it would be fair to say that Bucharest isn’t on too many people’s bucket lists mostly due to it being viewed as a concrete jungle with communist style architecture. Things are slowly on the improve, however, and the revamp of the Old Town is certainly an improvement on what iused to be here as little as five years ago. There are hotels, cafes and pubs all jostling for the tourist dollar, which makes the Old Town district, if not quite packed with people, certainly one with large enough numbers to give the place a buzz. Essentially, it has tarted itself up for partying Europeans which has also resulted in a large number of sex and strip clubs in the same area. Obviously the clientele it is seeking is men looking for cheap booze and eats with some extras thrown in for good measure.
We’ve blasted down the trainway from Brasov to Bucharest, a city first mentioned in 1459 as one of the residences of our old friend Vlad, ruler of Wallachia, who was responsible for growing the city to a decent size when he made it the preferred site of the Wallachian court. And while folk legend has it that a shepherd, Bucur, founded the city, it is more commonly believed that Radu Voda initially established it in the late 13th century AD, making this a relatively new city.
Ringed by the Carpathian Mountains in Transylvania is Romania’s 7th largest city Brașov. Boasting a beautiful cobbled old town with colourful barouque buildings and more than one imposing church, the city is more often than not used as a staging post by tourists for an assault on Bran Castle, once home to Vlad the Impaler. However, you’re missing out on this fabulous city if you simply pass through and it is well worth the time spent to explore every inch of a place that teems with medieval wonders.
Oradea has come a long way since it was first inhabited at the end of the Middle Palaeolithic, some time around about 50,000 BC to 35,000 BC. Originally called Nagyvárad when it only consisted of a small 10th century castle, and then the Latin Varadinum from the early 12th century AD, it wasn’t until the 14th century AD that it really flourished. Fast forward to the second half of the 19th century AD and the town had acquired nicknames such as the "Hungarian Compostela", "Paris on the River Pece", "Athens on the Körös", and "the City of Tomorrow". Communist rule might’ve stymied its progress since then, but there’s no denying that this is an up and coming destination full af rich Art Nouveau buildings that rivals anything else going around.
We’re really hitting our Kontiki straps now. Two days in our last city in Hungary, Debrercen, is followed up with three in Orada, our first city in Romania. The rain makes two days in Debrecen, more than enough, whilst the sun, suprerb accommodation and some new found friends make three days in Oradea nowhere near enough.