After successfully traversing the northern route of the Transfagarasan Pass, the road to Sibiu was an easy if congested drive. Having never been there before this was an ideal opportunity to get a quick introduction by spending an introductory evening there before heading back in the direction of Rimnicu Valcea for a late lunch.
Finding the hotel proved to be the only challenge of the day. The first person we asked for directions appeared to be less than sober and the directions consequently proved to be less than useful. Being directed down a one-way street is fine until you realise that the traffic is flowing towards you. Flouting a key male rule, we persevered and asked another person (this time with a lower alcohol content) for directions. This cunning strategy worked a treat and we were checked in to the hotel Imparatul Romanilor (EUR 60 for a double room including breakfast). This is a remarkable hotel if you are comfortable with a good, old-fashioned hotel with lots of antique looking furniture rather than something ultra modern, and it is situated right in the centre. It also has the only sliding glass ceiling in Romania that we found after taking a tactical explore of the hotel after breakfast. The bonus was the free wireless connection in the reception area, so time is not standing still.
Checked in, we set out for a first look of Sibiu. I have to confess to having been pleasantly surprised. It is a city with a proper city centre comprising of three elegant and interlinked squares. There is a healthy collection of bars and restaurants with terraces giving the centre a very friendly feel that we soon sampled to recover from the exhausting photo taking frenzy that had just occurred. The sun shone, the fountains jetted and a cool bottle of Silva Black was just what the doctor ordered.
Walking around the centre you quickly realise that there is an unusual architectural feature visible on many of the tiled roofs. Many of the roofs have two or more ventilation holes (many with windows) that look very like eyes. Two is the norm but there are examples with three and four, and a couple bringing Cyclops to mind. Some research (good old Lonely Planet) reveals that this is a feature unique to Sibiu.
In the evening we went for another walk around the city and found a good Italian restaurant in the corner Piata Mica. The name escapes me now but it was in the far corner and served very good Italian cuisine. We looked for Pizzerie (the Lonely Planet recommendation) but it looked very busy so we opted for a more relaxed option. The food and the service were great so we need to go back to find out what it was called. A quiet beer on a terrace on the way home rounded the day off nicely.
Breakfast the next morning was buffet style and a variation of continental with some warm eggs and sausages thrown in. The coffee flowed and the selection of cheese and salami was enough to cater for most tastes. Another walk around the squares ensued and it was enough to whet our appetite for a longer visit to really explore the city. Watch this space …