As the trip begins, students Austin Keys and Taylor Vincent share about the first full day in Romania. The day was spent visiting cultural landmarks, learning a bit about Romanian history, and, of course, indulging in the local cuisine. You know what they say: When in Rom….ania!
After two long travel days, everyone finally had a time to rest their eyes at the hotel. Breakfast was the first time the group was all together. Jokes were exchanged about the midnight crowing rooster and loud barking dogs throughout the night. Dr. Catalin Teodoriu arrived at the hotel and we loaded up for a day trip up to the mountain town of Sinaia, north of our home Ploiesti. The car ride was longer than expected due to extra traffic. Sinaia is a popular weekend spot where Romanians enjoy the fresh mountain air with family and friends. Dr. Catalin’s welcoming stories were enough to keep everyone entertained, for when the aggressive Romanian driving style was not enough. Along the journey, we passed through Campina (home to a refinery, and other oil & gas businesses), Posada (a narrow valley spot where the Romanians had once fought off the attacking Ottomans), and many traditional houses which line the rivers and valleys.
The Peles Castle was the first stop during our time in Sinaia.
The Castle was built by King Carol I and paid for from his personal funds. The Castle is a masterpiece in the German neo-Renaissance style. The architecture also includes French and Italian styles. The Castle has a total of 160 rooms including an armory, royal library, royal bedroom, music room, theatre hall, a concert hall with a special double-sided organ, plus almost a mirror room, and an imperial apartment.dozen “secret doors”. King Carol I died in 1914 and the Castle has been opened to the Romanian people ever since. Second stop was a self-guided tour (led by our very knowledgeable Dr. Catalin) of the second castle on the estate, the Pelisor. It was home to the heir King Ferdinand and Queen Marie, featuring a mere 70 rooms.
Lunch at Carol Gastro Bierhaus was our first restaurant experience of the trip. The most popular dish ordered was the chicken schnitzel, but the star of the meal was the famous Romanian doughnuts known as papanasi. Before returning home, we visited a Monastery, Orthodox church, the Casino Sinaia, and the Sinaia train station to wrap up our time in Sinaia. The Casino is no longer used as a gambling destination but includes several massive ballrooms, a 400-seat theatre, and an art gallery. The Casino is still used to host social events and guided tours, although the underground tunnel to the nearby Hotel Palace (a nearby hotel) is no longer in service. Lastly, we took advantage of the clear sky and drove up to the Ploiesti winery. The entire town’s lights were on display and beautiful.
Day 1 was a huge success!