I ended up in Romania partially because it sounded interesting, partially because it was geographically convenient, and partially because I could use my hotel points to save some money. Perhaps not the best of reasons to visit somewhere, but not bad. I started in Bucharest, the capital city. This is definitely the place I saw the most Communist influence in the architecture; it had that “1970’s Cold War spy movie” feel. I’m glad I stopped there for a day, but I’m also glad I didn’t stay longer. Just didn’t seem like much to do. I wandered around a bit, saw a nice park, gaped at the massive Palace (couldn’t go on a tour due to time constraints), and checked out the Old Town (it’s fairly compact). So a fine place for a brief visit, not much more.
I took a train out of Bucharest through the countryside, which was very pretty. I like train rides, and I wish they were more common and affordable in the US. My next stop was Sibiu, which is a very pretty and interesting smaller town. It was the European Culture Capital in 2007, and there are many interesting buildings, squares, and the like. A really good city for wandering. It did rain a bit, so I relaxed some at my hotel and took it easy.
My last stop in Romania was Cluj-Napoca, which is the capital of the Transylvanian region (yes, there is Dracula stuff everywhere). I took a bus there from Sibiu, which was also a nice ride – I think if I ever come back to Romania, it will be for the countryside and not the cities. Cluj was a good city as well, some great squares for sitting and people watching, pretty good food options, and some nice old churches to see. I’ve found it interesting on this trip how different some of the churches and temples and mosques can feel, even in the same city. Some of them, you walk in and the building might as well be a museum. Others, you walk in and there’s an immediate heavy silence that lets you know without a doubt, this is a house of worship. I like the latter better, even if it sometimes makes me feel awkward about taking pictures. Anyway, Cluj was a good place and I think my favorite of the three cities. But now off to Western Europe and a week with family!
Considering I spent eight days in Romania, I feel like this post should be longer, but to be honest I don’t know what else to say. I think to some extent this is where I hit my ‘travel wall'; I was excited about seeing family soon and therefore had a hard time enjoying the moment, and Romania also wasn’t a place I had been thinking about seeing for a long time and so it was less exciting. Plus, I was just plain tired and needed a few low-activity days.