Why Braşov?

Originally this started as a plan to go and visit the French Alps but a load of our friends dropped out towards the time of booking. This isn’t that surprising most of your friends when you hit your 30’s tend to get more interested in Ikea rugs and babies than they are in climbing mountains and visiting isolated eastern European countries. I’ll stick to adventures thanks before coffin shopping at Ikea thanks. Now most people will probably be asking ‘why would you go there?’ and the answers to that are these. You can hike the epic Carpathian mountains, you can take part in extreme sports, the food is really good and cheap and so is the beer. Plus it’s unusual and and adventure into an area with medieval architecture, crazy amounts of myths and legends and a fascinatingly bloody history. I’d always wanted to see Transylvania as a child because at a young age I was really into myths, legends and horror films and writing. It’s a passion I shared with my late nan who would be extremely jealous that I was getting to see this place. Talking of legends it’s worth mentioning here before we continue that even though Bram Stoker’s basis for Count Dracula Vlad Tepes III was born in Transylvania, he was actually the ruler of Wallachia. Additionally he was no count he was a Voivode, he ruled three times but his legacy far outlasted him.

Anyway all off this aside we start planning the trip at my mate Andy’s while listening to the soundtrack from the Film Van Helsing, because it seems to fit the vibe and having a few beer. It turns out that Brasov is pretty hard to get to which in our case just makes it far more appealing because it will be even more of an adventure. In fact as it turns out it’s two flights and a two and a half hour taxi journey from Henri Conada airport in Bucharest and through the mountains to Brasov. While we are at it we book a hiking trip into the Transylvanian mountains to Vârful Turnu peak which you can read about in another blog HERE and a trip to Seven Ladders Canyon (Canionul Șapte Scări) which you can read about HERE. 

The Not So Great Escape

Finally after a few weeks of work since the last adventure ( I do try and spend most of my life on holidays) it’s finally our day to escape. We arrive in Frankfurt airport and any notion I have of German efficiency is immediately trampled to death because of crowds of people who should be waiting to check in being total asshats and jumping the line to enter departures. I don’t know if this is a German or European thing maybe we are perceiving as rude because we aren’t used of it or these people are just massive dickheads with no regard for other people. To make things more absurd we have more than a few people who have been loudly complaining about the behaviour of said asshats who decide that waiting to check in isn’t for them either so they decide to jump the line too. Needless to say we miss our connecting flight to Bucharest because of these people. We find a member of airline staff who is initially very helpful but then suggests we have missed our flight because ‘we did not try and make it on time’ even though she is aware of the mass of people who missed the same flight. Despite being a massive tool about the situation, while i’m imagining her spontaneously combusting she get’s us both boarding passes for the next flight. Unfortunately this next flight isn’t going to touch down in Frankfurt for hours yet which leaves me and Andy stranded and fuming. The only thing that helps calm us a little is some ridiculously expensive German beer and Pretzels. While we are sat drinking our beers we have to spend about half an hour on the phone trying to contact our air BNB provider and our taxi service because of the change of flight. We end up having to contact them again when it turns out our new flight is going to be delayed.

When the plane finally arrives I have to admit my inner child is hoping for a giant vampire bat to touch down, but I’m sure it’s disappointed as we board the usual flying metal cigar tube full of screaming children. On the bright side it isn’t a long haul flight, though by this point it has already been a really long day. The flights actually pretty good but I’m finding it slightly hard to relax as I’m trying to think up a contingency plan in case we miss our taxi pickup and get stuck in Bucharest. Admittedly it wouldn’t be the worst to be stuck there as it sounds like a cool place but it will end up eating into our budget. Eventually we set down in the aforementioned city in nice warm weather but this little ray of happiness is quickly crushed and ground into the pavement like a fairy under someones shoe when we try and collect our bags.

We have to mess about for about half an hour after finding an airport working who speaks English discovering that the airline has lost our bags. After sorting out with them we are informed we will have our bags delivered to where we are staying the next day. (In retrospect this is total tosh as they ended up turning up a day later meaning we had to stay in waiting for them) Luckily ever since having the same thing happen when visiting Tenerife months previously I’ve had a habit of packing all my meds and spare clothes and contacts in my hand luggage. After all of this, what feels like the longest day ever already we finally meet our taxi driver.

We drive down roads where everyone seems to have a death wish. To add to the excitement there are no crash barriers on the Transylvanian roads and no central reservation either. There are actually people reversing their cars onto this dual carriageway in front of cars coming the other way… But at least finally we are nearly there! Every few hundred metres or less there seems to be locals selling the biggest watermelons I’ve ever seen from carts and stalls. These things are epic and we later in the trip struggle to get one of these things back to the apartment while semi sober. As you can see from the picture below it was bloody huge and must have weighed 25kg.

Finally we progress onto roads weaving their way through mountain passes covered with thick ancient looking forest where a thick mist clings and weaves its way through the trees. There’s plenty of film material and books that describe the mountains of Transylvania as spooky and mysterious and seeing the landscape I’m seeing now through the window really shows this at least is based on reality. You can see straight away why such a landscape would inspire and harbour myths and legends. As you can see from this picture we took on our way hiking up mount Tampa, the forests surrounding Brasov are really dense.

As we drive through these winding mountain roads towards Brasov we pass a number of old looking small churches, which remind me of something out of ‘tales from the crypt’. As we drive through a small town we notice perched high on the mountain peak behind the town a lone cross looking down ominously on the town below, as if to guard it.  As we reach Brașov our driver chats to us about where we plan to visit, and we tell him about our upcoming mountain trip. We also casually ask him about bears, and he and the passenger in the front just laugh at us and tell us ‘you would be very unlucky to meet one’. It’s crazy that our taxi journey only works out to about £61 return considering the trip is around five hours each way.

I guess I should say a bat more about the city at this point, Brașov is one of the largest cities in the country of Romania and it sits on the northern slopes of the Southern Carpathian mountains also known as the Transylvanian Alps. As cities go it is probably one of the most remote I have visited, as it is surrounded on three sides by mountains and as mentioned before there also thick dense forest. In the centre of Brașov sits Mt Tâmpa and in the 1950’s during the communist era Brasov was named ‘Stalin City’ or Orasul Stalin. During this period trees on the slopes of Tâmpa were cut down to leave clearings that spelt out Stalins name, luckily over time the trees grew back and the name faded away.

Exploring: Brașov

The day after we arrive we take a walk through the old town towards the main square of Brașov, stopping to try some food at a traditional Transylvanian restaurant. When we get inside and sit down the first thing we notice is the insanely fast folk music which is a bit mind bending. Like someone knocked the pitch control on a turntable. The closest thing I managed to find to it which sounds almost exactly like it is this Balkan Gypsy music which you can hear below. It’s quite confusing to listen to if you are used to western music, kind of how I’d expect going insane to sound if it had a sound!

We order an Angus beef stew and I decide to jump straight in and order the cabbage leaf rolls. These are called Sarmale and basically they are sour cabbage leaves stuffed with a mixture of ground meat in this case, served with a bacon rib (i think) sour cream and polenta. Even though I’m glad I tried it I don’t think they are really my thing. Even though later we discover there are far better restaurant’s in the area for food, rule one of travelling don’t always eat in the first place you find!(Unless you are starving like we were)

We head into the main square after walking past lots of old buildings and a street that’s unsurprisingly named ‘Strada Vlad Țepeș’ and all the way the view from the street we are walking up is dominated by Mount Tampa which looms over the city. And it’s impossible not to notice Brasov’s very own Hollywood style ‘Brasov’ sign perched close to the summit, which considering how much Hollywood has used the surrounding areas to shoot film is more than earned. In fact there’s 76 film titles alone listed on IMBD shot here

The main square ‘Piața Sfatului’ and a very photogenic pigeon

Biserica Neagră or the ‘Black church’

We head to the Biserica Neagră or ‘Black Church’ which is one of Brașov‘s well known landmarks, it’s not actually fully black however it’s name comes from the soot deposits and scorch marks made by a fire inside during the 1680’s. This place is impossible to miss visually as it is absolutely massive and imposing looking even ominous. I’d describe it as the size of a cathedral in fact I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s bigger than the cathedral in my home city of Birmingham. Just trying to look up at the top of this vast structure gives me a bit of a sore neck in fact.

There are plenty of myths and legends in Romania and of course the church has one itself. On the edge of the church roof on one of the external pillars you can see a statue of a boy. Unfortunately nobody could tell you why this statue is where it is but there are of course some local legends. One says that he was one of the workers on the church and as he leaned over one of the walls he fell to his death, (bearing in mind this building is 65 metres high!) and the statue was built in memory of him. Another legend states that the boy was an excellent construction worker and that one of his colleagues was envious of his talent, so he pushed him off the roof to his death, and his other colleagues built the statue in order to remember him. However the most intriguing is that the boy was behaving badly and his father, a priest sent him to the attic as a punishment. However while the boy was in the attic the fire that blackened the inside of the church started, trapping the boy and the statue is intended to be of him trying to escape the flames.

I couldn’t see him for the life of me so: Image credit to discover.turistintransilvania.com


Rope Street

This narrow fifteen century medieval lane is apparently one of the narrowest streets in the world. It was built to allow fire brigades access at both ends to the large thoroughfares of the city. I’m not quite sure why it’s such a tourist attraction, but each to their own.

Rope street with the Brasov sign high up above. Cosy

Bran Castle

On the way to Bran we get massively ripped off by a taxi driver, which is a lesson learnt, it might be cheap here but anywhere you go you should be wary of people that will extort tourists. Bran Castle is an awesome sight and like something out of a movie. It’s easy to see how this place would inspire a writer like Bram Stoker. On the approach to the castle huge crosses like gravestones protrude from the earth like dire warnings. The castle was built on a cliff that looks down into the Bran gorge which links Brasov with Arges and due to that it enjoys some impressive views.

The extremely imposing Bran Castle
These look ominous but I’ve not been able to find and explanation of what they are anywhere.
Medieval tickling sticks
Perfect for going shopping in medieval times

Heading Towards The Castle: Intense Tat Attack

The town of Bran-Moeciu is very tourist orientated and as you make you way to the Castle you are flanked on most sides by stalls selling what can only be described souvenirs that really suck, which is ironic really as most of them are in the shape of Dracula in some form or another. The fantasy Dracula is in full force here from Dracula pens to Dracula beer and Dracula stew. Flags around the path up the castle talk of Dracula drawing you in, little do we realise we wont learn hardly anything about Vlad III when we enter. We will learn to know what it’s like to be in a sardine can though.

The thing I least enjoy about the castle bar the surprisingly expensive entry fee is the ridiculous amount of tourists that are crammed into the place. We assumed after a bit of research it would be a bit quieter than it apparently usually is as we were visiting slightly out of season. This really isn’t the case, the crowd trying to enter the building is almost scary, if someone set off a firework people would definitely be trampled to death in the panic. I totally lose my temper after waiting to enter when we are pushed aside by tour groups and other tourists like we don’t exist. At one point telling another tourist who tries to justify it where to go, which is the less fun alternative to throwing them off the battlements. It’s extremely hot inside the building and at points totally stifling, which isn’y helped by the insane amount of people crammed into the place.It also feels like we aren’t really getting the time to take it in.

The Strigoi

Really the most interesting part of the tour for me apart from the views from the castle is seeing a manuscript regarding the original Romanian vampires before Stoker depicted Vlad Tepes as one. I’m not even sure wether this is a mock up or actually really old, however it’s title after looking at rough translations mean’s something like ‘Undead spells’. Anybody who is a bit into their vampire lore will recognise the term ‘Strigoi’ you may have heard it if you have watched the TV series or read the book ‘The Strain’ by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan. In some villages there is still a belief in evil spirits / ghosts known as ‘strigoi‘ The legend was that there were people who during the day were normal, however during the night when they went to sleep that their souls left their bodies as evil spirits. After leaving the bodies of their owners the souls haunted and harmed the other villagers when they slept, from the hours of midnight until the first crowing of a cockerel. When these hours were over the spirits could no longer hurt their victims. They are said to be destined to become the Strigoi Mort after they die. which is essentially a blood sucking re-animated corpse.

Queen Marias heart

If you are really into your myths and legends really Bran Castle is probably going to be quite disappointing for you as essentially it’s a museum to Queen Maria of Romania who lived here until her death around 1938.Rather unusually the heart of Queen Marie was at here request taken from her body upon her death and placed in a cliff at Bran. Apparently this is for people to approach for advice and support. Personally if I was dead I’d be horrified by the idea of random people coming to talk to me all the time I couldn’t get away from.

Food In Brasov

I’ve already briefly mentioned food, the majority of food I ate while we where in Brasov with the occasional dish that wasn’t that memorable. There’s probably plenty of excellent places far cheaper than we paid for but considering the prices for tourists when we went if you can afford to eat in the more expensive places then why not? At the time I’m writing this it works out to about £1 to 5.50 Romanian Lei, and a pint of domestic beer in Brasov will only cost you at the cheapest about 6 lei. Really we found we could eat and drink to our hearts content which bar the hangovers and indigestion was really enjoyable.


A Romanian desert which is best described as doughnuts made out of cottage cheese, which sounds unusual but they are amazing. You can get two varieties, fried and boiled. In our case we went and tried the fried version. The ones we have are served with jam and soured cream and a sprinkle of sugar. Crispy on the outside and soft on the inside with a great mix of flavours, I’d definitely recommend trying them. Deep fried cheese though, it’s like all out war on your arteries.

Goulash (Gulyas)

Goulash is something you can pretty much find all over Eastern Europe but the tastiest I’ve ever had was in Brasov, spicy and rich with really tender beef cuts. It’s got Hungarian origins and was apparently created by cattle farmers and shepherds. Gulyás means ‘herdsman’ or ‘cowboy’ and the dish itself is a spicy stew with a lot of paprika and bell pepper. It has to be one of the richest and tastiest things I’ve ever eaten, so much so I’ve even started cooking it at home. It pairs excellently with a good red wine and pretty much perfectly with the Romanian choices. If you are in Brasov definitely check out Sergiana restaurant, I’d definitely go there again for food.


I dont usually eat many foods other than local when I visit another place but in this case we decided to treat ourselves and drop into the Keller Steak House in Brasov and I can say its probably the best steak I’ve ever had. So much so I think we went there two or three times.

Have you been to Braşov? What did you think, did we miss anything? Tell us about it in the comments below.


I hope you found my blog useful or entertaining, any donations given go towards more adventures and therefore more blogs and equipment reviews! Donation is voluntary, and you can donate as much or as little as you wish, or not at all.

Thanks for reading and your support!

I hope you found my blog useful or entertaining, any donations given go towards more adventures and therefore more blogs and equipment reviews! Donation is voluntary, and you can donate as much or as little as you wish, or not at all.

Thanks for reading and your support!

I hope you found my blog useful or entertaining, any donations given go towards more adventures and therefore more blogs and equipment reviews! Donation is voluntary, and you can donate as much or as little as you wish, or not at all.

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