Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Day 9 - Transylvania

Today we had breakfast at the hotel restaurant (again). The food was good, but we had a different waiter who didn’t speak English and messed up all of our checks. It took a while to get that straightened out, so we ended up leaving for Sinaia a little late.

What was in Sinaia, you ask? Why, that would be Peleş Castle. My student admission fee was 4 lei, and I only had 100 and 50 notes, and two 1 leu notes. Was the woman at the ticket counter willing to break 100? No, of course not. What is it with people in this country and their aversion to breaking large notes, and then the banks GIVING those large notes when people take money out?

So we got our tickets and then had to wait about 10 minutes for the guided tour (in English, yay!) We took the “basic” tour, which included only the ground floor of the castle, and not the first floor. The castle’s construction began in 1875, was completed in 1914, and cost the equivalent of about $US 120 million today. It was the world’s first castle fully operated by electric power (and, in fact, still has its original elevator, which still works). After restitution of the castle to king Michael I of Romania, Peles was opened to the public as a historical monument and museum.

The castle is really more like a palace, with over 170 rooms and 30 bathrooms, many decorated with themes from different areas of the world (i.e. Florentine, Turkish, Moorish, French, Imperial, etc.) A 4,000-piece collection of weapons and armor is also housed at Peleş.

After our tour was over, some people went on the cable car in Sinaia, while the rest of us did a little wandering around the shops on the street. I was able to buy two more presents (last resort choices, though, just in case I can’t find anything better in Bucharest). Then we had lunch at a little restaurant, where I ordered off the children’s menu and got breaded chicken schnitzel and french fries. :-)

The bus ride home was fairly unexciting, except for Alin’s speed-demon driving and his joke about how an orca had been found in one of the rivers in Romania (when he and Florin had been asked about fish as we drove over a river). When we returned the motel in Tutova, we had a (very) late dinner outside, chatted a bit, and went to bed.

Peleş Castle, from the courtyard
Peleş Castle, the fountain in the courtyard
Lila & Amy, sleeping on the way home
A train we had to stop for on the way home

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