Adventures in the marvellous Mini of doom!

Dave Smart

Bran Castle
Bran Castle

Day 20:

Determined not to turn up in a major city looking for a place to stay again, I was up early and on the Internet to find a hostel. Having booked the East Hostel in Bucharest, I got fed and watered and set off for Bran Castle, the setting for Dracula. Once there I parked up and wandered up to the Castle. The Castle is set in a spectacular area with beautiful views, but wasn’t really much to speak of itself – it seems it’s current owner wanted to sell it so the Romanian Government removed all the artefacts that belonged to the people.

I spoke to the parking attendant who reckoned the most hilly road was to the south, rather than back to Brasov, which would probably have been quicker. This turned out to be great advice as the road was really windy and great fun – lovely sweeping bends round narrow valleys and spectacular views. I really wish I’d had the video camera set up as there were some great overakes.

I reached the motorway, but decided to stay off this and use the old main road to Bucharest. This was a mixed blessing as it was much more interesting than sitting on the motorway, but the surface was appalling in places – there were a couple of occasions I was thrown up out of the seat.

Once in Bucharest, I seemed to be in the right sort of area for the hostel, as much by luck as anything, so I asked a helpful taxi driver for directions. It didn’t sound too difficult either so I set off and thought I was going in the right direction, but hadn’t seen the tramlines he had mentioned, so in a crisis of confidence I pulled over to see if I could find a wireless network to attach to. I got a map of Bucharest on the screen with the hostel, trouble was I didn’t know where I was so drove about 20 feet forward to read a street sign. It turned out to be the Piazza at the end of the street I needed to be in!

Once parked outside the hostel, a young lad took interest in the car. After the usual horn tooting and much laughing, he motioned that he was hungry. The only thing I had in the car was a small packet of sweets so I gave them to him but he didn’t look that impressed as I guess he was really after money. After checking into the hostel, I asked if there was any secure parking nearby, which there wasn’t, but the guy on reception came up with an idea of asking if I could park in the courtyard of the baths next door, I couldn’t, but the little boy from earlier said he knew somewhere. Around 100m down the road there was a secluded garage  for locals and, after a bit of negotiation, I parked there for about £5.

Back in the hostel, I met a couple of guys who were travelling around before going back to Uni so hooked up with them and wandered out for some dinner. We had a lovely meal in a place called La Mama but sadly the waiter was rather rude and didn’t expect us to want any change – bit cheeky we thought, so that demolished his tip. We wandered round a couple of small bars and ended up being ripped off in a Hilton bar, but only in local terms as it was still only £2.50 for a beer, after this we retired for the night.

I don’t think I’ve really done Bucharest justice so I expect I’ll return again by air.

Keith Adams

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