On March 10, 2015, I finished my 800+ kilometer bike tour across Poland, Ukraine and Romania. My final destination (the walled city of Brasov, Romania) would be my home for the following two months. I rented a small, second-story studio apartment in the center of town for just $400 USD per month and quickly began my new “life” in the city.
The photo above shows the Brasov, Romania skyline as I cycled into town on the 10th of March. The trees were still brown and there was still plenty of snow high up on the mountains above the city.
Below you can see the beautiful little one-way street that I lived on during my time in Brasov – Strada Castelului.Watch the video below as I ride my bike around the block – one of the most beautiful and interesting parts of Brasov (in my opinion).
Inside the main door leading out to the street is an old, chaotic little courtyard shared by the residents of my small apartment block. Even after two whole months living in this space, I’m still not sure how many apartments there are in this shared courtyard, or how many people call this place home.
To get to my second-story apartment, I have to walk from the large door at the front of the courtyard, through a maze of cars, up a stone staircase, past an old woman (who looks like a dying bird and never seems to come out of her home), up another wooden staircase that curves to the right, and then go inside the front door of my small apartment.
Once inside, I step into the kitchen area, which leads into every other part of the small apartment – the bathroom, the living room/bedroom, and even a small attic/storage area.
Most of my time in Brasov was spent in the office chair you see in the photo below. With my table set up on the computer and the windows wide open, I could work on my various online businesses while staring outside – up the mountain at the large white BRASOV sign which is located on the hill high above the city.
The attic space, which is accessible from the kitchen, was a great place to store my bicycle and hang my laundry.
The photo below shows my view of the BRASOV sign from the windows of my apartment. Not bad, right?
On several occasions I hiked up to the BRASOV sign and could look down on the city below. The two exterior windows of my small AirBNB apartment were more than visible from the sign – as were most of the town’s other obvious landmarks.
After just a week or two in Brasov, I was visited by my friends Mike and Sophie, who have been driving around Europe in a self-converted camper van for the past several months. I wrote a big, long article about their stay in Brasov already, so if you haven’t done so already, be sure to click here and check out that article. I shot a ton of video with Mike and Sophie, and even created a short video tour of their mobile-home, so be sure to check that out!
After Mike and Sophie left, I started eating salads like crazy. Almost every day I would prepare a big, beautiful salad using the local ingredients I could so easily find here in Brasov. I’m a terrible cook, but salads are easy enough, and they’re good for you also!
So, I ate tons of salads, grabbed pizzas and soup for many dinners at local restaurants, and then cooked rice and veggies in my kitchen on many occasions. Toast, tea, yogurt and muesli were also common foods during my time in Brasov, Romania.
One of the many things I like about Brasov is that the nearby ski resort town of Poiana Brasov is so close and easy to get to. You can literally just walk there (on a hiking trail), which I did on several occasions. Or you can take a bus from the main bus station and be in Poiana just a few minutes later (for just over $1 USD). Once in Poiana Brasov, I’d usually buy an ice cream from one of the local vendors and then hike back down the mountain to my apartment in central Brasov on one of the many available trails.
Another thing I spent a lot of time doing in Brasov while I was there… was paragliding! Like during my previous trip to Brasov in 2012, I decided to continue my paragliding education this time around. My instructor (Robert Gyorgy of Paramania.ro) took me under his wing, quickly brought me back up to speed, and allowed me to fly dozens of times, on my own, from the big hill at the nearby Bunloc paragliding site.
Watch the video below to see a video of me flying a paraglider, on my own, in the mountains of Romania.
For the most part, paragliding was a lot of fun. There was one day, however, when I performed a really bad take-off, was lifted high into the air, and then slammed back down into the rocky ground beneath me. Watch the video below to see the accident before your very eyes.
I was able to get up right after the crash and fly down the mountain a few minutes later. But once my feet hit the ground and reality began to set in, I knew that there was something wrong with my body. My sternum, chest and ribs were all terribly sore… and they only got worse as the days went on. I could barely breathe without there being any severe pain… and sleeping at night was almost impossible. The pain lasted for two whole weeks before it largely went away.
It has been almost a month since the accident now and I still have a small amount of pain emanating from one of the ribs on my right-hand side. I have a feeling I broke that particular rib during the accident, but I haven’t had anyone look at it, so I’m not really sure. I feel generally okay though now, so I’m just going to suck it up and continue.
A week or so after my paragliding accident, I met a young man named James from the Channel Islands in the UK. He’s a young adventurer who recently set a world record with three of his friends by being the fastest men to row a boat around the United Kingdom. He was in Romania, traveling, just for the fun of it, and like me, thought that learning to paraglide would be a fun thing to do. We spent about a week together flying in the mountains of Romania and learning basic paragliding ground-handling techniques. Outside of our para-glider training, James and I went on several long hikes together and even went out to dinner on occasion.
During my last couple weeks in Brasov I was really able to improve my paragliding skills. I went from wanting to quit entirely (after the accident), to having fun and feeling fairly comfortable in the air in just a short period of time (despite almost crashing into the trees on two other flights. Eek!).
Much of my time in Brasov was spent at the computer (working on BicycleTouringPro.com and my other various online projects). I created a bunch of new videos for the Bicycle Touring Pro YouTube Channel… and I spent a great deal of time just walking around the city, taking in the beautiful architecture, and watching the local people.
During one of my last weekends in the city, I joined a group of local cyclists for the monthly critical mass bike ride around the city. This is a slow, relaxing bike ride around the city in which children, teenagers and adults of every skill-set and size come out to circle the streets of the city on their bicycles. It’s a great way to see the city and an even better way to meet the local people.
Brasov, Romania is truly one of the most beautiful places I have been in the world. It’s a relatively small city, but it doesn’t feel small. It’s just the right size in my opinion. There is a lot to see and do in Brasov. You won’t easily get bored. And there are tons of fun, interesting and beautiful things to see outside the city – just a short distance away.
Here’s a funny story to wrap up this post: A few weeks before I came to Romania I bought a hair trimmer in Poland. I used the trimmer to shave my head while I was in Poznan and then hung onto it, carrying it in my panniers during my bike ride to Brasov, with the plan of using that trimmer to cut my hair again once I arrived at my rented apartment in the city.
Unfortunately, about half-way through cutting my hair again, the trimmer suddenly stopped. The front half of my head was shaved almost completely bald, and the back half was still 4+ inches long. I couldn’t believe it!
My two options were this: 1) I go to a local hair salon and explain what had happened. They’d probably laugh their asses off when I showed them my head, but for just a few dollars my problem would be solved. Or 2) I could put on my hat and try and cover my head as much as possible, find a new hair trimmer somewhere in the city, buy it, and then finish the job of cutting my hair.
I decided to opt for the second option. I cycled all the way across the city, covering my head as best I could during the journey, went inside a large electronics store and bought a new hair trimmer. Standing in the crowded checkout line was a nightmare. The man behind me was standing so incredibly close to me and I was sure that he and everyone else in line was looking at my head. haha! With the hair trimmer in hand, I cycled home and finished the job. My head is shaved now and I’m ready for my 3+ month-long bike tour across Romania, Serbia, Bosnia, Denmark, Norway and Sweden. My hair trimming fiasco was a funny little way to end my time BRASOV, ROMANIA – one of my favorite cities in the entire world.