Post update: All the pictures are here.
Google discontinued PICASA, so all the links were broken.

Before setting off for the big world we obviously took a few trips together to see how we handle each other’s devils. The first one took place last year to Hungary, but it turned out to be more fun than expected, so it’s not worth mentioning. This year we went to Romania to visit my parents, spend Easter and show Lucy some nice places on the way. As a coincidence we met a couple of friends for my birthday celebration.

So let’s start with the goodies, meaning a few pictures we took and thought they’re worth sharing. First of them from Hungary:
– the church of Esztergom from the city with the same name (picture taken from the Slovak side of the river)
– the Parliament building in Budapest

We also tried to cross the mountains on the famous Transfagarasan, but unfortunately for us, it was closed. The snow was still good for snowboarding, but our van had nothing close to that in mind.

Once in Bucharest we went around the city, visiting the most important points and architectural wonders, but I would let Lucy share her opinion on this one, as this is my home city which I am not very fond of. Of course I had a small gathering/party with my close friends.

Lucy:

My impression of Bucharest: It’s visible that the country is poorer than Czech Republic. There are many buildings with the old dark facades. Many houses neglected. Holes in paths and trash on streets. Sometimes it is obvious that not only they don’t have money to repair something but also that they don’t care (for example it is not that demanding to make a pile of tiles instead of leaving them all around). To get some money, people are willing to have huge billboards over the whole flat building, which doesn’t help the looks of the city.

On the other hand, there are new parts of the city where companies built modern buildings, so for sure there are people with money (and they have their new houses on edge of the city).

The traffic is crazy. I saw that when people turn in an intersection they make a “herd” in middle of the intersection without paying any attention to rules, but eventually everybody gets where they wanted to.

 

Overall Bucharest is a city worth visiting. Palace of Parliament and the surrounding buildings, which were built by Nicolae Ceaușescu (communist leader) are huge and impressive (waste of money?). But this part of the city seemed rather without life. The old city center is romantic, full of restaurants, and people. Churches and historical buildings are well maintained (churches are in very good condition). And what I liked the most? Green areas – there are several parks and the Romanians put the effort to make them nice with flower beds. It was middle of April and everywhere were colorful tulips and other flowers. Flowers were in front of historical buildings (if there was any green area) and even around some roads. You don’t see many flowers in my city – Brno.

On the way back we took a longer time to explore and visit. Starting with the famous royal palace “Peles” in Sinaia, continuing to Brasov for an afternoon and evening visit of the old city center and spending the night in the hills of Rasnov. The next day we checked in at the ruins of Rasnov fortress and the famous but not-so-nice Bran castle (aka Dracula’s castle). The afternoon found us on the way to Sighisoara visiting the fortified church of Viscri and Biertan. After a short walk around the medieval city of Sighisoara, we drove to Sibiu and found a quiet street to sleep.

Sibiu greeted us with a short shower in the morning while buying some veggies in the farmer’s market. The nicer weather came later, just in time to explore its pathways and enjoy a few “covrigi” – traditional Romanian pretzels. We continued our journey to Biertan and further on to Turda, where we visited the salt mine there – quite a nice game of lights. We camped somewhere outside Oradea on a nice green meadow by the river ‘Crisul repede’.

We didn’t spend much time in Oradea, especially on a Sunday morning when the good people are outside the city checking the junk fair. However, I got new sunglasses at a gas stop and bought some tasty Romanian cheese. About 2kg.

Lucy

My view of Romania: The countryside is very nice. There are “tubby” hills all around. On every second hill there is a herd of sheep and a shepherd with a dog. And if there are no hills then there are impressive mountains with snow on the top (we were there in middle of April).

There is always something to look at when driving through. There are some very poor villages with small, barely standing houses, but they also have normal, maintained houses – this depends on the area of the country. On the other hand, it’s unbelievable what extraordinary, huge houses with roofs full of metal decorations can rich gypsies build. The look of the country is ruined to notable extend by the trash which is all around – by the roads, on the fields, next to rivers – where there are more people, there is rubbish.

I liked that people in Romania still keep horses for work and transportation – in every second village we passed a horse with a cart on the road. From the historical places we visited, I loved the palace “Peles” – it’s is the nicest palace I’ve seen. Mainly because it is nicely decorated, the main hall has walls covered with engraved wood and it has central heating and electricity. But even though it has modern equipment, it was like in a fairy tale. This one is really worth visiting. The second one which I really liked was the fortified church of Viscri  – it was romantic and had very nice atmosphere. It was village’s church that was very modest (which I prefer to churches that impress only by showing of their wealth).