I’m going to revive something I wrote back in the old Livejournal days whenever I traveled somewhere: my Travel Diary. I always enjoy looking at other people’s travel pictures, so why not show mine? We went to Sibiu, Romania at the beginning of October. I’ve been to Romania a couple of times already and love the country. (After all, I write my PhD thesis about a region in Western Romania.) I’ve always wanted to go to Transylvania because the pictures I saw made it look so beautiful. And guess what? Phil gave me a trip there as a birthday present!* He’s the best and I love him so much. <3
*My birthday is in January, but we waited until October because that’s a good time to go to Romania IMHO. The temperatures are neither too hot nor too cold.
We booked an apartment in Sibiu and spent the first days just exploring the town. The old town is so gorgeous! There are beautiful old houses around every corner. Transylvania is so interesting to me because it’s a region where multiple ethnicities lived next to each other over centuries, and their different influences show even today. For example, Sibiu was founded by Transylvanian Saxons recruited by the Hungarian king in the German territories in the 12th century AD.This was the view from our apartment. We lived right across the Orthodox church! I especially adored the stunning courtyards of many of the houses, like in the picture below. This is the entrance to a restaurant situated in the house’s former wine cellar. The restaurant name shows how multilingual the city still is! There’s even a German bookshop, the Schiller-Buchhandlung. I had actually ordered some literature for my studies from them before, so I was stoked I could finally visit the store IRL.
The Brukenthal palace was decked out in the Romanian colours to celebrate 100 years of unification this year. While we were there there was some kind of ceremony on the big square in front of it. They had a parade with traditional costumes and then reenacted the unification. We had expected a multi-day festival, but honestly it was over pretty quickly.
I adore traditional Viennese coffeehouses, so I just had to go to the Café Wien. It was our favourite café in Sibiu! They also have a small terrace where you have a terrific view over the roofs of the city.We made sure to eat a lot of traditional Romanian dishes.
At the Sibiul Vechi, I had sarmale cu mamaliga (stuffed cabage with polenta) and Phil had Traista ciobanului (which is basically meat stuffed with sausage and cheese, laced in cheese – it’s perverse but somehow really good). For dessert we both had delicious plum dumplings. The restaurant is designed to look like a traditional farmhouse from the Sibiu region and has traditional Romanian live music, which makes it a really cool experience.
At the Carciuma din Batrani, we had brânză de burduf (a cheese made with sheep milk that I’m obsessed with) with olives and homemade bread. I then had a hearty beef soup and Phil had a dumpling made with polenta. I forgot to take pictures at the other restaurants we visited, but those two were our favourites anyway!
Outside Sibiu there’s a big open-air museum with old farmsteads, wineries and other types of traditional village buildings. During the summer season, there are even people working in these buildings showing old crafts and trades. Unfortunately we were a bit too late for that, but walking through the museum was enjoyable anyway! The landscape is just stunning and it was still interesting to look at the different types of buildings.
One of the things I definitely wanted to see were the fortified churches. Since Transylvania as a border region was continually subject to military conflicts, churches were built with weir systems. The fortified church in Cisnădie, a little town a few kilometers outside Sibiu, is from the beginning of the 13th century. I actually wanted to see the one in Cisnădioara, because it’s the oldest Romanesque church in Romania, but I just couldn’t figure out the bus schedule. Oh well. Cisnădie was definitely worthwhile as well! I loved to explore the site.
We went up the church tower despite the sign that said “Enter at your own risk”. I’m usually all over exploring, but I’m a bit afraid of heights so that was quite the adventure for me. I was drenched in sweat and my knees were shaking afterwards! I’m still glad I did it, haha.
On the last day, we had planned to go to Dracula Castle. It’s super clichéd, of course, but we felt you kind of have to go there when you’re in Transylvania for the first time …? Alas, it was not meant to be. The Romanian public transport system is my personal nemesis, always has been. I just can’t figure it out. We got stranded in Brașov and then decided to explore its old town instead.I especially loved visiting the Black Church (it name stems from a fire that blackened its walls). We wondered why there were prayer rugs hung all over the walls at first, but then we read that rich patricians would buy them and be layed out on top of them after their death, and then had them donated to the church. Isn’t that interesting?! We really enjoyed Brașov because it seemed a bit younger and more bustling than Sibiu. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Sibiu’s coziness! I sorely needed some time out to relax. But next time (and there will be a next time!) we’ll probably book a room in Brașov because there was a lot to explore and discover there!The trip by train even gave us the opportunity to see more of the gorgeous Transylvanian landscape.
Pretty, yes? I really want to go hiking there. Next time! So in the end it wasn’t that bad that we couldn’t go to Dracula castle … I hope you enjoyed my Sibiu travel diary! I know it wasn’t crafting-related, but I want to expand my writing here thematically. For one, I’m slower at sewing and knitting than I used to be due to my pain issues, but mainly because I’m feeling a bit restricted by project-based posts only. I’m hoping I’ll be able to have more fun with blogging this way, which should lead to more frequent updates in the future!