look like it was straight out of a movie.
The other days we spent wandering around cute towns and going to small museums and old churches. We surprisingly found one of the best outdoor architecture museums we have ever visited. Such museums are very popular throughout Europe where they display old homes and buildings from different time periods and regions. This museum was done particularly well (it had windmills and a village bowling alley) and it felt like a perfect fall day to be outside.
Our trip ended on American Thanksgiving and it was the first year that Michael and I actually spent it in the same city. There were no options for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner so we went to the next best thing – Benihana! It was a delicious dinner. See below for a slide show with pictures from our trip.
From Russia with Love,