Sunday, March 17, 2013

A weekend getaway

Saturday and Sunday Free Time

We awoke in Brasov with directions to be ready around 8:30 for breakfast. There was still a touch of snow outdoors. At the left is our van with its dusting of overnight snow.

The breakfast buffet at the City Centre Hotel was a nice change of pace. Being able to refill the coffee cup was a great luxury. When done with breakfast, we checked out of the hotel and loaded everything into Dorel’s van and then drove part of the way to Black Church. We walked some of the same route we had done the previous evening, but this time we could really see the beautiful buildings of Brasov main square, shown at the right. But first we saw some interesting glass mosaic art along the street.

We arrived at the Black Church and paid our 6 lei for admission, deeply regretting the notice that said NO PHOTOGRAPHY. We were all amazed at the interior for it is decorated with certainly at least 100+ Turkish rugs, each about 3x5 feet. None of us had ever seen such a sight before. We walked about trying to take in all the information we could sort out and translate from German. (On Monday Dan explained to us that the rugs were provided by German traders who would travel to and from Anatolia, present day Turkey. They would donate a rug each time they returned in thanksgiving for a safe trip.)

We also saw a pillar that appeared to have gun shots – the work projectile is used in the Romanian and German signage – from December 1, 1989. Regretfully we forgot to ask about the history and meaning of this when discussing our weekend trip with Dan.  We surely enjoyed seeing such a unique church interior. We slowly made our way our way back to van enjoying again all the beautiful architecture that is in Brasov.

We headed to Bran. Once there we went to Club Vila Bran and checked in. Our rooms were not ready. Thus, we went to lunch with most of us again trying new foods found on the extensive menu. Then we walked to the Bran Castle and enjoyed the tour there very much. The views inside the castle are very interesting and at points in the tour one gets onto terraces and can get views of the surrounding countryside as well.

Following the tour we spent some time in the markets. Then we found our trusty driver, Dorel, and he took us back to Club Vila Bran. By now we could get the keys to our rooms. We walked up a long staircase from the parking area to a terrace, and from the terrace up more stairs to the entry to Vila 1, only to discover our rooms with numbers like 10, 11, and 12 were not on first floor as Europeans count, but actually on 2nd floor (3rd floor as Americans count) - up more stairs to very lovely rooms.

September and Lori rested for bit, while Corey and Laura went exploring. Corey tried a bit of horseback riding. Good thing, because they knew the layout of the resort and could get us to the restaurant for dinner at 7 p.m. when it was dark. This required about five minutes of walking up staircases, but when we got there, the restaurant was lovely, the food was great, and we surely satisfied achievement of one team goal – having fun.  We were most grateful that the trip back to Vila 1 was all downhill. 

We met Dorel at 9 a.m. on Sunday morning. We all thought we were going to breakfast with him. Something was lost in translation somewhere along the line!  We instead drove directly to Peles Castle. Dorel parked the van and led us the area where we could buy tickets. Immediately the word was WOW. Peles Castle, seen at the left, is truly magnificent. We really enjoyed the tour, despite the requirement to go up and down a lot of stairs and not lose a slipper.

After the tour we walked around the exterior of the castle taking photos. Then we stopped at the coffee bar for cappuccino or hot chocolate. We slowly made our way back to where the van was parked – the folks from Texas and Arizona being particularly chilled by the 27 degree weather, but yet marveling at the beauty of the snow fall. As soon as Dorel saw us cross the castle gate, he drove the van to meet us, waiting while two team members purchased penguins!

We had decided we didn’t want to do the cable car ride up a mountain. The combination of snow and clouds would make it impossible to really see anything special from the mountain tops. We stopped for lunch at a lovely café. Then we headed back to Bârlad, arriving at about 5:45.

We quickly dropped our luggage in our room and then Laura, September, and Lori headed off to the Gypsy King House. Returning, we made a stop at Lidl only to discover that it closed at 5:00 on Sunday. On the way back to the hotel we stopped by Penny Market, too, to check on sizes of diapers, finding nothing there was the right size. However, they were; Lori made a mistake in her conversion of kilograms to pounds, actually doing the math backwards!

Back at the hotel we gathered for supper at 6:30. We made a plan for covering the journals for the coming week. We are surprised that our time suddenly seems so short and soon we will be leaving Bârlad.

Entry submitted by: Lori