Most people who know me know that I've been on a quest to find the perfect cup of coffee. Now, I wouldn't say that I'm a huge connoisseur or anything (I still can't stomach the taste of an espresso shot without grimacing), but a good, silky cappuccino can rock my world better than few other things can. So when I saw this sign on the notice board of Kismet Dao hostel in Brasov, Romania, I knew what my itinerary would revolve around the next day.
What actually sold me was the fact that someone had scribbled that info on the card, it was not part of the print. Sure, it could mean the roasters had written that themselves, but I wanted to believe that some backpacker had decided to pass on the euphoria that only a really great coffee can bestow upon you.
Maybe the coffee talk is getting out of hand.
Someone I had met at a previous hostel had recommended Kismet Dao highly. I reached the city rather late, around 9pm, and 9pm in Romania in the winter means the busiest part of the city, Republicii Street, looks like this.
Brasov is a city right in the centre of Romania. I did find it vaguely similar to Sibiu, but it seemed much larger and more 'big city'-like. Like I mentioned in earlier posts, Indians can only spend 5 days in Romania including the travel days. So, because I entered through Timisoara and planned to leave through Bucharest (because I had a flight from Thessaloniki in a week and couldn't go in any other direction), my trip was rather tight. The reason Brasov had found its way into my itinerary was its proximity to the famous Bran Castle, also known as Dracula Castle (which I later found out, after being thoroughly disappointed, was for touristic purposes rather than historical purposes :/ ).
So anyway, because I had only 5 days (4.5 if I wanted to be safe), I was hopping from one place to the next in a maddening way. I had spent the last 5 or so hours on a bus from Sibiu, my legs were cramped and restless and I really wanted burn off the excess energy and went for a walk.
Did you know Brasov has its very own Hollywood sign?
Looking for a free walking tour didn't quite work out (they only have tours in the winter if enough people call and request for one because of how cold it is), so I was left to fend for myself and figure things out on my own.
The Black Church (it's the tower you can see at the back) is the main Gothic monument in the country. It is also the largest of its kind anywhere in the region.
Brasov has a Black Tower and a White Tower. These were two watch towers in the city that stood to protect the cities from attacking the city walls. The White Tower is called so because it was painted white, while the Black Tower's name comes from the fact that the tower was blackened when it was blackened by a fire that was caused by lightning. Hiking up the hill up to either of the towers (and the up the towers themselves for a panoramic view of the city) was an activity suggested to me by the hostel staff, something I couldn't do inspite of really wanting to because it was night and it was through the woods, and even though Brasov is said to be one of the safest tourist cities in the world, hiking 20 mins through foresty hills isn't the smartest thing to do. Also, bears.
Brasov's christmas market isn't Romania's largest (that distinction goes to Sibiu), but it doesn't compromise on charm.
The sun was shining, and the buzz of so many people milling about just made it all that much lovelier.
Republicii Street is Brasov's main pedestrian street. It is a nice pretty street, lined with cafes and restaurants- plenty of food options, tattoo parlours (for some reason), souvenir shops and free wifi ;) It was in this part of the city, though, that I was literally surrounded by Roma kids (the gypsies). They didn't go so far as to try to open my bag (like we experienced several times in Rome some years back), but they did very much tug at it, and my hands. Thankfully I'm more than used to dealing with street urchins back home in Delhi and I knew exactly how to shake them off without being rude.
Now, I usually don't like to hurry through cities so much, but I had very little time (barely 8-9 waking hours, part of which I spent in Bran Castle) and I was on a mission. Mission Brasov's Best Coffee. And did I find it?
Indeed I did.
Just a few minutes off Republicii street, a few minutes from the Main Square, lies Cafeteca. Saying it was the best coffee I've ever had wouldn't be far from the truth. It was smooth and luscious and absolutely perfect. The fact that it was bitterly cold outside helped, but I think it could be touted the best anyway- any day, any time of the year. It was so good, I ordered another, but then, I don't know how to leave well enough alone and asked for a French Press coffee instead, got distracted and let it brew too long, and then realised that I was actually craving a head of foamy milk, which you obviously don't get with a French Press Coffee. Still delicious, but I should have just ordered another Cappuccino.I didn't get to experience any city in Romania all that much because of time and visa constraints and the lack of walking tours anywhere I went. I did see enough to intrigue me though, and sometime in life, I do wish to go back, particularly to the northern parts that I just couldn't fit in this time. Signing off with a happy sign I saw at the hostel, until next time, adio! :)