Hiking with a husky
On 5th August, we packed up to leave Bran to do the relatively short 30 minute drive to Brașov. I kept debating whether to quickly take Tiger to Dino Parc which is in Rasov and on the way, but I am glad we didn't in the end as I think we would have been pushed for time. Our aim was to check in and get ready to meet photographer Raluca at 5pm. In the end we arrived in Brașov at midday but drove around in circles for a bit before we could find somewhere to park. In the end we parked on Strada Prundhului around 500m from our Airbnb on Strada George Baritiu. This meant two trips back and forth to the car, the first with Tiger on my back in the Deuter child carrier and me rolling our giant silver suitcase down the road (thankfully the pavement was ok and the case has good wheels). The second trip was back with Tiger still in the child carrier and we took the Doona buggy loaded up with shopping bags! Thankfully there wasn't a third trip for the travel cot as our Airbnb hosts, Sorin and Anca, had left us one. Phew!
Our new home for two nights for £62 was an apartment in the Old Town, literally a stone's throw away from the main square in Brașov. It was just perfect for what we needed with the only niggles being the parking situation and the fact that it was a very old building with no lift and we were on the second floor. Cue me manhandling the heavy silver suitcase across cobble stones, through various doors, and up two flights of stairs all with Tiger on my back! Still, you really could not fault the location and it was so tranquil. We had a lovely large living space with two single beds and a sofa bed, a bijou kitchen with high stools, and a nice bathroom with powerful shower. We also had a washing machine downstairs, which we did a few loads in and was super helpful. As usual I was eyeing up the apartment for where Tiger could sleep and was so pleased to figure out that they had a lovely big hallway with a door and a small window I used a throw to curtain off. Bingo! After all the excitement of actually arriving, we both had naps (it's becoming a habit!) before heading out with photographer Raluca.
Our walk around Brașov with Raluca seemed to be mainly me chasing Tiger around and I was shattered by the end of it, but beautiful photos below! I had booked Raluca through Airbnb experiences and she cost £46.50.
Tiger slept well in her hallway (!) and I had to get her up at 8am the next day, 6th August, we had another Airbnb experience to do.... hiking up Tâmpa mountain which is part of the Eastern Carpathians (960m and 400m above the city) to the big Brașov sign with guide Sorin and his white Siberian Husky, Dante. The day before I had looked upwards and thought "wow that looks a long way up, am I up to this?" but in for a penny, in for a pound. Sorin and I had corresponded on the Airbnb messenger quite a bit so he knew I'd have a wriggly 15kgs on my back and promised we would take it slowly with lots of stops.
We met at Piata Sfatului at just past 9am and off we went. There are apparently a number of routes to the top but the route we took was called Gabony's stairs, apparently carved by a local man. For me it was a challenging hike, with a fair few steps, and I haven't hiked for a really long time, but was so pleased that I made it and carried Tiger the whole way up.
Sorin was just a charming young man whose main job was working in a factory making car parts for the past seven years, but his factory has closed down during the pandemic so he is now looking for another job, as well as doing his Airbnb experiences. We had a good chat about how the pandemic had panned out in Romania, and how he had only been allowed to walk Dante locally, and how everybody had needed to fill in a form on their phones to go to work, to walk their dog, to go to the shops and so on, something we didn't have in England. These were stringently enforced and, in a country where the average monthly wage is around 400 euro, the fines were huge at over 1000 euro! He had recently hiked Tâmpa with a Moroccan guy but apart from him, I was only his second guest since the lockdown.
At the top we stood right next to the Brașov sign and had a panoramic view of the city, beautiful! I had already decided the day before that we were definitely taking the cable car down as I am definitely far slower hiking down than up, and I was happy to call it a day. Sorin, bless him, tried to insist that he reimburse me 50 lei (£9) versus the 130 lei (£24) the experience had cost... of course I told him don't be so silly, but it was terribly sweet of him. So we bid Sorin and Dante goodbye, and jumped in the cable car which took 3 minutes down and cost 10 lei (£2). I kept my MapMyRun and Strada going an in total we did 12km by the time we got back to the Airbnb! Tiger was knackered (and all she'd had to do was be carried!) and I was too so we both napped before going on the swings, sandpit and slide in the playground and a very last walk around the Old Town as the sun was setting.
All in all, we loved Brașov and our time spent with Raluca and Sorin (and of course Dante the dog) made it all the more special.