Home, sweet home: Brasov

Our private chauffeur from M&M Express arrived promptly at 9 a.m. and we were ready to go HOME, to beautiful Brasov, Romania.

Welcome to Brasov!

Our driver was very nice and we enjoyed having the cushy car to ourselves. We’ve decided to splurge for a private ride with pick up from Bucharest city instead of catching a ride to the airport and getting the shared shuttle we usually book. Luckily, on a Sunday morning, the traffic was sparse, and we made very good time to Brasov.

Mom and dad were ready to welcome us with hugs, kisses, and, of course, wonderful home made food. As if it needed it, we stoked our appetite with my dad’s home made sour cherry liqueur before digging into my mom’s appetizers: mushrooms in mayo, grilled eggplant spread, deviled eggs, and REAL hearty country bread! After lunch, we took our luggage upstairs to our neighbor’s apartment where we stayed for the week. He usually goes between Romania and Germany, and he graciously allows us to crush at his place when he’s not home.

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Next, it was time to head downtown, to the medieval part of the city – my favorite – and catch up with our friends, Ben and Linda. Their AirBnB place was very conveniently located a block from the main square Piata Sfatului. We took a leisurely walk around downtown, hitting a few highlights like the Olimpia sports center on Tampa mountain (a small mountain in the heart of the city), where Ion Tiriac, a former top 10 tennis player learned how to play.

 

We walked down the hill past Schei Gate (built in 1827) and Ecaterina’s Gate, through the quiet park shaded by old chestnut trees.

 

We crossed the street and walked behind the stone wall still standing from the thirteen-fifteen century fortress built for the city’s defense. The fortress featured several watch towers, like the Black Tower, owing its name to a bolt of lightning, and the White Tower, a fifteen century structure painted white and featuring a great overview of the city from its wooden deck. Walking down steep stone steps, we reached the medieval bastion Graft, arching over the creek with the same name.

 

We followed the path along the water and admired the artful decorations added to utility structures along the way. The wall ended by Brasov’s sixteenth century public library building, at the bottom of the windy road leading up to Poiana Brasov, which turns into a winter wonderland (see my earlier post), attracting waves of skiing enthusiasts. We gave a nod to Brasov Citadel, a sixteen century fortification with a tumultuous past and an unsure future.

 

We headed up November 15th Street, cut across via Michael Weiss to Republicii Street (the best street to shop, walk, or chill at one of the many terraces lining this pedestrians only cobblestone street).

 

When we reached Piata Sfatului again, our hunger caught up with us and led us through Piata Enescu tunnel to one of my go-to places for a cozy meal, Bistro de l’Arte. Seated comfortably in the cave-like restaurant, between the four of us we savored cheese bruschetta, pasta, and a Bistro burger. For the sweet tooth, we shared an a different take on the traditional Papanasi (dough with cheese, lemon rind, cinnamon, and jam). We toasted to our friends’ first day in Brasov with a bottle of Minis Cadarca (a type of grape cultivated in the west of Romania since the 1700s).

 

Tampa Mountain – a view from above

We wanted to offer Ben and Linda a different perspective of my city. One place offering a great panoramic view of Brasov is Tampa mountain. The mountain sits in the middle of the city and can be accessed by foot from the city center. The base of the mountain, just behind the fortress walls, is a great place to walk or relax on a bench and enjoy a great view. You might even see one of the many species of butterflies fluttering through the woods, as a large part of Tampa is a natural reserve.

 

We chose to pass on the 45 minute (or more?) hike to the top and can caught a 2-minute gondola ride instead (for about $4.50 for a two-way ticket). From the gondola stop up top, there was a short walk to the Hollywood-style Brasov sign. Just past it, a terrace offered the best views of the city.

 

Dinner with Mom and Dad

This is definitely a great attraction whenever I visit Brasov :-). And although it is not a stop open to all visitors, our friends Ben and Linda were invited to share a traditional Romanian meal with the family.

Appetizers:

  • Dad’s sour cherry liqueur
  • Mushrooms with home made mayo
  • Grilled eggplant spread
  • Deviled eggs
  • Bread

Main course:

  • Sarmale = Stuffed cabbage rolls, with polenta or bread; you can enjoy a semi-hot pickled pepper on the side
  • Mamaliga cu branza = Polenta with butter, sour cream, sheep cheese, and cow cheese; mix all of those fat-free (NOT) ingredients into the steaming hot polenta until they melt into an amazingly satisfying meal… sigh
  • Romanian red wine – Feteasca Neagra

Dessert:

  • Home made sour cherry cake
  • Coffee (strong)

 

 

I leave you to feast your eyes for now… Check out more photos on my Facebook page. Then, come back and take a walk with me downtown Brasov and past the gate to the old village of Schei.