Had you asked me last Friday morning what I was going to do for the weekend, I would have never guessed I would be on a spur-of-the-moment road trip to Brasov and beyond in Romania to see tiny homes and some gorgeous locations.
On Friday afternoon, I was working on my itinerary for the rest of the year when Tudor, the director of Travel Massive in Bucharest and owner of Pura Vida Hostels, asked me if I wanted to do a road trip to Brasov for the weekend. Of course I said yes. He said “Great, we leave in an hour.”
Ten minutes later, my bag was packed and I was ready to go. We picked up his wife, mom and dog Zazou, and were on our way.
Traffic in Bucharest is rated fifth-worst in the world, and it took us over an hour to get out of the city. However, we still made it to Brasov before sunset, and I was dropped off at the Kismet Dao Hostel to spend the night. Kismet Duo was the first hostel in Brasov, and one of the best. Close to the old town, spacious, good facilities with a full kitchen, a game room, and clean bathrooms.
After dropping off my bag, I ventured into the town to look for dinner. Twilight was just ending, but I was still able to get a good shot of the Hollywood-esque sign on the hill proclaiming Brasov. From there, I made my way to Beraria Ciucas, a local restaurant the hostel receptionist had recommended as being cheap with large portions. The waitress hardly spoke any English, but I was able to get a recommended dish to try – meat with a side of polenta. Unfortunately, I have absolutely no idea what the meat was, but it certainly wasn’t muscle meat. It tasted like mutton, and was vaguely reminiscent of liver. I can’t say I was the biggest fan of the flavor or texture, but I could tell the quality was really good. I also got one of their mititei, meaning mini sausage. Ciucas is known for their mititei, and theirs is anything but mini. I could definitely see why they were voted as the best.
The next morning, Tudor picked me up early and we drove up to Lake Frumoasa. There, we met up with Tony, who has started one of the first Tiny Home companies in Romania – Eco Tiny Houses. We got to see their biggest model, built on a 24-foot trailer. Tudor even got to drive it along the side of the lake to test how it towed. He’s looking at getting them for his hostel in Vama Veche on the coast of Romania, and I want to get one for my travels. While a tiny home like that would go for $75,000 or more in the US, the cost is a mere $30,000 here in Romania. Still out of my budget, but something to aspire to.
That evening we all went to Miercurea Ciuc, where we ate dinner at Gambrinus. What an amazing little restaurant. This could hardly be counted as a tourist town, but then again practically the entirety of Romania would have to be classified as cute, quaint and charming. Gambrinus epitomizes this. Decorations are everywhere, the ladies are all dressed up in traditional costumes, and the food is simply delicious. I had the smoked sausages with a side of mint lemonade.
Since it was a weekend of Tiny Homes, we spent the night in one on the outskirts of Miercurea Ciuc. It was the same design as the one we had seen on wheels, but slightly larger. It was also established on the grid, with a full bathroom, washer machine and kitchen. I got to sleep in the loft, which is always my favorite. The next morning we had breakfast on the porch (Tudor’s mom cooked) and then head out to explore the town some more.
Miercurea Ciuc is really interesting. It’s a predominantly Hungarian town, as is much of that region of Romania. Even at the restaurant, all the dishes were written in Hungarian, and then translated into Romanian (no English for me). We explored Castle Miko, a seventeenth-century fortress containing a museum showing the culture and history of the region. My favorite part was the well, where they had discovered 4-century-old artifacts at the bottom when they renovated a few years ago.
From there, we stopped in another beautiful village. the resort town of Baile Tusnad. As gorgeous as everywhere else we had been was, this place topped them all. The reflection of the mountains on the lake, the trains going by, the little castle tower on the hill all combined to make a truly idyllic scene. While there we had a plate of Langos, a deep-fried open sandwich I’d originally tried in Hungary and found disgusting. This time it was delicious, which many of my Hungarian friends will find as a relief. While I’ve been told you either love it or hate it, I had some disappointed friends after my previous experience.
Finally, we stopped back in Brasov for another dinner, this time at Vino e Sapori where I had the pasta carbonara. It wasn’t the best, so perhaps I’ll stick to having Romanian dishes while I’m in Romania. At least the restaurant was right next to the central square in Brasov. I spent the time while the food was preparing to explore. The famous “black church” was closed for the night, so I just took some great shots of the outside. The old town square was simply magical (although a little crowded), and I stayed for the sunset.
From there, we drove back to Bucharest, arriving at nearly 1 am. Overall it was a fantastic weekend, and served to whet my appetite even more for seeing the rest of Romania. I have a tour coming up in August, and another in November. Read more about my travel itinerary for 2017. Are there any places you know of in Romania I must visit? Would you like to come join me in this amazing country?