My late mother, Imma Sarah, immigrated to Israel sick and destitute shortly after the end of the Holocaust and World War 2. After I was born and my parents had acclimatized well in Israel, my mother had no desire to ever leave the country again. Returning to Europe was simply out of the question. It was only when I was about to graduate from high school at the Hebrew Gymnasia in Jerusalem that her attitude changed. In 1974, my Aunt Chaya and Uncle Nissan, persuaded my mom to travel with them to the cool Carpathian Mountains in Romania and holiday together in Poiana Brasov.
Two weeks later, we picked up my mother from the old 20th century terminal located in Ben Gurion Airport. I will never forget her relaxed and happy face as she exited customs. She raved about Poiana Brasov, the town that changed her attitude about traveling abroad. After that trip, my parents returned to Europe each year escaping Israel’s sweltering, summer heat. My mom however, didn’t return to Romania, rather preferring the Alps of Austria or the cool mountains of Czechoslovakia. Aside from a few work visits to Bucharest, I hadn’t visited the Romanian town that benefited my mother’s health and general wellbeing.
Fast forward forty-five years and together with Itzik and Roni, my long-life childhood friends, we recently decided to trade the Covid resurgence in Israel for a week-long vacation in Poiana Brasov. Roni, who has Romanian roots, recommended the town enthusiastically. At the last minute, he, unfortunately, canceled due to ill health leaving Itzik and me to set out on an adventure without him. After a short and pleasant ELAL flight and a luxurious Dacia Duster transfer, we arrived safely in stunning north Romania.
The Carpathian Mountains are magnificent and the ancient cities scattered around them are charming and impressive We enjoyed a pampering vacation there at ridiculously inexpensive prices. We adored exploring the majestic castles and the surrounding lush gardens.
King Carol’s Peleș Castle, near the beautiful town of Sinaia, is one of the most impressive structures and a must-see when visiting north Romania. The Castle in the town of Bran is commonly known outside Transylvania as the Castle of Dracula the Vampire, referring to the famous novel by Bram Stoker.
However, the treks and walks in the mighty forests of the Carpati mountains are, in my opinion, the main attractions to see in the region. La Prapastii Zarnesti canyon is one of the most breathtaking views hikers will experience. We were completely blown away.
The gigantic and impressive Libearty Sanctuary in Zărnești is home to the largest reserve of brown bears in the world housing over 100 bears rescued from a cruel and abusive life of captivity.
The Seven Ladders Canyon is another must-see attraction for hikers. It is made up of seven waterfalls, the tallest being 35 metres high and the trail within the canyon is punctuated with metal stairs and platforms.
Brasov was hands down one of my favourite cities in Romania. It’s one the best-preserved cities with a stunning town square, a famous black church, medieval walls and the narrowest streets I’ve ever seen. In Poiana Brasov, the Ana Hotels Sport was our home away from home and our stay there was very enjoyable. We made the most of the spa and indoor pool and were very happy with the comfortable and attractive guest rooms.
“Regardless of the time of year, when you decide to come to Poiana Brasov, it will be the perfect location for your vacation”, says Laura Ursu, General Manager Ana Hotels, Poiana Brasov. “Whatever your reason for traveling, be it adrenalin, sport, family holiday, or for the spas – you will find it here. It’s the perfect destination for you” she stated. We wholeheartedly agreed. Daily forest treks in the mountains and the crisp air did us the world of good.
There are daily flights to Romania for a cost similar to a domestic flight from Tel Aviv to Eilat. Hotel rates are very reasonable and there are currently no COVID19 restrictions in place. Upon our return, I looked for that old photo of my Mom arriving at the airport from Poiana Brasov in 1974. I smiled to myself at how satisfied she would feel knowing that I was able to make the journey to the town that gave her so much happiness.