Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Few Hours in Sighisoara

Our son suggested that we could take the train from Brashov to Sighisoara, visit Sigi for a couple of hours and catch the train to Sibiu.

The city of Sighisoara is putting a lot of money into restoring buildings, improving infrastructure and building hotels. The town is looking good!

I understand that the roof is of Hungarian design, which is the
ethnicity of most people in Transyvania

 Recognize the name? He was actually born in Sighisoara,
though his castle is in Brashov

 there is a nice mix of stone and wood in Transylvania

 I believe this is a gypsy cart

So we headed back to the train station, only to hear an annoucement that seemed to say that the train was late. So we waited and waited. Finally a train came and we got on it. We had a vague realization that we were not boarding from the platform we was supposed to be boarding from but we assumed it was a mistake.

After a few kilometers my observant husband noted that the sun was on the wrong side of the train for us to be heading west towards Sibiu. He figured that at some point the tracks would veer off in a different direction, west towards Sibiu.

Then the conductor came and checked our tickets. We were on the wrong train and were heading back to Brashov, with no way to get off!!

The upside was that we had a delicious dinner in Brashov that night. The vegietables on the upper right of the wooden plate are lightly pickled, which is common in Transylvania. Delicious!

So the next day we were back on the train, viewing the same scenery for the third time.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

On To Brashov, Romania

We took the train to Bucharest, in Romania, where we were greeted with freezing temperatures in early October. The train station has doors on only one side, so it was very cold inside. We did find one heated room and as long as you have a ticket, then you could sit in it.

So without so much as a glance at Bucharest we caught the next train to Brashov, where the famous Dracula Castle awaited us, if we chose to visit. However the reports on it were not good so passed it up.

Our guesthouse was off of a large courtyard, which was behind these doors:

The interior or our guesthouse

These magnificent wood heaters are still common in Romania but are not always in use. Our guesthouse owner said he kept it because the tourists like it. The one below was keeping an art gallery warm.

Brashov has lots of beautiful buildings

bakery window in Brashov
business is conducted through the window on the right

one of the local treats

After a cold day in Brashov, the next day we were off on the train, planning a stop of a couple of hours in Sighisoara, then on to Sibiu.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Some More Pics from Veliko Tarnovo

Any idea what this sign says? Bulgaria uses the cyrillic script, the same as Russia and the Ukraine. Luckily my husband had studied Ukrainian when he was young so he was able to decipher it. Can't remember what it says.

The sign pointing to the left says Center

Can you figure out how to get to Romania?

We had frequently wondered why Europe doesn't grow the tasty corn we are so fond of in North America. Here was a stand selling corn, but we guessed it wasn't going to taste as good as ours.

They love their historical figures and have numerous statues of them.

a superb stew


Friday, March 18, 2011

Artisan Street in Veliko Tarnovo

The route between downtown and the Hostel Mostel took us by a street that veered off on an angle, off of the street we were travelling on. We would never have known what wonders awaited us there unless Tanya at the hostel hadn't told us.

I seems that once, again, Veliko Tarnovo hasn't quite got its act together regarding how to promote itself. No worries, that is part of its charm. I am just so happy that we found the ancient street of the artisans.

 The first store to catch my attention had an amazing display of pottery in the window. I must admit that I am not a big pottery fan, but I fell head over heels for the work of this potter:

I took home the one in the upper left corner

The sign above a shop declared Sand Coffee. So we had to find out what it was. It turns out that the sand is heated and the coffee is heated by the hot sand.

an amazing chess set!

if I remember correctly, there was an art gallery inside

this man was pounding copper to make pots

Gary, buying a still hot loaf of the most beautiful looking bread. Note that the money and bread are passed through a window

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Market in Veliko Tarnovo

I love markets, especially when they have stall full of colourful fruits and vegetables. It was a bit of a struggle to find it (after the screwed up sign at the tourist info booth...should we be surprised?) but it was worth the effort:

I was smitten with the colourful peppers
The large pile of lime green vegetables are peppers

The roots with green tops are parsley. It seems they are edible. I did an online search and sure enough, there is one variety that is grown for its roots. Its Latin name is Petroselinum crispum tuberosum (also known as Petroselinum hortense). The common curly parsley is Petroselinum crispum. You can find a recipe and some further info on the Cook Almost Anything Blog, though the roots in the picture are much larger than these.

excellent cauliflower and cabbage

huge bags of red peppers

There was grocery store underground, in the market area. There
was lots of beautiful meat, particularly sausages
And a ready-to-eat section, with food that tasted good! On the left you can see eggplant slices, then potatoes, roasted peppers, coleslaw, various bean and tomato mixes and out of the picture on the right were
cooked chicken, sausages, etc. There was a line-up so we assumed the locals must know something and we bought the vegies pictured above. To our surprise, the least likely to taste good were the potatoes, but they were excellent!!

In another area there was a cooked fish store. I could definitely live in this town!!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Gurko St in Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria

Gurko Street is an beautiful old street of cobblestones, with restored house piled up on top of each other, looking out over the river.

We walked it many times, taking picture after picture. To me, this is the heart of Veliko Tarnovo and the part of the town that has left me with the best memories.

In a year or two, I expect that this building will be renovated:

I really regret not having explored up these steps:

As one walked further east (towards our Hostel Mostel) the road became
narrower and the building older, and fewer were renovated.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Ever Heard of Veliko Tarnovo?

If you haven't heard of it, then I expect you will be hearing about it in the next 10 years and that it will be on a well-trodden tourist path.

This jewel of a city is in north-central Bulgaria. It is a former capital of Bulgaria, with a current population of about 80,000.

The Yantra River traces a very complex path through the town, at the base of the cliffs. Enlarge the map below to get a view of the river's path.

View Larger Map

The Yantra River winding through part of the town

Above the river, are cliffs, on which there is a magnificent display of houses stacked on top of each other:

Its amazing that they have lasted there for two centuries!

from the Wikipedia webpage on Veliko Tarnovo. This picture is
outstanding when enlarged