More lovely scenery as we headed south through Transilvania – such a lovely country to be driven through and the guide is great in taking the scenic routes which I love.
Then a brief stop at Cluj-Napoca – one of the former capitals of Romania and still one of the largest towns as it now houses a lot of the best universities. We only had a little time to walk around here but I really liked the vibe of the place and would have been happy to stay a night. It was currently housing the Transylvanian International Film Festival – hence the red carpet outside the opera house and I couldn’t resist photographng the Transilvania Bank sign. What is quite entertaining – to me at least – is that no-one here including my otherwise very knowledgeable guide has ever heard of the Rocky Horror Picture Show!
Then we headed for the salt mines of Salina Turda. Having enjoyed the ones in Poland near Krakow when I visited with Jo last year, I was looking forward to something similar as these are touted to be the biggest in the world! They were indeed deep but for some reason they had made the base into a children’s playground thing with a boating pool and Ferris wheel thereby completely negating the grandeur of the place. A real shame in my opinion but when I was not looking at that but wandering down the salt tunnels and then looking at the salt stalactites and sediment and the salt “waterfall” it was impressive.
Finally a stop at the lovely Sibiu – a gorgeous old town that looks exactly like you expect it to. It was a Saturday night so was very busy especially as it was hosting an international street food fare in the main market. The bridge over the road which is the entry to Sibiu citadel is called the Bridge of Lies – those accused of witchcraft (women only of course) were asked to stand on the bridge while they answered questions; the belief was that if the lied the bridge would shake (I’m sure with some help from some hysterical villagers?!) and then you were declared a witch and thrown on to the road below. Delightful. The little three house bookstall is a place where you can leave books you no longer want and take those you want to read – very communal.
I enjoyed wandering around the food festival just for the fun of it including the giant skillet of sea snails and the ad for chicken wings that suggests even the chickens recommend them! This part of the world was formerly part of Saxony and so has a strong Germanic influence in building design and also in the food traditions. My meal in the local wine keller could easily have been served to me in Bavaria and so reminded me of things I grew up eating!
In the morning we took a walk around the small and large square of Sibiu which was much quieter by then as it was Sunday. Huge variety of architecture from Middle Ages to Belle Époque and an interesting “Devil pole” (actually it is an original gargoyle head and base filled with a wooden pool and decorated by the blacksmith’s Guild to show what kind of work they could do – nothing to do with the devil really!). Because of its history Sibiu has a lot of churches – orthodox, RC, Reformed, Lutheran to name a few. As it was Pentecost they were all very full.