Today we were due to leave Bucharest and head north towards the town of Brașov. However, Romanian train timetables seem quite irregular and so our train wasn't leaving Bucharest until the afternoon. That meant we had time to do a bit more sight-seeing in Bucharest, and there was one more sight which I particularly wanted to see but which we hadn't managed to fit into yesterday because it's located a bit outside the city centre: Bucharest's "Arcul de Triumf".
The Arcul de Triumf is located near a metro station called Aviatorilor so metro seemed like the best way to get there. We walked to Piața Romană, the metro station nearest to where we were staying, and bought our tickets. What I hadn't quite thought through was that this was a Monday morning and it seems like Bucharest's rush hour is later than we have in the UK. When the metro arrived it was extremely full and we only just managed to squeeze our way on! I hadn't expected it to be so busy, because we were travelling from the city centre to the outskirts, but it felt like a lot of people must live in the centre of town and commute to offices further out to work. Luckily we only had a couple of stops to go, so we survived the crush and were soon out in the open air at Aviatorilor.
Once we were off the metro, it didn't take us long to find what we had come to see
A triumphal arch was first built here in 1878, to celebrate Romanian independence. This first attempt was a wooden structure, which was eventually replaced by this more solid version in 1936.
It certainly looks rather similar to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, but Bucharest has historically been referred to as the Paris of the East, so maybe it's not too surprising
Unfortunately the arch is in the middle of an extremely busy traffic junction and so we couldn't get any closer to it. While we were admiring it though, we caught sight of a church in the distance.
This is the Cașin Church, which is dedicated to the archangels Michael and Gabriel.
The arch is also not far away from a large park, called Herăstrău Park. Unfortunately we didn't have enough time to explore it today, but it looked like it would be pretty.
We caught the metro back to our apartment, packed up our stuff and checked out, before walking a mile or so across Bucharest to the Gara de Nord. Once there, we needed to buy our train tickets to Brașov. Romania seems a bit more modern than Bulgaria and it was possible to buy the tickets from a machine rather than having to queue for a ticket desk. Having learned from our experiences in Bulgaria last week, we decided to pay for first class. I'm not sure what the price difference was, but we ended up paying 70 lei each for the journey (around £13).
We found the correct platform for our train, but we were a bit early and it wasn't there yet. We were travelling over lunchtime and beginning to feel a bit peckish, so Tim paid a visit to the station McDonalds to get us something to eat on the train. We were therefore in the slightly surreal situation of sitting in Romanian first class while eating chips from brown paper bags First class was quite nice and spacious and, unlike Bulgarian trains, there was air-conditioning. The seats were laid out airline style rather than being divided into compartments, which also seemed a bit more modern.
The journey from Bucharest to Brașov took just under three hours and it was an unexpectedly scenic journey, as we travelled past forests and mountains.
When we arrived in Brașov we had a bit of a walk ahead of us, because the train station is a couple of miles outside the town. As we made our way down one of the main streets towards our apartment, we caught sight of a large sign on one of the hills above us.
Not quite Hollywood, but still quite impressive
We found our apartment and checked in. At £35.50 per night, this one was another bargain
We've got a spacious kitchen/living area...
...a separate bedroom...
...and what looks like quite a posh bath.
There's also a pretty good view out of our bedroom window
By the time we'd settled in and gone out to get food it was getting dark, but this photo shows the hills behind where we're staying.
Brașov looks like it's going to be a really pretty town and we're looking forward to exploring it properly tomorrow