Our overnight train trip last night went well. It was such a fun old kath-thunk-a-thunk train that it lolled the kids to bed quickly. The train got super hot so at some point we opened the berth door to let in some cool air and it felt much better. This, of course, woke Avi who cooed and babbled and wanted to be awake. After a bit an attendent walked by and we mimicked fanning ourselves and pointed to the heater. He seemed to understand and went down the hall. The room slowly cooled off and we all went back to sleep. Bethany and I were awoken around 2am for the passports, but it went quickly. The Bulgarians came by and stamped them in the train, a few minutes later the Romanians came by and took our passports. After about 10 minutes he returned them…and another American guys, but we gave that back to him. I then asked the grumpy attendant with pointy talky if he wakes us for our stop at Bucharest and he mummbled something, mimed knocking, and then said, “sleep sleep” so I went to sleep. In the morning we had a kock at the door and the guy yelled, “Bucharest, five minutes” WHAT!!?? With a lot of hustle we made it off the train. Zoe was so tired…she doesn’t like being woken suddenly…but she did so good. Once on the platform we plopped them into the strollers and headed into Bucharest Nord train station.

We had some time before getting the rental car and were starved since we didn’t get the chance to eat our packed breakfast on the train. The first thing we saw were the golden arches, so McDonalds here we come. Zoe woke enough to eat some of a muffin and eggs. Avi was bright eyed and happy, but Bethany and I were dragging. No hair brushing, no teeth brushing. yuck. The rental car guy said to meet him out front and after some calls back and forth we found him and got into our kind of run down white chevy aveo. Driving in Bucharest is not as insane and rude as Sofia, but there aren’t very many lights so at intersections people just line up in crazy ways until they all get the gumption to go. We drove in a direction that seemed ‘out of town’ for a while until finding a petrol station and getting an atlas. There was also a nice guy at the station that gave me some direction. Overall, Bucharest seemed nice and liveable. Drivers appeared to be polite and there are a lot of modern construction projects going on. After an hour driving around we were finally on route 1 north toward Sinaia. Avi fell asleep promptly in the car – he again has a forward facing seat. This time it’s blue checks and old school with a metal frame. Seems comfy for him. Zoe has a baby blue seat similar to hers at home. Though she was so tired, she would not fall asleep during our 2 hour drive She enjoys rolling the window down with her foot, and keeps asking if we are on the freeway. The rule is that the windows are up on the freeway and can be down in town if we are slow. The ‘freeway’ here has two lanes in either direction with infrequent lights, but also people turning onto it…so more like a parkway back home. As we drove north the scenery changed alot. From city, to flat farmland, to rolling hills, to mountains with winding streams.

Once we got to the town of Sinaia we followed signs for Peles Castle. This was Carol I’s summer palace and also has the Pelsinor Castle – the next Queen Marie’s summer castle – on the same grounds. They are from the 1800’s but designed in an older style with open timbers, lots of wooden decoration, and cool turrets. Very awesome looking, but quite different. The inside of Peles Castle is super ornate, almost to the point of being gawdy with huge golden everything, lots of wooden carving, and ornate decor. super fancy. Both kids struggled with the tour of Peles. Zoe was tired and complaining. She rode my back for a bit until Avi completely lost it, and then Bethany carried her until she fell asleep. I took Avi and it was obvious he needed to nurse. I tried to hold him off with the pacifier, but that wouldn’t happen. SO, I nursed and walked. Great. Nothing like nursing a baby while touring a castle. He was quick and I kept as discreet as possibly at the back of the blob of people. I tried to hide behind Bethany most of the time, but of course there were fancy mirrors that the guide would direct people to look at and who was there? me! yippee. Not that you can see my boob or anything, but it’s just not a normal sight – woman nursing while walking in a castle isn’t on everyones list of photo ops. Avi was super happy when he was done and enjoyed the rest of the castle. We plopped down on some grass after the tour to feed him real food and let him crawl around, then went to the Pelsinor castle. Both Bethany and I preferred this one. It was smaller, more intimate, and we got to see the bedrooms that all had very unique floor plans with built in areas, platform areas, nooks for desks, and balconies. It was also not crazy ornate but decorated in art nouveau style. different and fun. We each toured separately so one could stay with the kids. Zoe was asleep in the stroller and Avi needed to play. Funny, though, we both picked the same bedroom as our favorite. It was the governesses room.

Back in the car we drove on to Brasov. We were up in the Transylvanian mountains now. It’s gorgeous passing small towns built into the valleys along the river. The architecture is unique – there are lots of tiny houses each with their own ‘munsters’ style edifice. The square turret is popular even on one story shacks. When we got to Brasov we drove to the old town area – our guesthouse was inside the original city walls. It took a lot of circling to find a parking spot. We are staying in Rinda’s Room – a room at an American’s house that she fixed up for guests. It’s great. She’s been here for 10 years! The kids will each share a bed with me and Bethany. In the late afternoon we walked about the old town. The town looks a bit more modern than the tiny villages we’ve been driving through, but still very old….very European looking. We saw the famous Black church and found the main square where we had dinner. Bethany tried the “Brasov Special” and it was delicous. A bunch of meat and spices in a schlopp of some kind on potatoes. So far it was the best Romanian food we’ve had. Otherwise the foods been bland and plane – meat, potatoes, cabbage. nothing special. Zoe enjoyed chasing and feeding all the birds in the square and Avi just squealed watching her. Back at the guesthouse the guest played in the nice garden for a while til it got a bit dark out and cold. We went inside and got them each a nice long bath. They were filthy. Then it was off to bed. Bethany and I then went up to visit with Rinda for an hour or so. It was very nice.

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