Euro Trip Week 2 Round-Up

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In case you missed it, I'm currently traveling through Europe, exploring hidden corners and must-see spots in Eastern Europe, the Balkans and the UK. I've been posting daily updates from my adventures on Facebook and Twitter, but in case you missed some of those, I've also decided to put together a weekly round-up to update anyone who's interested on what I've been up to for the past 7-ish days.

To catch up, read my Week 1 round-up.

Here we go with Week 2! (With the days being cumulative.)

Day 8

After a few more morning hours to explore Sighisoara, we hopped in a mini bus and headed once again into the Romanian countryside, bound for the village of Viscri. On the way, we stopped at a local festival where we sampled homemade breads and cheeses. In Viscri, an old Saxon village, we met up with our host/guide and went to visit the town's famous fortified church. This UNESCO world heritage site was amazing, and the tower offered up stunning views of the countryside. That evening, after a delicious home cooked meal and a visit to the village blacksmith, we watched the cows come home from the fields.

Romania
Homemade cheeses to try
Viscri, Romania
Viscri
Viscri, Romania
The view from the fortified church tower
Viscri, Romania
Watching the cows come home – they don't even need led, but just walk into their barns on their own.

Day 9

After an early mini bus ride back to Sighisoara, we caught a morning train to Brasov, one of Romania's most popular tourist towns. We took an afternoon walking tour of the town, checked out the historic collection of Turkish rugs inside the Black Church, and rode a cable car to the top of Mount Tampa for some nice views before a traditional Romanian dinner in the incredibly cute main square.

Brasov, Romania
The view of Brasov from the Black Tower
Brasov, Romania
Brasov's main square
Brasov, Romania
Brasov's Hollywood-esque sign on Mount Tampa

Day 10

Today was spent exploring the area around Brasov with our local guide Claudia. Our first stop was Bran Castle, where Claudia enlightened us about Romania's royal family, Vlad Tepes, communism, and everything in between. After touristy Bran, we caught another bus to Rasnov, where we went “the back way” up a small mountain to Rasnov Fortress. The hike was hot and sweaty, but I think the views were well worth it.

Bran, Romania
Painted eggs
Bran Castle, Romania
Bran Castle
Rasnov Fortress, Romania
Rasnov Fortress
Rasnov Fortress, Romania
Inside Rasnov Fortress

Day 11

From Brasov, we headed to the Romanian capital city of Bucharest by train. After finding our hotel, we went to the lovely Cismigiu Gardens for lunch and to escape the heat. Then it was a quick stroll to the gaudy Palace of the Parliament before I headed back to my room to recharge. I wandered around the city's Old Town once it got cooler, and met up with fellow blogger Wandering Earl for dinner.

Palace of the Parliament, Romania
Palace of the Parliament
Bucharest, Romania
A very strange statue

Day 12

We were up early for a 3-hour walking tour of Bucharest with a local guide. Hitting up the Old Town, Revolution Square, and a few places in between, Mikhail helped us see beyond Bucharest's slightly ugly exterior. After our tour, we began a long and miserably hot train ride across the border into Bulgaria. The only consolation was the fields and fields of sunflowers slipping past the window outside.

Bucharest, Romania
Inside a monastery
Bucharest, Romania
Downtown Bucharest
Revolution Square, Bucharest, Romania
The monument in Revolution Square is supposed to represent democracy impaling communism. But the locals just call it “the potato on a stick.”
Bulgaria
Sunflower fields!

Day 13

Day 13 was all about Veliko Tarnovo — at least, as much as we could manage in the scorching heat. This former-medieval-capital is one of the hottest places in Bulgaria in the summer, so we began early and went straight to Tsarevets Fortress. The fortress is HUGE, but almost entirely exposed, meaning that by 11 a.m. we were all sweating profusely. After some more wandering and a large ice cream cone, I retreated indoors for the afternoon, only emerging again once it began to cool off for a $3 pizza (yes, a WHOLE pizza) and some more photos.

Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria
Veliko Tarnovo, as seen from Tsarevets Fortress

Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria

Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria
Veliko Tarnovo, as seen from our favorite restaurant

Day 14

We caught a morning bus to Sofia, Bulgaria's historic and incredibly compact capital. I spent the afternoon exploring Alexander Nevsky Cathedral (and it's crypt full of old icons), and being blown away at the Archaeological Museum with some of my tour mates. Bulgaria has SO much history, and I never even knew. In the evening, we took a fantastic free walking tour of downtown Sofia, and wound up witnessing the beginnings of a protest before having dinner at a very traditional Bulgarian restaurant.

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Sofia, Bulgaria
Alexander Nevsky Cathedral at sunset
Sofia, Bulgaria
A guard outside the President's office
Sofia, Bulgaria
An unused thermal bath building
Sofia, Bulgaria
Protest! They are essentially against more ski resorts going up on a local mountain (which would mean deforestation)

The Week in Numbers

Each week, I'll try to give you an idea of how I'm traveling, and what things generally cost.

  • Number of flights: 0
  • Number of trains: 3
  • Number of buses: 5
  • Number of mini buses: 2
  • Number of times it's rained: 0
  • Number of times I've nearly passed out from the heat: Too many
  • A meal in a really fancy restaurant in Bucharest, Romania: $12 USD
  • Entry to Bran Castle with photo license: $7 USD adult/$2.80 student
  • Entry to Rasnov Fortress: $3 USD
  • A meal in Bulgaria: $3-$8 USD
  • Entry to Tsarevets Fortress: $3.85 USD adult/$1.25 USD student
  • Giant ice cream cone (2 scoops) in Veliko Tarnovo: $1.90 USD
  • Entrance to Sofia's Archaeological Museum: $6.35 USD adult/$1.30 USD student

*Note: I'm not quoting the price of accommodation, as it's all been included so far.

Sofia

So there you have Week 2 of my European adventure! Come back next week for Week 3's round-up.

If there's anything more you want to know about my weeks, tell me in the comments!

 

If you missed previous weeks…

 

*Note: Intrepid Travel has graciously provided me with a complimentary 18-day tour through Eastern Europe. But all opinions, as always, are entirely my own.

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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34 Comments on “Euro Trip Week 2 Round-Up

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  1. Amanda, you should join “Capture the colour” contest
    http://www.shorttraveltips.com/capture-the-colour/
    you probably could submit new entry every week 🙂

      I’ve heard about that contest! Unfortunately I don’t have all of my thousands of photos with me on this trip, so I’m not sure if I’ll be able to enter in time!

        I think you’ll make enough pictures on this trip 🙂

          Haha, yes, I’ve taken well over 1,000 so far, and I haven’t even been here 3 weeks yet!

    We haven’t been to Romania or Bulgaria yet do I will definitely be following along and noting your tips! And I can’t believe how incredibly inexpensive it is!

      This part of the world is ridiculously cheap, especially compared to Western Europe. I highly highly recommend both of these countries!

    Pretty cool shots. Really enjoying this virtual tour of Europe with you. The views are just so scenic and beautiful.
    Have a wonderful weekend Amanda:)

      Thanks, Arti! I figured this would be the best way to share my trip with everyone since my posts on each individual place will be published slowly. Glad to hear you’re enjoying following along!

    I’m enjoying your weekly posts tremendously – you do a great job of explaining and showing where you’ve been. And you’ve made me really want to get to Romania!
    Looking forward to the next installment.

      Thank you, Cindy! And I’m so happy to hear that you now want to go to Romania! It’s a fantastic country, and not as difficult to visit as most people assume (I’ll be writing about this later!).

    This sounds like an awesome week! All your photos are gorgeous, what beautiful countryside.

      The scenery is just getting better and better. Wait til you see Bulgaria!!

    Nice! We’re looking forward to our own eastern European adventure starting in two weeks, so it’s fun reading about others experiences in the area. We’re starting in Prague, and then heading east through southern Poland and Slovakia and Hungary.

    Looking forward to week 3!

      It’s such a great part of the world. Will you be making it down to Romania or Bulgaria at all? I highly recommend both!!

    What a week. So many fascinating sights. The fake Hollywood sign makes me smile.

      Fascinating indeed! I still can’t believe myself some of the amazing stuff I’ve seen so far. And my trip isn’t even half over yet!!

      That Brasov sign makes me smile, too. Apparently, before it said “Brasov,” it said something like “Truth and Justice” and was put up there by a political party.

    I knew this area is cheap. Europe is only a few hours away by flight from where I live, and people often travel to eastern Europe (or Greece, or Turkey until not long ago) if they want a cheap vacation. Yet I had no idea the area was this beautiful. Makes me wonder why I haven’t traveled there yet myself.

      Cheap AND beautiful – there should be no excuse not to go! 😉

    I’ve just returned from a trip taken with a friend – destination : Viscri 🙂 I just found out today where we were going and of course, I was not disappointed. The view from the tower is indeed breath-taking, especially since you have to climb the narrow stairs to get there. We also stopped in Saschiz on our way home, and visited the church there as well – we couldn’t climb in the tower though 🙁 Pictures and a post on the topic will be up this week – excited to have seen what you have seen 🙂

      Oh that’s awesome!! Was it just a day trip, or did you stay in Viscri overnight? So cool to know someone else who has been there recently!

        It was just a one day trip, and so worth it 🙂 – before visiting the castle, we stopped at a “cafe” where we had a cup of coffee and elder flower juice – it really made our day!

    Eastern europe is definelty on my to-do list, once I get New Zealand out of my system. (which hopefully is one more trip…)

    I’d like to do the coastal Balkans as one trip and the Black Sea side as another.

      Eastern Europe has been on my to-do list for years, so it’s great to finally be experiencing it. If I ever come again, though, it will NOT be in summer! It is TOO HOT. Lol.

    That Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia is stunning! I was never really interested in Eastern Europe…until I read your posts for the past 2 weeks. Also the fact that things aren’t very expensive there (unlike its counterpart, Western Europe) is influencing me to move this region upward on my travel list!

      It’s an extremely underrated part of the world, if you ask me. There’s a lot to see, the infrastructure is better than most people realize, and it is SO cheap compared to Western Europe. And, during the summer it’s NOT super crowded, either. You should definitely move it up on your travel list!

    As we can see the weather was good for photographer 🙂

      It’s been clear and sunny most of the trip, yes. Though I’m not sure I’d call temps in the mid-90s F (mid-30s C) “good.” Most days it’s been so hot that I don’t even want to go outside in the afternoon!

    Those are really amazing photos…..what type of camera are you using?

      Thanks, Adam! I’m shooting with an Olympus PEN Mini (E-PM1), which is a small micro four-thirds camera. I am in love with it!

    I love your weekly roundups! I was in Romania last November, we froze our butts off but I still might prefer it over the heat, although those fields of sunflowers looked like the rocked! I’m looking forward to seeing what next week has in store for you!

      Thank you! I’m not sure what’s better – the extreme heat or extreme cold. I’m sure whichever you encounter, you’re always wishing for the opposite. 😉

    Hey ! Do you remember your stay at Bernnacles backpacker at Paraparaumu beach (NZ) ? As I was talking to the kind manager about journalism she told me she knew a journalist that managed to live out of her travels (How great is that, that gave me a little hope !) 🙂 As she remembered the name of your website I went straight to check it on and I have to say that I really love it. Your pics are gorgeous.
    You can have a look at my recent blog if you want : http://the2kdreams.wordpress.com/
    But most of the articles are in French (as I am French journalist ;).
    Keep the good work

      Aww, that’s so sweet that they remembered me! How great is that place?

      I don’t actually make ALL my money off my blog (I’ll have to get a “real” job once I finish my Master’s degree), but I do manage to make enough money to support my travel habit! 🙂

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