Sibiu

Sibiu, a city in Transylvannia, Romania, was named as a European Capital of Culture for 2007. Because of how picturesque it is, and how active the city is culturally, it has had a lot of positive press lately, and is a well-marked stop on the tourist trail in Romania. We figured it would be a stop well worth it.

We traveled between Timişoara and Sibiu by train. Incidentally, when I had done some research before we embarked on the trip, I had discovered a big coffee table book, called “The Travel Book: A Journey Through Every Country in the World”, by the makers of the Lonely Planet Travel Guides. It dedicated a two-page spread to every country in the world, and along with a few incredible photographs, presented a few thoughts on places to see, what to taste, and books or movies to get you in the mood for that country. Well, for Romania, in addition to watching Bram Stoker’s Dracula (which we watched, but decided that it really was a waste of the two hours we spent on it), they recommended watching Cold Mountain. Earl got it for us, and we watched it on the train between Timişoara and Sibiu. It was a long movie, and it started set in the US Civil War era. The scenery was incredible, but we were really confused and kept waiting to see where “Romania” would come into the story… it took us more than half of the movie to realize that there was no Romania in the plot, and that the connection with Romania was that the movie had been filmed in the Carpathians! The confusion on our part aside, it really was an excellent (though very sad) movie, and we would watch it again.



By the time we arrived in Sibiu, it was late morning. We hadn’t really booked a hostel yet, but sort of knew where a few were clustered. By this time we were using bits and pieces of our guidebook, in addition to notes we found online. We weren’t really letting the guidebook dictate all our stops anymore, since we had realized by then that the we had enjoyed lots of places and experiences that the guidebook didn’t mention or suggested were mediocre, and found other things the guidebook did mention, a little less-than-impressive. I remember feeling a little confused about where we were headed as we walked — this was compounded by the fact that it we were starving, and we were experiencing the late morning heat of a June heatwave. Eventually we made it to where we wanted to be, though somehow I’m sure the historic buildings would have looked a lot more interesting to us if we had not been so preoccupied with how hungry and sweaty and grumpy we felt!

We arrived in Sibiu the same weekend the Transylvannia Tattoo Expo was in town...  a rather unexpected festival for us, but what can you expect in the "Culture Capital of Europe"?

We arrived in Sibiu the same weekend the Transylvannia Tattoo Expo was in town… a rather unexpected festival for us, but what can you expect in the “Culture Capital of Europe”?



Looking back at Wikipedia now to remind myself of some of the historic details of Sibiu, I am so impressed by how beautiful a city it is, and how many of these parts we missed. Don’t get me wrong, as you will see between this post and the next, we did see quite a few beautiful places in and outside of the city, but I am just impressed by how many other beautiful sections of the city we missed! Perhaps it’s because I was in a rush to get out of the “typical” Romanian cities, and to the next place on my list, Curtea de Argeş, a more rural and less-visited destination.

We ended up settling ourselves up for the night at the Old Town Hostel Sibiu, which was in a 450 year old building!

Our hostel, the Old City Hostel

Our hostel, the Old City Hostel



The square, through the window of our hostel

The square, through the window of our hostel



Having washed our faces and dropped off our backpacks, we headed out to explore the city a little better, find some lunch, and head off to see an impressive open-air museum we’d read about (read out our next blog post to find out more).

As we wandered our way through the main walking streets, we investigated our options for food. We ended up sharing a few little things, and splurging on an ice cream each (yes, ice cream ended up being one of the “food groups” while we were travelling).

Some of the "funnest" ice creams we had on the entire trip!

We found some benches in the shade to enjoy our treat, and ended up watching the photo-spree surrounding a group of what must have been students in a traditional dance group, celebrating their year-end presentation. Although there were parents everywhere around these kids snapping photos, I wasn’t about to give up this opportunity to get a few shots of kids in traditional clothing myself!

Pausing for photos in traditional regional Romanian garb

Adjusting her blouse

Best friends

Moving on, we headed towards the bus stop, but were so impressed that some of the original wall surrounding the old city of Sibiu still survives, we paused to take a photo!

Old city wall around the medieval city of Sibiu

After a wonderful afternoon at the ASTRA Open-Air Museum, we took our time wandering back through the winding streets of Sibiu. We were impressed with the grand architecture, and had fun discussing what we felt were some more typical Romanian elements, like the roof-top windows on the buildings in the following photo.

Dusk in Sibiu

Strolling through the Grand Square on our way to find some dinner

Strolling through the Grand Square on our way to find some dinner



An incredible sunset in Sibiu

Dusk in Sibiu

Dusk in Sibiu

We had decided to catch the early bus to Curtea de Argeş so we needed to get to bed early too. We finished our relaxing evening walk through the quiet streets, and finally went back to the hostel after a busy day.

Early the next morning, after all our partying roommates had finally got to sleep (oh, did I forget to mention that we inadvertently chose to stay in the party hostel?) we crept out of our beds for a brisk walk down the hill towards the bus station, where we boarded our bus to Râmnicu Vâlcea (final destination Pitesti), where we’d transfer to the minivan (we hoped there was one!) to end up in Curtea de Argeş. If you have ever travelled in Romania, you’ll understand the trouble we had with some of those place names and communicating them effectively to the drivers. Who would have guessed that the “i” at the end of “Pitesti” is silent… sort of… ?!

Anyway, we did finally make it to our destination, which you’ll have to wait to read about, but one last photo before this post ends:

Some of the questionable traffic regulations in Romania: no smoking (thank goodness!) and no talking to the driver by passengers... but, on a cell phone communication seems to be okay.  Needless to say, speeding along the curvy mountain roads, passing horse-drawn carriage plodding along, we were not comforted!

Some of the questionable traffic regulations in Romania: no smoking (thank goodness!) and no talking to the driver by passengers… but, on a cell phone communication seems to be okay. Needless to say, speeding along the curvy mountain roads, passing horse-drawn carriage plodding along, we were not comforted!

1 comment to One Day in Sibiu

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