Friday, 27-03-2015 & Saturday, 28-03-2015.
Days 219 & 220.
Our time in Brasov was winding down, which meant our time in Romania was nearing an end. But we still had a few places to go and some people to meet.
Brasov Neolog Synagogue
Romania is a largely Eastern Orthodox Christian, but, as we saw with Brasov's Black Church (which is Lutheran) other religions can be found in the area, and one of those is Jewish. The only synagogue in Brasov, the Brasov Neolog Synagogue, dates back to 1901. The building, which is near Strada Sforii (one of the narrowest streets in Europe) is set a little back off of Strada Cerbululi, and the exterior is quite striking. I believe it was restored in 2001 on its 100-year anniversary.
We were interested in the history of the synagogue, but the woman who met us at the door didn't pay much attention to us after she told us to pay the mandatory 5 lei donation. So we just poked around a bit. It was as striking on the inside as it was on the outside.
The synagogue advertised an Anne Frank exhibit, and we were interested in this because we plan on visiting the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam later on our trip. However, once inside we found the exhibit a little lackluster. It was just a series of gloss-coated foam-core sheets lining the inside of the temple. The information on them wasn't anything a person couldn't have gotten from Wikipedia. But then something interesting happened ...
We'd entered right after a large group of students. As we looked at the exhibit, they seated themselves in the benches and an adult (presumably their teacher) lectured them in Romanian. Then, when she was finished, they watched a short (15 minutes or so) video about the life of Anne Frank, which was a decent little documentary. I don't think we would have seen the video if the students hadn't been there, so that made the visit worthwhile.
On the way back to the hotel (we had to check out and get to the train station), we stopped by a nice little coffee and tea shop by the name of Tipografia for some coffee, tea, and a snack to keep us satisfied until we got back to Bucharest later that evening. Then we hustled off to collect our luggage, take a (reasonably priced) taxi to the train station, and catch the train back to Bucharest.
After a short, uneventful ride back to Bucharesti Nord, we intended to catch a taxi to take us to our hotel. At the train station, there are two computerized kiosks that help you call a taxi, and both of them were broken. So we thought we'd try our hand at hailing one, hoping to get one that wouldn't rip us off this time, but there were no taxis around.
A woman named Christina was also trying to hail a taxi, and she finally resorted to calling a reputable company on her cell phone. She was kind enough to call one for us as well and even insisted we take the first one that arrived.
We checked into the hotel and ate dinner at the adjacent Berarie Gambrinus, a beer house that was founded in 1901, before retiring for the evening.
Our Last Day in Romania
On our last in Romania, we checked out of our hotel (and left our bags there), and met our friends Rob and Tracey along with their son in the lobby. We were all going on an adventure on this rainy day in Bucharest. We walked to the subway and took it a few stops, then walked to a tram station (where we had to wait in the rain for a while) and took a tram to Shaormeria Banesa, the best kebab joint in Bucharest, where we met our mutual friend Talon and his son.
We hung out there eating our kebabs for a little while, then retreated from the rain to Talon's place (which was nearby, thankfully) for a little while. The adults talked travel, adventure, and visas while the kids got some much-needed video game time.
Sooner than we would have liked, we had to head back to the hotel and collect our bags. So it was tram to subway to car. We had a late evening flight that would get us in to Spain right around Midnight (after, we hoped, so we wouldn't lose one of our Schengen days). So when it was delayed by an hour, we were actually relieved.
We were flying on Vueling, a Spanish budget airline. It was our 31st flight since we'd started this adventure nine months prior, and it was easily the most uncomfortable flight we've taken yet. It was like flying back in the U.S.—the economy seats didn't have much room and the food was all pay-to-eat. And, oddly enough, they were playing the Velvet Undergound over the main cabin speakers before take off.
The flight was relatively short (four hours) and reasonably easy, even despite the relative discomfort of the seats.
And then we were in Spain.