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Phespirit goes to Romania
Poiana Braşov     July 2002

AROUND ROMANIA

Map of Romania

1 Poiana Braşov

As the summer temperatures soar, so many Romanians decamp from the cities and pitch up around the fields of Poiana Braşov for a weekend in the country.

A fortnight after Phespirit left, most of Hollywood was due to pitch up too for the filming of "Cold Mountain". An American wilderness set had already been built. The choice of location would appear to reflect a view that Romania today is a body-double for America as of a hundred and forty years ago .....

Insult or compliment?

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2 Braşov

How's this for value? A hefty slab of pizza plus half a litre of lemon Fanta - eating in - all for less than one pound sterling at 'La Pizza' in Strada Republicii. You can't grumble at that.

The old town of Braşov has good bus connections and a small but worthwhile selection of things to see and do.

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3 Rîşnov

Phespirit stopped in Rîşnov just long enough to take a glance at a Saxon church and the 14th century ruined castle which stands on an overlooking hill.

Rîşnov has grown too big to be considered a village, but it still has a simple rustic feel about the place, which is nice.

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4 Bran

Bran Castle is billed as "Dracula Castle" despite the tenuousness of the association: Vlad Ţepeş may have attacked this castle, and he may even have been held there as a prisoner .....

..... but the main thing is that it looks the part.

The townsfolk cash in.

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5 Moeciu

Moeciu is a village of two ends:

Moeciu de Jos - the lower - consists of farmhouses dotted around a potholed road with a river trickling alongside it in a gorge.

Moeciu de Sus - the upper - is the same with hotels, restaurants, brandy, cheese, soup, stewed meat, potatoes, and white wine by the pitcher.

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6 Sinaia

This Alpine town was once the summer seat of royalty during the brief Hohenzollern reign around the turn of the last century.

Peleş Castle was the epicentre. Phespirit tagged onto an English langauge guided tour with a party of indeterminate Scandinavians.

Apparently the Orient Express stopped here too.

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7 Bucharest

Things to see in Bucharest, besides the 'House of the People':

Phespirit strolled around the modest collection of the National Art Museum, wherein they have a Rembrandt, a van Eyke, and some Breughels, but they don't take Visa. It was interesting.

And Phespirit also gawped at:

  • the Romanian Atheneum (classical opera house);
  • the National Salvation Front Headquarters
    (of Ceauşescu balcony scene fame);
  • Cretulescu, Doamnei and Curtea Veche (churches);
  • Manuc's Inn (an old caravanserai);

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8 Sighişoara

This town has been present on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1999. UNESCO says:

       Founded by German craftsmen and merchants, known as the Saxons of Transylvania, the historic centre of Sighişoara has preserved in an exemplary way the features of a small, fortified, mediæval town, which played an important strategic and commercial role at the edges of central Europe for several centuries.

No mention of Dracula, despite this being where Vlad Ţepeş was born - the house is now a restaurant.

Bram Stoker was both a curse and boon to Sighişoara, hijacking history, masking fact with fantasy, but at the same time creating a whole new tourist industry. The townsfolk cash in.

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  1. Poiana Braşov
  2. Braşov
  3. Rîşnov
  4. Bran
  5. Moeciu
  6. Sinaia
  7. Bucharest
  8. Sighişoara
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Poiana Braşov Braşov Rîşnov Bran Moeciu Sinaia Bucharest Sighişoara