Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Road trip in the Carpathian mountains

Unable to go to the seaside whilst in Romania (sad face), my best friend Diana and I decided on a trip in the mountains. Not that we're expert hikers -not terrible either might I add- but going in the mountains is sort of a Romanian tradition: our grandparents did it, our parents did so it's kind of a generational rite of passage I suppose.
I guess I can say we half-cheated because we left on a Thursday morning from Bucharest and got to the mountain resort of Busteni at around 10.30. It would have been quite hard to start climbing from the very bottom of the mountain so we took the cabin to the Babele in the Bucegi mountain side. This was already at 2292 m height so one could argue it did the dirty work for us. At this point, I recommend you go to the cabin station very early because of the very small amount of cabins that combined with the fact that they only take around 20 people equate to long queues.

Once we got onto the plateau, which is massive by the way, we took to see the Babele aka 'The old ladies' which is the name given to some weird rock formations that were shaped by erosion and the Sphinx, named so for obvious reasons. I have to admit though, I was a little underwhelmed, they are much more scarce and small than I imagined. I blame it on photoshoped tourist cards.

We found snow in a mountain edge - sing it like Rihanna

Updating Instagram and Facebook because there is internet connection!

We then followed the path to the Heroes' Cross on the Caraiman Peak, built in memory of the people who died in WWI. The view on a sunny day from up there is really worth the trek.

Despite our parents' warnings, we returned to the cabin station via the brane (which is a very narrow strip of land turned into a path) and that's where the adrenalin kicked in. To be honest, it's not that difficult, I've seen worse, but it's definitely more fun that the conventional way back.

Aaaand I made a dam...
When we got to our accommodation we were literally spent. We had an amazing Romanian desert called Papanasi which are doughnuts covered with sour cream and jam at the Cochet restaurant in Busteni and then called it a day.
The next morning we packed our bags up again and walked to the end of our road to start walking to the Urlatoarea waterfalls. It said 45 minutes on the sign but I think it took us more than that. The road slithers through the forest and it's definitely not too difficult. The waterfall is well a waterfall but it was pretty but I kinda got creeped out by a sign warning tourists not to venture off marked paths because they might befriend a bear...

Wild strawberries are the reason I love mountains

Our next objective on the list was the Cantacuzino Castle, a beautifully restored 1920's mansion in neo-romanian architectural style. The grounds were lovely and it was really nice to see work being done to preserve attractions such as this. The terrace outside was perfect for a frappe coffee (my absolute favourite) and the newly opened restaurant called Canta also had a promising menu if you were looking for some quality food. Inside, the castle is virtually empty and mostly restored. Overall, the restorations were done ok, in keeping with the original from what old photographs showed, but I have to say I hated the lavender and mint color scheme they picked over the original ochres.

From there we had lunch at Cabana Schiorilor in Sinaia and I finally had some bulz - a traditional mountain recipe of semolina, lard, traditional cheese and a fried egg on top - delicious!

We were on our way to Provita where we would be spending the night with some of Diana's family friends but we had a quick cultural stop in Campina to visit the Iulia Hasdeu and Nicolae Grigorescu memorial house. The latter was a biiiig disappointment for me, as I am doing a research project on his paintings and was sure I'd find gems of information there...


  1. The view is breath-taking! This place is amazing!!^^
    Ps.I write a blog, when you have an extra time look my site and leave a comment!^^ty!!

  2. I'm glad you like it! It makes me so happy when people appreciate my homecountry :) I'll be checking it out, thanks for telling me!

  3. Ana, ciao! how long it took to take the telecabina and walk the sfinx/babele/cross trail then back to Busteni? can we do that in one day after which drive about 2 h to the next destination? we are planning to go there in a week"s time so would be lovely to insert this bit in our road trip. thanks. drew

    1. Hi Drew! I'm glad you want to visit this side of 'natural' Romania - It's one of my favorite I have to admit. The telecabina won't take you more than 30 minutes one way and queues should be considerably smaller now that people are back at work. If you walk on the plateau like we did, I'd say it should take about 2 to 3 hours, depending on your hiking abilities and walking speed too. It definitely sounds doable, but my advice is to start early just so you avoid the traditionally unpredictable Romanian traffic!

  4. Dear Ana! We are at Bran and tomorrow is the big day! thanks from replying, it helped us plan it better. Have a great fall! Drew and Andrea

    1. Great to hear Drew. I've been going to Bran for 17 years now and would definitely recommend you try the apple juice from Mar de Bran, a locally made juice from apples in the orchards you see everywhere, I'll link you their website here http://mardebran.ro/ It's delicious!


blogger template by lovebird