December 27, 2012 by Aggy
For the second time in a row I’m spending Christmas away from my family. Although I can’t think of a better place than home to spend Christmas, I’m always lucky to be surrounded by my lovely friends in a beautiful place covered with snow. White Christmas for two years in a row ain’t bad!
Last year, I spent a very lovely white Christmas in Innsbruck, Austria. This year I decided to explore one of the cities in the famous, mystical Transylvania region of Romania – Braşov.
As soon as I got off the train station, the city was nothing like Bucharest – well except for the taxi who were trying to rip me off. Arguing with the annoying taxi driver would just ruin my Christmas holiday so I decided to take the bus (only 1.5RON compared to 60RON taxi ride!).
The medieval city is full of history with amazing, old buildings and an unmissable “BRASOV” sign, similar to the famous “Hollywood” sign. From up there you can see the beautiful city, mostly covered with snow.
On Christmas day, Braşov was very very foggy. The amount of fog was just unbelievable. This however, didn’t stop me from roaming around the city and having a blast. Wrapping myself up with countless layers and boots (which apparently was not made for cold Romanian winter!), my friends and I set our foot to discover Braşov.
I don’t know if it was the fog or the snow or the combination of both that made the city so mystic and eerie – not in a horror-movie-way but rather in a beautiful-fairytale-way. Exploring the quiet city on Christmas day was a beautiful and unforgettable moment. Of course at that time nothing was working (except restaurants) but we visited the landmarks of Braşov.
Braşov is a city surrounded by walls with watchtowers as to defend themselves from attacks from the Turks and Tartars back in the days. The famous towers, called the Black Tower (Turnul Negru) and White Tower (Turnul Alb), are situated near each other. Both were closed during Christmas day but you could still climb up to the hills where these two towers are located though we couldn’t get inside. The hike was not much but pretty challenging with the slippery, icy path.
After slipping a few times and looking like a complete goof trying to get down from the slippery stairs, we decided to stuff ourselves with Romanian dishes as our Christmas lunch. Luckily the restaurants at Strada Republicii (“the most beautiful street in Braşov” as the staff at the hostel described) were open.
I am a big fan of Romanian cuisine and I don’t regret a single second choosing it as my Christmas lunch. From ciorba de fasole in paine (bean soup in bread), snitel de pui (chicken schnitzel) with cartofi taranesti (potatoes with bacon and onions) and finished off with the hearty papanasi. It was an OH-SO-GOOD Christmas meal!
For the second half of the day, we spent exploring the other part of town. We started with the narrowest street in Romania (and maybe even in Europe?!). The street is called Strada Sforii which means string street.
Next was probably my favourite place of all Braşov. As we walked by a street, we discovered St. Nicholas church. Covered by the thick fog, we could barely see the magnificent building. As we entered the area of the church, the amazing church was standing before us. The fog and thick snow just made the church even more beautiful. In the area of the church, you can also find Prima şcoală românească (first Romanian school).
After admiring the gorgeous, brightly lit Christmas tree at Piata Sfatului, I ended the day by thinking “Spending a totally white Christmas in Braşov was the best decision ever!”. The hostel where we stayed even made us a Romanian Christmas dinner with the famous dish Sarmale (cabbage with meat) which made the day more perfect than it already was.
HOW TO GET TO BRAŞOV
From Bucharest you can easily catch the train from the main train station Gara de Nord. There are trains to Braşov nearly every hour, check here for the schedule of trains.
WHERE TO STAY IN BRAŞOV
I recommend Kismet Dao Hostel, the staff are incredibly friendly and they will answer any questions you have about the city and its surroundings. They will even make you a delicious Christmas dinner! From the main train station of Braşov take the number 4 bus to the station Sanitas, from there the hostel is just 5 minutes walk.
Have you ever been to Braşov during the winter? What did you think of it?