It’s redundant to say how much I love being on the road, discovering new places, finding out people’s stories and simply recharging my batteries in a different city.
This time we went to Sibiu, before spending the Orthodox Easter in Brasov and we even managed to sneak some other locations on our route.
I decided I wanted to share here the experience, writing my own recommendations and showing you some places you might not know about 🙂
Starting from where to stay to what to eat and where to go, I hope you’ll find inspiration in this post to offer more of your attention to the Saxon side of Romania.
Where to stay:
Villa Fortuna Art O’Clock was one of the most pleasant surprises of Sibiu and definitely the only place we’ll check in into from now on. After making a reservation with only two days in advance, I have also managed to mix up some dates (I am still working on my mind-eyes-hands coordination). However, the kind staff helped us manage our reservation without paying something extra for the mess created (thank you again!). The overall price and experience were absolutely great. And I have to say, the Superior Double Room was probably the most beautiful room I’ve ever been check in into. Of course, beauty is subjective; while others consider 5 stars hotels that have the exact same room in all the 32 locations spread in the world to be the top of the tasteful and aesthetic hotelier chain, I prefer rooms with character and subtle decorations which prove good taste.
Where to eat, drink some coffee and relax:
Cafeneaua din Librăria Habitus – is a wonderful book and coffee haven for when you need to get away from your quotidian life and just read for one hour… or four (#guilty). Also, they have the most amazing literary sweets in their menu (literary, the name of every sweet is the title of one book, how clever is that? – ‘The Catcher in the Rye’ yoghurt with muesli, orange, apple, ginger and honey is a personal favourite).
Café Wien – with a fantastic location, glorious views and famous coffee, this is more than just a café (they have this omelette with ham, cheese and mushrooms which is simply delicious!)
MAX by Piazzetta – this is rated as the best Italian restaurant in Sibiu ( april 2016, Foursquare) and to be honest, it truly exceeded my expectations regarding food, design, staff and overall experience. The tomato cream soup with croutons is fabulous and not to be shared with anybody, the homemade tagliatelle con salmone are magnificent (and the portion is humongous, either that or I became Alice in Foodland, you never know) and they also serve some really good baked potatoes with rosemary. While it reminded me of a restaurant in Brugge (pictured in this post), it also had its own distinctive touch and welcoming feeling.
Donuterie: All I can say is that I could barely concentrate on taking the photo when I had in front of me this wonderful, Oreo sprinkled donut:
Places to see:
Sibiu is a well preserved medieval city which will transport you to a movie set, where time stands still and waits for the people to finish their morning coffee. Strolling around the historic centre is a must and there are some things which shouldn’t be omitted in your visit:
The Big Square, which is home to the Brukenthal Palace, currently a museum of European and Romanian art, together with other temporary exhibits (if you are a fan of Bruegel II, you will be definitely fascinated by the works displayed in the permanent exhibition), the City Hall (which is surprisingly beautiful, by the way) and the Holy Trinity Church (right under it is that wonderful café you’ve read above – Cafeneaua din Librăria Habitus).
In the Little Square (such an unpredicted name, I know), you’ll find the entrance to the Council Tower, which offers stunning views above the city (which looks almost perfect with its red tile roofs and not so tall constructions – obviously, there had to be some glass monstrosities built in the center which are the most hideous looking and eye disturbing hotels in town, but not much can be done now for these cases, unfortunately).
In the same area, there is the famous Bridge of Lies (quite tempted to write Bridge of Spies, but sadly there has been no evidence of Tom Hanks ever walking on this bridge. yet) and the entrance to the Evangelical Church, which offers an observation point at way too many stairs above ground level. However, the effort is totally worth it.
Around Sibiu, if you have a car, you can reach multiple villages with amazing fortified churches.
One of them is in Cisnădie and it is now a place for theatre events or music nights (some of the activities held during the International Theatre Festival of Sibiu will actually be held there). It was there where I experience the incredible surprise of encountering Transylvanian hospitality. It was 18:23, we were rushing from our car and that’s when we saw that the ticket office was closing at 18 sharp and that the lady from the administration was descending with the last tourists while locking the doors. After we explained to her how much we wanted to visit the place, she gave us the keys and told us where to drop them. Shocking, I know. But this truly shows how wonderful it is to have faith in people and to consider everybody a good soul!
If you do decide to go there, savour every bit of the road to Cisnădie from Sibiu. The forests that the road pierces are mesmerizing and the light on the pavement almost looks like lace being broken softly by skin ( which is something a bit challenging to capture in photos, but not impossible, obviously).
The next place we saw was the Brukenthal Palace in Avrig. Paradoxically, the Palace is not open. The domains are currently undergoing restoration, with the old Oranjerie being transformed into a small sized hotel, events space and restaurant. The gardens are being brought back to their old beauty as well, while the Palace remains sadly touched only by time, water and degradation.
Another interesting fortified church is the one in Cârța . It was built by some monks in the 13th century, but it had a merciless destiny, having been destroyed partially several times among the centuries.
We met there its priest, who let us in, after wanting to close the doors (am I the only one having the déjà vu feeling?).
He is the only priest in 8 villages, so he holds the masses by rotation. He believes it is his duty to convince people to come to church and to even transport them by car, just so they do come. He was such a kind, open and generous man and my heart shattered when I heard that 16 years ago some people broke one window of the church only to steal three angels from the organ. I wandered then, if extreme poverty is the one leading some men into stealing (even from the church!), or the desire to make easy money (instead of lawning somebody else’s parchel).
Last on the list was probably the one place I wanted to see the most: The Guest Houses of Cincșor. I have seen so many photos of the place until now that I fell in love with it. We met with the owner, who made me believe that everything we do, everything we own and everything we plan should have a story. Nevertheless, what she and her team managed to do there was impressive. They restored the old school and the Evangelical parsonage and transformed them into these magical rooms – true oases of relaxation. Surrounded by traditional style lines, simplicity and the purest of white, once you’re there, you feel like you might never get a good enough reason to leave.
Right across the Guest Houses is the Fortified Church of Cincșor, a pathway to a medieval portal so tranquil and calming. It is definitely worth a visit and if you are courageous, go up the Bell Tower to experience the omniscient narrator perspective.
Have you seen any of the places listed above? If yes, what did you think of them? If no, what do you think? Will you give them a try?
Have a wonderful weekend!