Twenty-eight years ago I traveled across Europe via an Inter Rail Pass, but despite getting as far a Poland, I never made it to Romania to visit Transylvania and the famous castle and the stories of Dracula.
As this summer approached Fran and I both started thinking about where we could go. We had both thoughts about taking the VW van to Romania previously, but we decided that taking the van would eat into the time we would have in traveling in Romania. The plan was to fly to Bucharest, spend a few days in the city, then catch the train into Transylvania, spend a few days in Brasov, then catch another train to Sighișoara, spend some time there, then get a final train to Sibiu and hire a car so that we could get off the beaten track.
Bucharest is a big city that is split into six sectors; the transport system is like any other city. However, currently there is no metro from the airport to sector 3 where we wanted to be based, so if you are traveling independently, your choices are either, taxi or bus. We opted for the bus, which was a bit of a challenge if it is your first time.
I hope this info helps others who have just landed. From the arrivals area follow the picture signs for buses, walk down the stairs until you can see the road outside, when you walk out of the doors, turn right, keep walking straight ahead past all of the other machines that look like they dispense tickets, eventually you will see a little hut with a glass window, this is where you can purchase tickets. Might sound simple, but that little ticket both is not easy to locate, as there is no information anywhere.
I can remember watching Michael Palin visiting Palatul Parlamentului (The Palace Of Parliament) informing people that Nicolae Ceausescu’s idea was to redesign Bucharest by constructing a series of impressive buildings meant to prove to the world how wealthy and powerful was the Socialist Republic of Romania was, but the thing that stuck in my mind was the sheer size of the building. I did some homework as to how we could visit this building prior to leaving the UK, so I knew we had to take our passports to gain access and that there would be security checks like at the airport as it’s a working political building.
Initially, I was put off by the fact that you have to be guided, but you have no other choice, as it is a working political building. However, the guide we had was excellent, I learned a lot about Ceausescu and the impact on the people of Romania and the history of the building. Despite only being able to take pictures handheld, we were able to take some images inside of the building.
Palatul Parlamentului is no doubt one of the most controversial administrative buildings in the world. Maybe Ceausescu didn’t succeed in his initial goal of redesigning the face of Bucharest, but by building it he made sure that his work will never be forgotten and personally, I think it is well worth a visit.