Braşov is the kind of city that I could write novels about continuously. Whenever I visit it in central Romania, I discover something previously unknown to me, which makes my stay there more fulfilling. Most people visit Braşov, the Hollywood of Eastern Europe, for its main attractions. Yes, Tâmpa Peak, the Black Church, and the Black and White Towers are fabulous reasons to visit this city, but so are many others. Choosing to experience the small pleasures of Braşov made me feel like a local, and I loved every minute of it.
Let’s start this story about Braşov’s small pleasures, by talking about the country’s narrowest street which can be found here, Strada Sforii (Rope Street). This 1,11m-1,35 m wide medieval corridor was built in the 17th century and made the work of the firefighters of that time more manageable. By going through the passage, they managed to cut the time needed to reach a fire on the surrounding streets. Locals use this street as a shortcut now as well, getting from the city center to the streets underneath Tâmpa Peak in just a couple of minutes. Currently, Rope Street owns the title of the third narrowest street in Europe (after Spreuerhofstraße in Germany and Parliament Street in England).
In German, Braşov received the name Kronstadt (the City of the Crown). It is clear to see why, when one looks at the city from above. The old part of the city has the shape of a crown, and the emblem of the town itself is a crown on top of a tree trunk with many tree roots. Tâmpa Peak is sometimes overcrowded, so locals have chosen another spot to meet up and stare at their crown-shaped hometown. Here is also where they have a couple of drinks underneath the stars with thousands of lights twinkling at their feet at night. Called Belvedere, this place is a portion of the road leading from Braşov to Poiana Braşov (a mountain resort). There are three car refuges along the street which offer magnificent panoramic views of the city. Most local teenagers drive up here to meet up with their friends, considering it a cool place to be. Grab the bus number 20 towards Poiana Braşov and exit at the Facultativa bus stop. Then there is only a 1 km walk until you reach the first refuge. Cabs will also take you directly to the area, and the fares are reasonable.
What I’m about to tell you now is an insider's secret. If you are into thrift stores or just getting clothes at a low price, then the gypsy market in the Bartolomeu district of Braşov will make your eyes sparkle. The market is a regular destination for locals, offering an impressive variety of clothes and shoes. I have heard stories of people finding vintage wedding dresses here, hiking boots who were worth 300 EUR, or designer jeans. The owners found these items at up to 90% cheaper than in stores.
If all of this got you interested, then know that this treasure hunt requires a lot of patience. In most places, clothes are stacked up in piles. The search sometimes feels like a race, with many people rummaging through the same pile concomitantly. To find the best items, try going as early as possible when the market opens its gates. The gypsy market is open daily, from 10 am to 5 pm.
Sometimes experiencing places like a local can leave us with the best memories or souvenirs. Braşov is a place of many small pleasures; most of them still waiting to be discovered. Become a Braşov connoisseur and share what you experience with your friends.
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