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Old 13 Aug 19, 09:40 PM  
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BONZO
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Join Date: Mar 02
Transylvania to Pennsylvania and beyond! Day 10 – Bucharest

Thursday 18th July 2019

Cast list (the usual):

Me: Shaun, Intrepid Traveller

Her: Alison, Slightly less intrepid traveller, but planner supreme and finds the good deals!

Trip Report Index HERE

We slept really well and were woken by the alarm at 09:30 which we snoozed a couple of times before actually getting up. Included in the cost of the hotel was breakfast which was a buffet selection. which wasn't great although the coffee was good.



So, we had a full day to fill and I’d thought about going to Dracula’s castle in Transylvania so carried out some investigation. It turns out there’s no such place although it’s possibly Bram Castle (amongst others) that claim links to the Dracula legend. After checking the map and routes it was way too far away to get to quickly and cheaply but there were alternatives.

After a bit more research I decided that Pele’s Castle in the Carpathian Mountains in Transylvania would tick a lot of boxes. We packed for the day and walked through town passing some lovely buildings





and made our way to the Gara de Nord - Bucharest North Train Station to get tickets for the 12:15 train to Sinaia. The station was very impressive and like most of the public buildings, all were a direct copy of their Parisian counterparts.



We factored in plenty of time to get tickets, even after a nice half hour stroll to the station and we had plenty of time to get tickets and catch the 12:15 train…..or so we thought!

We entered the station and found a ticket office and queued up to buy tickets but were pointed to another ticket office across the way. A shorter queue this time before we were told to go to a 3rd ticket office round the back! More queuing and no one seemed to just ask for a return to wherever they were going, each transaction appeared to be complicated and resulted in much discussion between the ticket clerk and customer.

Time was moving on so I checked the departures board to see what platform the train would be on in case we’d have to leg it. The queue didn’t move fast so I negotiated the automatic ticket machine and called Alison over out of the queue because we could select the tickets we wanted! However for some unknown reason we just couldn’t make the purchase so it was back to the queue. I left Alison there while I headed out to the main part of the station to identify the right platform so that we could run for it if necessary!

The trains were quite impressive!



Alison requested the tickets (mainly by calling up the name of the station on google and showing the assistant!) who sold her 2 tickets. She was ambling out of the ticket office looking at the tickets as I was jumping up and down waving at her because there was only 2 minutes to go until our train! She was then waving to me to indicate that there was no rush as we had tickets for the 12.55 train (first class with seat reservations! I shouldn’t have left her alone!)

(We found out later that if you were too close to the time of departure it wouldn’t complete the transaction on the ticket machine). We shelled out the princely sum of about £10 each for the 1st Class tickets and bought some water and soft drinks from a shop on the station concourse and waited for our train.

A comfort break was calling but only McDonald’s had a single unisex toilet and it was very popular so I thought I’d wait it out and hope for the best on the train. We found our seats in the less than luxurious 1st class but much better than 2nd Class and there was a toilet on board so result!



The scenery was stunning as we pulled out of Bucharest, possibly an area I’d like to explore further one day.

We arrived at Sinaia station, built in 1913 and it was reserved exclusively for the Royal Family and its guests at Peleș Castle, generally foreign leaders. For the Romanian history buffs - On the station platform, there is a memorial plate marking the spot where Prime Minister Ion G. Duca was assassinated by the Iron Guard in 1933. A second memorial plaque was erected in 1999 to mark the celebrations then held to mark 120 years of the Ploiești to Brașov railway line.

We left the train station and looked for signs to Pele’s Castle without much luck. We spotted an escorted tour group and followed them into town but they were just getting the Dotto train up which was now full and we wanted to walk anyway. I managed to grab some free Wi-Fi and found the way – we headed uphill through the woods to the Sinaia Monastery, apparently founded by Prince Mihail Cantacuzino in 1695 and named after the great Saint Catherine's Monastery on Mount Sinai in Egypt.



We stopped and took a look around, all very calm and serene and free toilets to boot! From here we followed the woodland path up to castle and passed a couple of sheds selling tourist knick knacks, local peasant wear and BBQ Corn on the cob!



We caught our first glimpse of Pele’s Castle, although it should really be known as a palace, and it was very imposing and atmospheric.



We thought about getting tickets to view the interior but there were significant groups queuing up so we thought we’d give it a miss and just wander around the grounds and gardens.








Sightseeing done we stopped in the nearby café for some lunch/snacks.





A lovely courtyard setting overlooking the castle and a place to watch the world go by – beautiful. We took a slow stroll back down through the forest and into the station. Armed with previous knowledge we bought our return tickets from the machine, as we were early enough it actually let us make a purchase.

We waited a while for the return train and I looked around the station and found a couple of interesting items which had no indication as to the reason why they were there – very strange.







After a while we boarded the train and made our journey back. On the way back to the hotel we kept an eye out for suitable restaurants for later in the evening but nothing really stood out.

Later on we showered and changed before heading out towards the Old Town and settled on a Turkish restaurant called Saray Restaurant. The food was good and it was really pleasant sitting outside.










Feeling a bit tired after all our travelling we took the short walk back to the hotel and fell asleep very quickly.
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Edited at 09:57 PM.
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