East Balkans by Motorcycle: Bucharest to Brasov

November 9, 2016 1267 33 No Comments

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Road trip Peles castle - Brasov

It’s day four of my road trip and I have traveled 1,272km so far. I have explored Sofia and Bucharest and am heading north to Brasov where I will spend the night. The route is 171 km and I’ll need about 3 hours to get there according to Google Maps.

From Campina onward the first mountains appear, which is nice, as I have rode more than 1,350km and I can’t say that I have enjoyed it particularly. I am 64km away from Brasov and I haven’t run into any traffic, that is until I reach Comarnic. Here the road passes through the town, has one lane in each direction and was congested at certain points. After Comarnic the road continues with one lane in each direction and without any traffic. Generally you have to pay attention to your speed and when overtaking, as there are speed radars and roadblocks, and Romanian police are very strict and aren’t particularly forgiving.

In some uphill sections there’s a second lane so you can overtake if necessary. A few km later I ran into a lot of traffic, so I proceed slowly behind many cars and trucks, which eventually made me feel tired, so I made a stop to relax a little bit. I continue north and arrive in Sinaia. The scenery here didn’t really impress me, as all I see are huge hotels that don’t really blend with the landscape. However, Sinaia is a famous tourist resort because of Peles castle. As I get closer to it I soon realize how different this part of Romania is from what I have seen so far. Taking advantage of the popularity of the Carpathians as a touristic destination, there is a charge for everything. Even parking motorcycles!

From the parking area you need to walk a few steps to get to the palace. Here you will see many people from different parts of the globe. The landscape is very beautiful and worth walking in the bazaar located just below the palace. The Peles is a mixture of German, French and Italian architectural styles and is really impressive! It consists of 160 rooms and a central tower at a height of 66 meters. Up until 1974 it was used as a summer residence for the royalty, but then continued to operate as a museum. I’ve heard that the interior is impressive too. And although I regretted it later, I didn’t get to see for myself because I was asked to pay for two tickets just because I wanted to take some shots with my camera. It is said that this was the first castle in Europe to have central heating and electricity.

The area around the castle is really nice and if you want to enjoy a coffee or a meal, there is a restaurant just below the castle. I sat here for about a half an hour and then headed off to Brasov. The route from here is one lane per direction and has a lot of traffic. Fortunately in a few parts the road is wider and conditions improve. Further down there was a huge back up because someone’s car had stalled which created an incredible amount of traffic. What luck! I passed through Predeal, which is another resort town with many budget hotels. I continue my route descending the other side of the mountain, as Brasov is located on the northern side of the southern Carpathian arc. You can tell when you’re about to reach the city when the road has two lanes per direction again.

Brasov

Entering the city I feel like I’m in another country. Although there are huge housing blocks too, there is a more European feel. I thought that this was a small town so I’m surprised by how much time I’ve been riding and still haven’t reached the city center. Although I have set my GPS to guide me to my hotel, located in the center, I don’t need it because there are signs everywhere. To be honest, in the beginning I was disappointed, because I expected to see a small picturesque city. However this completely changed when I turned off the main road and entered the old town. It was really beautiful!

Brasov is located in the Transylvania region and has a population of 253,000. The old city is a mixture of Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance architectural elements. The charm and the plethora of historical sights make it one of the most touristic destinations in Romania. Moreover, many films have been shot here due to the medieval atmosphere that emanates. The paved walkways and colorful buildings entice you to explore every corner of the city. I definitely suggest trying a hot dog at one of the many traditional hot dog stands.

One famous landmark is the Black church, which was built between 1385 and 1477 in the same place as an older church. The name comes when in 1689 a major fire destroyed the biggest part of the city and blackened its walls. Restorations lasted almost 100 years and only one of the two towers was repaired. Beneath the church is the Old Town Square. People are walking around, kids are playing and others relaxing on benches and small sidewalks. Many large pedestrian streets start here which are definitely worth taking a stroll on.

Even the city’s parks are beautiful and clean. In one of them the locals spend their time playing chess. I went to walk up the hill on the south side of Brasov, where from here you can enjoy a panoramic view of the city. And in the evening Brasov is very lively and worth going out for a walk or to have a drink. So far this city is the most enjoyable stop on my trip. The hotel that I stayed was the Residence Central Annapolis.

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