A year into the trip I’ll share some statistics about what we’ve been spending our money on. Brett, the nerd that he is, has kept track of every yen, somani, kroner, hryvnia and lei that we’ve spent. Not only that but he’s broken down our spending into various categories – accommodation, transport, food, sightseeing, visas, communication and misc. It seems like a lot of work but actually the data he’s put together is really interesting. When we were feeling a little low on cash it was good to know how long we could sustain our lifestyle given the reserves we had left. Besides, it’s just good to know where the money goes. I’ll give a quick summary of costs in this post - I know it’s not for everyone, but if you’re interested read on…
Archive for the ‘Romania’ Category
Seeing as I put the effort into selecting 20 photos to present at Pecha Kucha in Muenster I might as well share them with anyone reading my blog – I’m looking at you Nan! It wasn’t easy to select only 20 photos from the past 61 weeks of travel. A quick count says I’ve taken just over 11,000 since the start of 2010 alone, and I don’t want to admit how many I’ve taken in total over this trip. Let’s just assume it was many more than 20. So below are what I think are some of the best photos I’ve taken this trip, though some of them were chosen more for the story than the artistic side of things.
Seeing as we’ve been on the road for a year, I feel it’s time to write about some of the highlights. Some of these were written about when they happened, but some are little things that didn’t necessarily register as worthy of a mention at the time. In no particular order:
Our first stop after Brasov was Sighisoara. It’s another town founded by Germanic people, the Transylvanian Saxons, who were invited by the King of Hungary to protect the southern borders of what was then his land. They built their medieval citadel on a hill and it has been UNESCO listed for being “an outstanding example of a small fortified city” which has been inhabited since the 12th century. It was also where we celebrated New Years Eve 2009/2010. But before that happened we had a few days to explore the (inevitably) cobblestoned streets of the old town. It was beautiful.
The Clock Tower was once the main entry to the fortified city and home to the town council. It was built in 1280 with walls 2.35m thick and is now a history museum. Inside you can see the workings of the 1648 clock, a fantastic tangle of wheels, cogs, chains and spinning things all controlled by the steady tick tock of the pendulum swinging. Each day a different wooden figurine represents the day of the week and other figurines, carved from linden wood, represent characters from Greek and Roman mythology.
Nearby is a restaurant in the house where Vlad Tepes (inspiration for Count Dracula) was born, but we avoided it. Instead we opted for the delicious kurtos kalacs that were being sold in the main square. We first discovered kurtos kalacs in Brasov at the Christmas market next to the ice skating rink, and they’ve been a staple feature of any outdoor area that people wander around and might want to eat. Made from a thin ribbon of pastry wound around a thick wooden spit, they’re a hollow cylinder about 40cm long and 10cm wide which is slowly cooked over charcoal. The outside is crispy, covered with caramelised sugar and nuts, while the inside is still a little undercooked and mushy. Delicious!! Apparently they originate here in Transylvania but are now considered a Hungarian dish as this area was part of Hungary for hundreds of years. As you eat it the helix unwinds and we had an easy-to-eat street snack as we wandered.
We’ve been in Brasov for a week and it’s been fantastic. Just after I posted my last update we celebrated Christmas, or rather we celebrated Christmas Eve and spent Christmas day popping aspirin and avoiding getting out of bed. Before all that happened, on Christmas Eve day, we headed out to Bran. Home to the castle more popularly known as Dracula Castle, Bran looked like it would be hectic in the high season. Thankfully winter is the low season and we almost had the castle to ourselves as we explored its many nooks and crannies. Steep staircases led to higher floors where balconies overlooked the interior courtyard. If I were a vampire the balcony looking out over the valley would be my helipad of choice. Speaking of, the local character that Bram Stoker’s Dracula is based on spent minimal time in this castle. An exhibition in one of the rooms talked about Vlad Tepes, otherwise known as Vlad the Impaler, and tried to paint him in a good light. He was just misunderstood. Look up impalement… We had a beautiful day for the castle and after wandering around we headed up a nearby hill for some views across to and down on the castle. A perfect Christmas present.
Christmas Eve was spent at a cosy little restaurant in downtown Brasov where the white wine flowed freely, then back home where we added a bottle of chilli vodka to the hostel party that had started in our absence. As I mentioned, Christmas day was a bit of a non event so I’ll skip straight to Boxing Day (the 26th).
We spent the day exploring Brasov’s well preserved old town. First of all we visted the St. Nicholas Church, whose stone building dates from 1495 and replaced an earlier church from 1292. Next to it was a beautiful graveyard where we saw a headstone carved with a person’s name, date of birth and the first two digits of their date of death. Unfortunately, it seemed nobody expected them to live into the 21st century because the first two digits were “19”. In the streets of Brasov were some beautiful old houses with decorative flourishes and we wandered around for hours before heading up to the White Tower for a view over the city as the sun set. At 3:45pm.