Romania

Sneak preview of the fantastic weather

Sneak preview of the fantastic weather

As we drove into Romania we had a complete change of plans. Our original plan was to drive from South West to North West but Jerome had just read about some crazy salt mine that was open to the public in a different direction. We would also then be able to travel through Transylvania. Our time was limited so we decided to wing it. Romania has a pretty interesting past, even before you mention the legendary Vlad the Impaler. On our most recent travels though Turkey and it’s neighbouring countries we had learnt a bit about the Ottoman Empire. The Ottoman Empire had once covered the Balkans and Central Asia. Romania was taken over by the empire back in the 15th century before gaining its independence again in the 1800’s.

Jerome had never seen snow like this and I have to say I got pretty excited too

Jerome had never seen snow like this and I have to say I got pretty excited too

When the Second World War came Romania supported Germany which lead to it becoming a communist state under the Soviets command after the war. This changed in the 70’s where it become a dictatorship and eventually just before 1990 the dictatorship collapsed and Democratic Romania began. It has been a member of the EU since 2007.

Passed this on the road, a Gypsy Palace perhaps??

Passed this on the road, a Gypsy Palace perhaps??

Anyways. We spent the night at a hotel just outside of Bucharest with the aim of reaching Pelisor Castle in Sinaia the next day. Pelisor Castle was built around the 1900 mark and was part of the larger castles of Peles. As we drove towards the area there was a lot of snow. Huge fluffy flakes poured down around us and the whole area looked like one big Christmas card.

DSC_0434

It was an interesting drive up to the castle in the snow.

Pelisor Castle is visually very attractive and sits on a slope surrounded by manicured lawns and trees. It was perfect weather to photo that place. The leafless deciduous trees were blanketed in a white carpet of snow which had also clung on to the castles spires and roof tops.

DSC_0422

Probably our favorite castle on the trip


After Pelisor Castle we made our way through Transylvania and onto Bran Castle.

Bran Castle

Bran Castle

OK so I’m sure that most people have heard of the legendary vampire, Dracula. He is a fictional character from a Novel by Bram Stoker. Dracula was in fact a nickname given to Vlad the Impaler who was the Prince of Wallachia (A Romanian province) back in the 1400’s. Vlad cemented his name in Romanian history by scaring off his enemies in a rather gruesome way. Wallachia was being threatened by the Turks, who invaded the area back in the 1450’s.

Entering Sighișoara in Transylvania where Vlad was born

Entering the town of Sighișoara in Transylvania where Vlad was born

Vlad and his army decided to make an example of anyone that they captured by severing their heads and impaling them on poles stuck into the ground in his territory. We are talking tens of thousands of heads here. When the enemy saw these heads and realised the brutality of the Prince, they soon retreated.

Just to the right is where Vlad the Impaler was born

Just to the right is where Vlad the Impaler was born

Bran apparently is the castle that Stoker based Draculas Castle on in his Novel back in the 1890’s. (Contrary to popular opinion, there is no one castle that Romanians can say was the inspiration for Stokers Castle).

Such a beautiful place

Such a beautiful place

Anyways, we stopped by for a cheeky picture of it on our way through to the Salina Turda; aka the salt mines!

Stopped for dinner at our hotel - Romanians cook a good stew!

Stopped for dinner at our hotel – Romanians cook a good stew!

The Turda salt mine is a disused mine that went back to the Roman occupation, but it was first mentioned in text back in the 1200’s. Nowadays it has been made into a salt museum so we parked up and went for an explore. Two heavy wooden doors marked the entrance to the mine. When we got inside, we were greeted by a narrow tunnel through the salt rock just less than 1km long and perfectly straight most of the way in. This section of the mine was built in the 1800’s to help get the salt out of the mine easily.

What a brilliant tunnel, and it's all salt!

What a brilliant tunnel, and it’s all salt!

After completing the 1km corridor we came to the Josef Mine, aka the Echos Room. But when we opened the door there was a padlocked barrier in front of it! A sign claimed that the chamber was 112m deep but we weren’t close enough to do any ‘testing’ 😉 After a quick inspection it was found that the padlock was rusted almost through. With one tug I had the padlock off and Jerome wheeled on through and up a step into a little platform overlooking the dark, bottomless pit. Man that chamber was crazy! We screamed at the top of our lungs and counted over 20 echos easily. There was a pebble on the floor and I couldn’t help but chuck it into the mine. 8 seconds later we heard a feint thud as it hit the floor, followed by a wave of thuds soon after. So cool!

The echo chamber - straight on view (too dark to take a photo looking down)

The echo chamber – straight on view (too dark to take a photo looking down)

We heard some people coming up the corridor behind us so we quickly exited the platform and popped the padlock back on the barrier. We continued on towards the Crivac Room.

Salt deposits on the wooden structures

Salt deposits on the wooden structures

The room was almost octagonal and was home to a massive wooden horse-drawn winch, or Crivac. The horses would spend all day harnessed to the wooden winch system, walking around in circles as the pulleys leading to the winch pulled up carts of salt from the Rudolf Mine deep below.

The Crivac

The Crivac

The next room was the Extraction Shaft Room where the 3m diameter pulleys descended vertically into the mines through the tower shaft. Apparently the pulleys are still in good working order today.

Jerome looking down into the mouth of the mine

Jerome looking down into the mouth of the mine

From the Extraction room we moved towards the actual salt mine. The rooms were on different floors so Jerome had to negotiate his way down steep wooden steps to get to the lift that would bring us down into the base of the mine. On our way we passed a viewing platform which allowed us to look into the mouth of the mine from above.

Looking down into the mine - insane!!!

Looking down into the mine – insane!!!

Boats sat on the water at the bottom, and what looked like the remains of heavy machinery sat on a network of bridges and platforms over the water. When we eventually descended into the pit via the lift, we were a little disappointed to find out that there wasn’t any machinery left behind.

The remains of machinery or cleverly designed fairground rides??!! Spot the boats too!

The remains of machinery or cleverly designed fairground rides??!! Spot the boats too!

The structures that we had seen from the top were in fact well sculptured fairground attractions. There was a ferris wheel, a bowling alley, min-golf and billiards to name a few. So the place really was geared up for tourism.

The view from the mine bottom, next to the shaft (see previous pictures)

The view from the mine bottom, next to the shaft (see previous pictures)

I think that they did a great job of making the attractions almost fit in with their environment. The view was so weird that when we show people photos of the mine it’s kinda hard for people to understand what they are looking at for a while.

You can hire boats to explore the area

You can hire boats to explore the area

Unfortunately the mine was closing and we had to make the arduous journey up the elevator, 4 sets of stairs and through over 1km of tunnels to get back to the car. I wished that we had come sooner or on another day as I think we may have missed a room or two. But all in all we were stoked as Jerome had been able to see almost all of the mine despite the stairs and ledges.

Looking up from the base of the mine shaft

Looking up from the base of the mine shaft

The next morning we left Romania and crossed the border into Hungary. Keep reading for more updates.

**As you may have guessed, we are rather behind on our blog postings. Just wanted to say a massive thank you to a select few of our followers who have literally read most, if not all of our posts. One blogger in particular has supported us throughout our entire journey and actually sent us an email this morning asking for the next chapter! So here it is Anomiepete 😉 Thank you for following us so diligently we are happy that you enjoy our experiences and tales! **

Categories: Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Post navigation

5 thoughts on “Romania

  1. Very informative article, i am regular reader of your site.
    I noticed that your site is outranked by many other blogs
    in google’s search results. You deserve to be in top ten. I know what can help you, search in google for:
    Omond’s tips outsource the work

  2. Hi all – thanks guys! It means so much to know that people are reading and enjoying our blog. We tend to go into a bit of detail but its a good way to remember our travels when we get old and grey! We are rather behind on the blog, in fact we have returned home now due to ongoing issues with Jeromes health. But fear not we have about 5 more countries to finish on the blog so heaps of reading material hahah. Cheers Jess

  3. Lindsay

    I love reading your posts (every single one!) and have been a little behind of late too, but like anomiepete, it’s a great chance to escape our patch or reality. I’ve heard of the salt mine before and I’d love to be able to see it for myself one day! Keep up the great posts!

  4. Great post – it’s good to read as I can achieve a little escapism through it! Good luck with the next leg of the journey.

  5. Gill Hosie

    I too have enjoyed following your adventures and had missed your updates but look forward to them when completed.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: