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Maria and Gerry’s Travel Diary

Wednesday, 28 Jun 2006

Location: Brasov (Kronstadt), Romania

MapThis morning we headed north out of Bucharest and found the going slow which is unusual as the traffic going to town is usually heavy.Soon found out the reason:roadworks and very extensive too,making a four lane road.A private foreign company was awarded the contract to build a motorway from the Hungarian to the Bulgarian border avery expensive undertaking and at the moment they are busy aacquiring land.
Noticed huge malls being built on the outskirts of Bucharest with names such as French and German supermarket chains Carrefour and Aldi.
Welcome Romania to strip development.
We bypassed the city of Ploesti apetro-chemical centre and one of the first places in Europe to pump oil.The oil pumping and processing installations were destroyed by the Allies towards the end of WWII and it was one of the places Hitler was keen to get to..
Turned of the main road to head for Sinaia up in the hills.Now if the name seems familiar,it is.A local nobleman made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and also visited St Catharines Monastery in the Sinai Dessert.
He was so impressed that he built one on his return though the location is a lot greener than the original.Many of the people who visited the monastery liked the location so it became a summer retreat for the wealthy and when the king built a palice there it had really arrived.Under communism things had become neglected but now the nouveau riche are renovating and when the atrocious access road is repaired it will indeed be a most desiable place.
These days some 18 monks are in residence and though the icons in the church have become blackened with candle smoke it is still most pretty.
So on to the summer palace a bitof a downhill walk where we saw men turning hay with pitchforks reminding me of my childhood in the Netherlands over 55 years ago.There were a lot of visitors waiting to get into the palace and some arguments took place as to who had priority foreigners or locals.The locals lost.Before we could enter the palace we had to put on felt slippers to protect the beautifull polished wooden floors.For some reason this was done in semi darkness so the results were a liitle funny with odd colours ans sizes,in my case 4 sizes too small.
We were shown a number of rooms,secret stairs and passages and gallaries.Some 80 types of timber was used as well as gold ,copper,silver and crystal.Built in 1886 so relative recent it was outfitted with lifts,central heating,electricity and a centralised system of vacuum cleaning.There was an impressive armoury with the centre piece a medieval suit of armour for both horse and rider weighing no less than 180kg.
After our visit had a beer on a terrace with a nice view.It was once part of the palace guard barracks. We bought some local wooden hand crafted plates.
Back to the main road to resume our journey to Brosov once known as Kronstadt. We crossed the Transylvanian Mountains an off shoot of the Carpathians From the 1400,s till after WWII it and many other towns in Transylvania were inhabited by Germans invited there by the then king.In 1947 they were tranported by the commies to Siberia for alleged collaboration with the Nazis.Probably not true.
The town is beautifully located in a wooded valley.
For dinner that night we walked to the central market square to a wine cellar once a vaulted storage depot for Brasov merchants.
We were given a rundown on the Romanian wine producing areas and got to try some of the products.We tried a middling pinot noir and a slightly sweet white,probably chardonnay.These we drank to accompany some delicious starters.We were serenaded by musicians playing among others the panpipes for we all remember Georghe Zamfir and his 70,s hits
Now upstairs to a vaulted dining room where food,music,dancing and singing were provided. A thoroughly entertaining evening.