This morning it was time for us to leave Brașov and travel onwards to our next destination, Sighișoara. Train timetables in Romania seem to be quite irregular, so we had a choice of an early train this morning or a late afternoon one which wouldn't get us to Sighișoara until it was almost dark. We decided to go with the earlier train, which involved us leaving our apartment at 8am this morning to walk to the train station in Brașov.
We made it just on time for our train and were able to buy tickets from a machine. We went for first class again and it cost around £12 each. The first class carriage was reasonably comfortable, though the air conditioning was so cold that I wished I'd brought a jumper! It was a scenic journey of around three hours to get to Sighișoara. We travelled through miles of sparsely populated countryside, passing the occasional small town.
As soon as we arrived in Sighișoara and stepped out of the train station, we got our first view of the old town in the distance.
Because we'd caught the morning train, we were too early to check into our guesthouse at the moment, so we decided to walk towards the town centre to kill some time.
We soon found ourselves at a bridge across the river Târnava Mare. On one side we could see the old town...
...while behind us we could see Sighișoara's Romanian Orthodox cathedral.
We didn't want to walk too far with the cases, so we found a cafe just across the river where we were able to sit outside with a drink (and a nice view!) until it was time to start walking towards our guesthouse.
I struggled to find accommodation in Sighișoara when I was making bookings earlier in the year, and so we've ended up staying in a small guesthouse here rather than an apartment. The place we're staying is really nice but when I booked it, it was on the basis that I thought it was within a mile of the train station. It turns out that it is... but a mile in the opposite direction from the train station compared to the rest of the town
The guesthouse is on a bit of a hill, so we've got a nice view from our windows.
We settled in for a while and then set off to see Sighișoara properly without our suitcases.
Sighișoara is another historically Saxon town.
German craftsmen and merchants came and settled in the area in the 12th and 13th centuries.
Sighișoara became an important medieval city and today is a world heritage site because of its well-preserved fortified old town.
As we walked towards the old town, we noticed that there were some serious traffic jams on the main roads into the town.
It turned out there had been some sort of cycle race going on today (it looked like a Romanian version of the Tour de France) and so presumably the roads had been closed.
There was still a lot of cycling related activity going on in the main square when we arrived, which slightly obstructed our view up towards the old town.
Even with the cycling banners, the streets looked really pretty though.
The fortified medieval town was built on top of a hill and is known as the citadel.
We started climbing up towards it...
...and soon had a good view out across the newer part of town.
We emerged at the top of the hill, near Sighișoara's city hall.
From here, we wandered through the colourful streets.
We passed the house where Vlad Dracul, the father of Vlad the Impaler who inspired the character Dracula, was born.
There are lots of towers in the town, but the most impressive one is this huge clock tower.
This was historically the main gate to the city. The tower also used to serve as Sighișoara's town hall.
It's got a very elaborate clock face with figures which looked like they might do something when the clock struck the hour, but we just missed it.
From the clock tower we emerged into a really colourful square.
This white building is known as the Stag House, because of the stag's head attached to its facade.
Down this little street we found the town's Catholic church.
It was built by the Hungarians, who have also historically been an important minority in the town.
The historical defence system in Sighișoara was organised so that each guild was responsible for defending a tower. This was the bootmakers' tower...
..this one, hiding slightly behind a tree, was the tinsmiths' tower...
...and this one was the ropemakers' tower.
This building isn't a tower, but it has a really unusual roof!
As we wandered through the streets, we realised that we weren't actually at the top of the hill after all.
To get right to the top, you have to use this staircase, known as the Scholars' Staircase.
It's an extremely steep staircase, originally built in 1642 to allow people to reach the school and church at the top of the hill more easily during winter, when snow made other routes slippery.
The school is right at the top of the staircase. We were rather out of breath by the time we got there.
There's also a large church on the hilltop.
This is, appropriately enough, called the Church on the Hill Work started on a church here in 1429 and today it's apparently the third largest church in Transylvania.
We spent a while walking around the hill top...
...and enjoying the views.
Then it was back off down the stairs again!
We found a nice restaurant in the square where we could sit outside and get dinner.
I had chicken schnitzel with chips, while Tim had Hungarian goulash, and we shared a bottle of Romanian wine.
For pudding, Tim had an apple crumble and I had chocolate pancakes
It was a lovely place to sit outside
After dinner we climbed back down out of the old town.
The more modern part of town at the bottom of the steps was pretty too...
...and there were still plenty of colourful houses here
We found another Romulus and Remus statue. This definitely seems to be a thing in Romania!
The walk back to the guesthouse (the orange building below) didn't feel quite as long now we knew where we were going. And when we got in, we found that our hosts had left us shots of a Romanian spirit to try Not sure what it's called; it tastes a bit like Croatian rakija and it's very strong!