Monday, 10 June 2013

Bucharest and Brasov, Romania

This was our first visit in Eastern Europe. While we were being shuttled to our apartment from Bucharest Otopeni Airport, the driver told us that Romania gained independence only in 1989. Prior to that, it was a communist country. So there's still many buildings of the communist era in Romania. The building which we stayed in Bucharest was a typical example. There were even railings along the staircase. The feeling it gave us was kinda restrictive, we felt like staying in a jail. But of course, once we were inside the apartment, it was okay.

Views from our apartment.. Communist-style buildings around us..

After check-in, we went to the old town of Bucharest. There're many bars and clubs in the Old Town. Some offered shows like striptease pole dancing. We didn't go into those clubs. But there's one restaurant or bar which I would recommend tourists to go. If you are looking for great Romanian atmosphere, lovely interiors and architectures, and would like to try traditional Romania food, Caru Cu Bere is a must try! They have a ground floor, level 2 and a basement. If you are there early, try to get a table at the ground floor or at level 2. They have dance performance starting at 8 pm.

Bar of Caru Cu Bere at ground floor.

Entrance of Caru Cu Bere..

We went 2 times during our trip in Bucharest and we were assigned to a table at the basement for both times.. -.-'' But there's also entertainment in the basement by a music group playing Romanian music..

House specialty: Romanian Pork Shank served with pan fried sauerkraut, polenta, horseradish and chili pepper. The portion was huge. It could easily feed 3 persons. The meat was tender but the skin was tough, it was not crispy as we thought it would be. The horseradish tasted like wasabi. It complimented the pork shank by reducing the greasiness of the meat. 

Sausage with horseradish.. Again, the horseradish complimented the sausage. I think horseradish is good to eat with meat to reduce the greasy feel.

Salmon wrap with cheese..

After dinner, we walked around the area..

A big shopping center in Bucharest..

Guess what's this beautiful building? It's a courthouse..

Super duper big palace of the parliament. The whole parliament could not fit into our camera shot despite we already crossed the road to take a picture of it. We were told that this was the World's second largest parliament building.

The next day was a day trip to 2 castles, Peles Castle and the Bran castle (better known as the famous Dracula castle).

Peles was a beautiful castle. Nice exterior and very luxury and beautiful interior architecture. Really loved it. The interior decor of the castle had the luxury royal family feel to it, with glittering crystals chandelier and gold frames decor. The downside of the castle tour was we needed to pay in order to take photos in the castle and there were 'inspectors' walking around the castle to spy on people taking photos 'illegally'. We didn't really want to pay for photo-taking, so it's a pity that we didn't have photos of the interior to share.

The road into Peles Castle..

Next up, the Bran Castle. This was not the luxury castle like the Peles. It's more of a defend castle and with the Dracula story behind it, it gave me the mysterious and scary feel. The Dracula was linked to Bran castle because of Vlad the Impaler. He killed many people in many different ways in the castle and he would show that by hanging the bodies outside the castle. There's a small part in the castle that explained the history of Vlad the Impaler. Having read that, I found that he's actually not really that 'killer maniac' as portrayed.

Bran castle taken from outside..

Eerie staircase in the castle..

Views from Bran Castle.. Heavy rain on the day we went.

After Bran Castle, we visited a town in the Transylvania region called Brasov. It's a small town with some shops and cafe.

Brasov center..

One thing to note when visiting Romania was that they're not using Euros as their currency, they used Romanian Lei. So you gotta exchange the currency when you're in Romania. We found that the better exchange rates were offered by those located in the Old Town. We went to withdraw money from the ATM once we touched down at Romania and realized that we were stupid to use the ATM. We lost around 40 Euros due to exchange rate -.-

That pretty much sums up our trip in Romania. Again, it's just a weekend trip for us and we didn't have enough time to explore more places. If you have the time, I think it would be great to do a tour of the Parliament Palace.

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