Gabrielle Bigatti, Italy (July 00) We stopped off in a village called Sighiosara, known for being the birthplace of Dracula, on our way to Brasov as we were told of an annual medieval festival taking place (mid July) which was not mentioned in the LP. It actually turned out to be the country's biggest gothic festival with thousands of black-clad teenagers converging on this quaint, normally quiet village, sleeping on the streets as there is so little accomodation and giving it a distinctly different atmosphere from usual - very lively and quite good fun but not what we expected - older travellers should be aware.
Carlos Griell, Spain (Nov 00) The ruins of the Rasnov castle, on the Brasov-Bran road, are worth seeing. Although in ruins, the castle is more impressive than Bran's due to its position amongst several mountains. If you're coming from Bran, get off the bus at the second stop in Rasnov and walk to your right (if you're facing Brasov) until you get to Piata Unirii. From there you must find the stairway, inside a courtyard. The uphill walk took us about 10 minutes.
Neil & Anna McLaughlin, Hong Kong (Aug 02) Cluj-Napoca: There are currently no signs at the bus terminus to the camping site. Asking around only got us more lost. So, you must walk back from the last bus stop (or second to last) to the first major intersection and bear right. This is a highway leading out of the city. Follow it past all the petrol stations and occasional prostitutes until you finally reach the sign to the campsite. From there, it's another kilometer or two. We never did find any shortcuts, although there is a longer route.
Tom McElderry, Czech Republic (Feb 01)
Caviar is rather inexpensive in Romania. If travellers, even with a tight budget, want to try it Romania is the place. It costs about five times less than in Western countries and you can find it in all supermarkets and fish shops.
Angie (May 00)
Peles Castle is sensational! As a tour manager, I have seen lots of castles, including Chrisianborg (Copenhagen), Linderhof and Neuschwanstein. The latter might win the top prize for location, but the interior of Peles is dazzling. They say that Mad King Ludwig bankrupted the state coffers of Bavaria with his castle-building extravaganza. This and the Pelisov Castle must have cost a fortune to build.
Strangely, the tourists who toured Peles castle skipped Pelisov Castle and we had a guide to ourselves. I liked everything here except the locally produced white furniture that looked as if it had been assembled from an MFI kit.
In Brasov, view the Black Church. Note four bullet holes from 23 December 1989 on a column on the north side, near the northern door and not far from the altar. There is a plaque with inscription in Romanian and German. No such plaque on Plate Revolutti, where bullet holes still pepper 2 buildings on the south side of the square.
In the Ethnographical Museum an attendant sets in motion a functioning loom to show material being woven. There's a section with Italian explanations about peasant life in the Alto Adige region of Northern Italy.
In Cluj, see the first act of Madam Butterfly for US$1.25 at the 80 year old National Theatre. Zalau is reached after a steep descent down hairpin bends. It seems a modern town of densely built high-rise
James Gibbons (Dec 99)
We didn't find Bucharest as dodgy or unsafe as we were led to believe. We were sensible and aware of scams, but never had any hassle to speak of.
The restoration of The Athenaeum was almost complete and we were given an impromptu guided tour. This ranks as our biggest "must see" in the capital - an amazing building inside. The Bran Castle "knitting circle" as described in one of the Postcards is still going on -it was a laugh - and the goods are cheaper than in the village.
Paul Riley (Jun 99) Don't miss the Maramures region. Everyone makes the trip to Cluj-Napoca, Sighisoara, Sibiu and Brasov - which is fine if you only have five or six days and want to feel like you are in southern Germany - but if you want to experience the Romanian country life, to live with a Romanian family and see what hospitality is all about, you couldn't ask for a better place than Oncesti or some of the other villages surrounding Sighetu Marmatiei in northwestern Romania.
It is a region of woodwork and farming in a rugged mountain setting. Especially noteworthy is the merry cemetery (a cemetery with a thousand or so carved wooden tombstones with cartoons of the deceased's life and death), the wooden churches throughout the area, the hand-carved wooden gates and the Sighetu open air museum (with a completely recreated medieval village).
If you are looking for more rural experience, definitely visit southern Bucovina. The painted churches are marvellous.