While we got to the airport early and checked in on time, our flight to Bucharest, Romania became later and later, putting pressure on our plan of getting in Brașov within daylight hours. We booked an Air Serbia codeshare on Air Tarog (the Romanian national carrier), and Air Tarog’s updates on the delay (or lack therefore) rivaled those we received years ago from TAP Airlines flying back from Portugal to the US. And there was nothing for us to but sit by the gate because there was no premium lounge with reciprocity with United. We boarded 30 minutes late, then sat on the bus to plane for 15 minutes in the heat, then sat on the hot plane for another 30 minutes, left an hour late. The only solace was that an entitled family in head to go Dolce & Gabbana who cut in the line to board the plane and refused to gate check their bag (but ultimately had to anyways) got the privilege of sitting on the hot plane for longer than we did since they cut in line. Once on the plane, the flight attendants continued to offer no explanation about anything, other than the fact the AC wouldn’t work until the engines started, and then we just sat there and sat there. We were worried the flight would get further delayed due to a crew change condition or a medical emergency onboard due to the heat and no AC, which had also happened with TAP Airlines. Meanwhile we had scheduled a driver pickup from Bucharest at 530PM (so that we would ve getting to Brașov by 8PM), with the pickup a generous 1 hour after our flight was supposed to land. Since we didn’t have wi-fi at this point on the flight, there was nothing to do but wait and hope the time was made up.
It wasn’t. On the other side, even with all those delays, we made up time because the Bucharest airport was a breeze with easy passport control, and bags coming in the 1st and 5th position, which was lucky. While Brendan waited for the bags, I ran ahead to try to find the car service, and thankfully they were still there with a sign for us and had a driver. All in all, we arrived 15 minutes after we were supposed to pick up our ride to Brașov.
We rode in a nice car with only one other passenger up front who was clearly Romanian and chatted with the driver the whole time. We thankfully were then able to just enjoy the ride, and paid very little for the transport since it was a shared ride with other people (it felt private). The trip only took about 2 hours due to speedy driving, though the driver would not put on his seat belt, so we suffered frequent beeping notifications for about the first 10 minutes after each time the car stopped.
The scenery was beautiful, especially as we started to come into the mountains closer to Brașov. We finally arrived at the Radisson Blu around 8PM, thankfully around when we had originally planned. I would highly recommend M&M Express transport as they not only waited for us while late, but were easy to communicate to via WhatsApp, and allowed online booking. We tried using them on our return trip to Bucharest, but it was too pricey given we weren’t going to the airport and needed a private car, since that’s not the normal route they serve.
We really enjoyed the Radisson Blu and found it to be a step up from the Hotel Indigo in Belgrade. The hotel staff was super friendly and perhaps a bit overly helpful, telling us everything to know about the hotel like the location of the gym, all the bards, encouraging us (again) to eat at the hotel restaurant. We reminded them that we were only in town for 2 days and we were not planning on spending a ton of time at the hotel. The room was modern and very nice with a great corner view of the Brașov sign on Mount Tampa.
We were already enjoying the cooler temperatures, which were a nice relief from the unseasonably hot Belgrade. The AC also worked great.
After refreshing ourselves, we ventured out for dinner into some light rain stopping at a highly recommended soup/stew restaurant, but they were packed and couldn’t guarantee we could get in. The policy was to literally hang around and wait, they couldn’t give us timing, and couldn’t guarantee they could even seat us. At the same time we were waiting to talk to a hostess, a strange, young guy came up out of nowhere saying he had been waiting for a table, but had not checked in with the hostess and was nowhere around when we walked up. We told him that if he was there before us, he would obviously be first in line. But we found the whole thing bizarre, like it was the first time he had ever decided to eat at a restaurant, and since there was a possibility we would not be able to dine there at all, we decided to keep looking.
We ended up at Sergiana, a traditional Romanian restaurant complete with folk singers and dancers in an adjoining dance hall (we stayed away from that). It was already around 9PM and the place closed at 10PM, but we got sat quickly and ordered 2 Ursa beers with the requisite large sparkling water. Ursa means “bear” in Romanian.
We had a lovely interaction with a young worker when I asked how he was doing, and he said he was having girlfriend problems. “She was frustrating”, to which CJ and I hand gestures to each other, which made him laugh, hopefully brightening his evening a little.
We ordered the Greek salad while Brendan also ordered the tripe soup, which was a local delicacy he was interested in trying but it turned out to taste too much like tripe. Ha. For the entrees, I ordered the wild boar chef’s special while Brendan ordered the minced meat wrapped in cabbage with sour cream (sarmale). We tried the local fruit brandy (palincă) which was plum flavored, and an apple tart and crepe each for dessert.
The rain had stopped once we left the restaurant so we decided to stroll the quiet city at 11PM. We enjoyed the walk to see the Black Church even once the rain picked back up and caught us in a downpour. The lightning and thunder tour through the mountains echoing throughout the city, casting an eerie and ethereal light over a now quiet and empty old Brașov old town. Our umbrellas kept us mostly dry although eventually the dampness ushered us back to the hotel. We slept very well in a properly cooled room – 17C vs 21C makes a big difference. After even just one night, Brașov definitely exuded the feeling of fernweh. It felt comfortable, and like coming home that we belonged even though we had just arrived.