Our last morning dawned bright and early, finding us back on the road towards our last destination. We had an afternoon flight out from Bucharest, and had one more stop to squeeze in on our drive to the airport.
The town of Sinaia is tucked into the Carpathian mountains and full of old buildings and castles with gorgeous Bavarian architecture. It looks like a little fairytale dream world. As we wound up the little streets of the town, set like switchbacks on the mountainside, I spotted one gorgeous, old abandoned building that I just had to stop for pictures of.
Past there, I spotted the monastery I had seen online, and while not the castle we were looking for at the moment, I decided it was meant to be and stopped. It turned out to be a great choice. The grounds to the monastery were, of course, beautiful, but the real treasure of this stop lay inside the church.
The front door was open and we could hear singing within. Not gospel, whimsy singing, but a deep man’s voice, singing out a prayer of some type. We went in, and stood within, amongst a few other people listening to the singing and watching. I found it interesting inside, that the men and women were segregated from each other, women on one side of the aisle, men on the other. One of my friends is a guy, and when he made to stand on the same side as us, I had to give him a quick shove and point him to his side! I wanted to observe, not offend!
We stayed there for a good five to ten minutes, listening and watching the priest (if this is not his appropriate title, I’m sorry!) go about his business. He went behind a partition and returned, swinging a lit lantern or incense, all the while another man kept right on singing. I am not religious at all, I do not believe there is a god, but I will say, there is something incredibly, and almost magical when you get to listen to one of these ceremonies. I stumbled upon one at a monastery in Crete as well, with the old monks singing there too. I absolutely love them, and could just sit and listen forever…
After a period, we left, and went back outside. Just in time as it would turn out, several buses were unloading out front and everyone was heading for the church. We got out of there quickly. We resumed our search for the castle, but the GPS took us to a parking lot on the otherside of the monastery, up to a footpath at the edge of it and told us to drive down it. There were no signs for the castle. Confused, we turned around, went back, tried a different route, no luck. Eventually we followed the GPS back to the parking lot, and as I pulled into it, I noticed a small sign high up on the light pole at the entrance, hand painted, that named the castle. Go figure!!
We parked and walked down the foot path. It was a good walk, but altogether really not that long. We came upon some little stalls along the path, with people just setting up for the day. A man with some rugs caught our eye, but we decided to look seriously at those on the way back. Who wants to carry a rug to a castle?
When we finally arrived at the little valley that is home to Peleș Castle, we were speechless for a moment. The castle is beautiful on its own, but in that setting it was breathtakingly gorgeous. The valley is full of tall, wild grasses and flowers, completely surrounded by forest, and in the distance? Snow covered mountains. An absolute fairy tale, it was so incredible, and easily one of, if not the most, beautiful castles I have seen yet.
After taking a ton of pictures, we walked further up the path, to some more different buildings in the same style. These seemed to be a hotel of sorts, with a restaurant and terrace view of the castle and its valley. We were all in agreement, what an incredible place to have a wedding or honeymoon!
We couldn’t have finished Romania off with a better stop. Happily, we finished the drive to the airport uneventfully, and sadly, got on the airplane home to England. Romania had been an absolutely incredible vacation, unlike anything Western Europe has to offer (or at least that I’ve found). I can not recommend it enough! It is so cheap and affordable, an easy adventure with gorgeous scenery and buildings.