The day of the departure from Brasov and our good friends came. We had to visit Sinaia, before reaching Bucharest. The route would not exceed the 200km. So we were relaxed with the morning awakening. However, I opened my eyes quite early and heard music from the ground floor. I realized that all our friends were gathered to say goodbye, so it would be better to get up and let them be on time to their jobs. They have done a lot for us, during our stay in town. Never left us alone not even for one minute! True hosts!
We went down and saw all of them. They immediately made us coffee and stayed to wait for the others. The truth is that we wanted to stay longer, but unfortunately we could not... We felt so comfortable, as if we were home!
We started to prepare our things. Our friends had prepared a rich breakfast. Around 12 o’clock we got the heavy decision to depart. Florin had a day-off and would accompany us until Predeal. When the time of separation came, we were all speechless ... The only words we said were wishes and promises that we will meet each other soon ... All of us felt that we "build" new homes in two different countries...
To get to Sinaia, there are 2 options, either through Predeal (by D1), or the mountain route through Rasnov & Apa Rece. Due to road works, but even more due to better and more beautiful route, we followed the second. A comfortable road passes through the National Park Bucegi climbing to 1.300m., offering spectacular views. But what deserves mention is that at the section between Rasnov - Apa Rece, you may have the chance to meet bears(!), looking for food!
After about 40km we reached the highway D1, about 20km before Sinai. We stopped at the nearby gas station to say goodbye to Florin, as he would take the opposite way to Brasov. The kind and good Florin said goodbye to us and everyone got his way.
I have visited Sinai many times before. The last time was in 2007. It has one of the most beautiful palaces in the country, Peles, and when I get the chance to visit I do not miss ever! This time, however, we were lucky. Going to the ticket counters (they are transposed in the palace) found out that they are given access to more parts of the palace for tourists. There are now three types of ticket (20-50-70RON) depending on what areas you want to visit. The photography and filming is possible by paying an additional fee (30 & 50RON).
I thought the best option was the second class ticket (50RON), as we did not have much time (duration approx 1 hour 30 minutes). The third category included also rooms for servants, without any particular interest. We chose the English speaking tour which everybody can understand, fully aware that it was brief. I preferred to be this way and I gave some additional information to the rest of us. The summer royal palace Peles, impressed me once again when I visit the rooms of the first floor which I had to visit since 1997. It was quite impressive and interesting.
For the history to I mention that: King Carol I of Romania visited the area for the first time around 1866 and was captivated by the stunning mountain scenery. In 1873 the foundations were laid for Peles. Original designs, from copying other castles in Western Europe, were rejected in their entirety, lacked of originality and very expensive. The German architect Johannes Schultz managed to approach King’s taste with his designs, combining European characteristics, Italian elegance, German style and Renaissance lines. He later made some additions. The cost is estimated at 120 million dollars. It features 170 rooms decorated with varied cultural topics from around the world. Noteworthy is the collection of weapons and armor that includes about 4.000 pieces, many of which are rare.
Once the tour ended, we all seemed clearly impressed. We took the road back to the hotel where we parked our bikes (5RON/moto). This time, I chose to approach the palace from the side that goes up the paved road which ends at the entrance to the exterior of buildings. Perhaps it was the best solution, because we had luggage that were exposed.
Before we take the road to Bucharest, we passed through the village of Sinai. Our aim was to find a traditional dessert, a promise I gave to Giorgos Z since our last visit in this country. It’s called «kurtos». Wrapped with strips of dough on a wooden cylinder. Pivoting on the grill, braise, and after golden brown, you add some chocolate. It really is very tasty, light and inexpensive (10RON). It was just what we needed at the time.
Driving D1, we headed to the capital. Except the delay due to road works, the route was pleasant. Around 8pm. we entered in Bucharest in which many things had changed, probably for the better. The road after the airport of Otopeni, has improved a lot, skipping some unnecessary crossings and traffic lights.
Entering the town, we passed the square Piata Presei (= Square Press), an imposing building, «Arcul de Triumf» (= Arc de Triomphe) Square Piata Victorei the famous street, central squares Universitatii & Uniirea to arrive at the accommodation Happy Hostel Bucharest (10€/person) we had booked from Greece. Basically we would have no problem, I just wanted a particular room with a bathroom available. Entering we met Eugen –an employee- which was greeted with hugs and smiles! I met him in 2007 and although they changed, both the building and the owner, Eugen remained employed.
We took a quick bath and left for the center to eat at Restaurant «Ca la mama», which is one of the best and relatively inexpensive solutions to learn about the Romanian cuisine. We ordered soups (ciorbe) and some grilled dishes. Everybody was impressed!
On the way to the hotel, we took a short stroll to central city streets. It's something I love to do ... My mind was lost in memories. I think that the bond between me and this country may be greater than I can imagine ...