November 2019

 In November 2019 Eitan officiated at the European Champions' Cup in Bucharest, Romania, and attended meetings of the European Bridge League Executive.  While Eitan was busy with meetings and the competition I saw a little of Bucharest (Click here for a description and pictures of a visit to Ceausescu's House, and here for a sculpture in central Bucharest) . 

We decided to spend a few days touring after the competition.  We found our guide Catalin Malureanu on the Hametayel site and arranged a three day itinerary. Catalin, who is also the concierge at the Intercontinental Hotel in Bucharest, was a find. Extremely pleasant and helpful, spoke good English and a safe driver.(Catalin Malureanu,

Our first stop was in Sibiu Transylvania, a medieval Saxon town. We arrived there by walking over the Bridge of Lies, an opportunity to tell each other some lies.

The Christmas market was already in full swing and the skating rink almost ready for use. It was fun strolling through the streets. We loved the ‘eyes’ in the attics of the houses, giving us a pleasant feeling of the houses looking at us, but perhaps the original  purpose  was more sinister, giving residents a feeling of constantly being watched.

Sibiu is the 2019 Gastronomic Capital of Europe and we saw a procession of chefs attired in chefs’ caps and white jackets parading through town. This is to promote local gastronomy, but I'm sure our granddaughters will be pleased to see that there was a starbucks.


 Eitan and Catalin decided to forgo the gastronomical delights and to savour local sausages and other local specialties at the Christmas market.
There were 19 different guilds in Sibiu established in the 14th century. Each of the guilds was established in one of the town’s towers and the members were meant to protect the city from invading forces. When concluding their apprenticeship at the carpenter’s guild the carpenters would knock a special nail they had designed into a wood post next to their tower.

We continued to our next stop Sighisoara, a World Heritage site, where we overnighted in surprising luxury.

On an evening stroll we were surprised to see the Capitoline Wolf suckling Romulus and Remus, a present from Rome. It seems the Romans worked the goldmines here in ancient Dacia and people see themselves as descendants of Daco-Romans. The Romanian language is supposed to be very close to Latin.

The following morning Catalin took us on a walk of the medieval citadel. We had seen the clock tower all lit up the previous night.


We paused by a statue of Vlad III the Impaler who was born here.  If the name doesn’t seem familiar Dracula certainly will be. Based on legends about vampires and the devil, Bram Stoker wrote the horror story Dracula, supposedly based on Vlad III, as a collection of diary entries that captured popular imagination worldwide. And we have the T-Shirts to back that up!

SighissoaraSighissoaraDracul's house


If you look above the town square you will see a building to the left partially covered by trees. It is the local high school located at the top of School Hill. Students have to either climb hundreds of covered stairs or walk along a winding pebbled road to reach the school. No electric bicycles.

We couldn’t imagine Israeli children walking to that school. Even so, we were shocked as pupils poured out of class to sit under the trees and smoke.

After walking up the winding path that led to the school and descending the stairs, we were happy to return to the car as Catalin drove us to Bran Castle.

Bran castle is known as Dracula’s Castle fitting Stoker’s description of a castle perched on a high rock. We all walked up the hill to the castle and then Catalin took me around the castle with its many ups and downs.


From there were continued to Brasov. Although Catalin wanted to take us for a walk around the town we had had enough walking for the day and enjoyed our hotel. The houses in Transylvania do not have front doors opening to the street. Rather there is a large wooden gate that opens to a courtyard and from there one enters the house or houses around the courtyard.

Brasov Brasov

The following morning we walked around the ancient city entering and exiting through the picturesque gate. We were disappointed to find both the synagogue and Black Church closed.


We walked through one of the narrowest streets in Europe, so narrow that youngsters like to walk along bracing their feet on the walls. Graffitti and street art is encouraged on parts of the walls. We also saw evidence of an Israeli flag and a swastika.


 The granddaughters have Starbucks - Eitan has KFC (which does not have a branch in Israel). The family always sends photos of themselves by KFC on their travels overseas.  Here's the KFC in Brasov -  by chance the same day daughter Vered sent us a picture of KFC in Shenzhen.


  Our last stop for the day was at the magnificent castle at Peles (pronounced Pelesh) castle in Sinaia. We particularly wanted to visit as many years ago we had a dog named Peles.
 Peles castle


Peles castle is both lovely to view from the outside and lavishly decorated inside.

Built by King Carol I in the late 1800’s, it served as the summer residence of the royal family until confiscated by the communist regime.

The castle has central heating as well as a novel air conditioning system: Fresh cool air is brought through pipes from the river below and it works very well.

Beautiful Murano chandeliers, stained glass windows, walls covered with silks, paintings and statues decorate the beautiful castle.

The Arms Room with over 4000 weapons was particularly impressive, even for people who aren’t into swords. We were very pleased to have Catalin guide us and tell us about the modern features and history of each room we visited.

From there we returned to Bucharest braving the late horrendous afternoon traffic. A very satisfying tour.

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In 2006 Doreen went on a hiking trek in Romania. Read her accounts in Granny Climbs a Mountain and A Trek in Romania