Leaving in the morning, we had more wonderful stops as we made our way towards Budapest, Hungary.
Not too far outside the city of Cluj Napoca, we made a really interesting stop at the Water Mill Bologa where a local family is making an effort to preserve a historical watermill. Here we met the 6th generation family member who led the preservation effort. Besides hosting tourists like us, they support large groups of children to teach them the history of rural Romania. She and her family had turned the inside part of the mill into a small museum showing traditional clothing, farming tools, old telephones, dishes and many other interesting items. Then she explained how the grain mill worked and showed us the bell that would ring in the night to alert a sleeping family member to get up and add more grain. Outside we could still see the waterways where the water runs down and into the ‘washing machine.’ Literally, a carpet washing machine still in use today. The owner was kind and cheerful and so happy to share the information about the village and the watermill. There’s no charge as this is a private family endeavor so we left a donation in the small box unobtrusively hanging on the side of the building.
After thoroughly enjoying that stop, we drove a very short distance up the hill to the Bologa Citadel. It is currently used for concerts, but the history of the 700 year old fortress sheltered people from the surrounding countryside. Some of the towers have partially survived where in better times they served as outlooks for the surrounding valley. We crawled through the very narrow staircase up to the landing of one tower and had a magnificent view.
Never ones to let grass grow under our feet, we took off again on the route to Budapest stopping for a short time in the city of Oradea. Oradea’s long history shows that it once ‘belonged’ to the Kingdom of Hungary, then Transylvania, then the Ottoman Empire, followed by the Habsburg Monarchy and finally it was a part of Romania. In the 18th century the city was rebuilt in the neo-Baroque style and is considered one of the most important art nouveau cities in Europe. We enjoyed walking around the city and looking at the architecture. One of my favorite stops was at the Black Eagle Complex where there is a beautiful stained glass window at the entrance as you enter the gorgeous passage. Currently there were numerous empty shops inside, but there are restaurants and would be a great place to sit out on an evening.
And that was the lost stop until Vlad dropped us off at the Ritz Carlton in Budapest! Bob and I were both so happy that we chose a two day road trip driving to Budapest instead of flying. The time spent in the small towns and short stops made our time there very special. We wanted to make sure we arrived early enough to settle in to the hotel as we had our first Hungarian Michelin star restaurant that night. For details on our dinner at Coste Downtown, click on the Eating Michelin link.
I love a good room upgrade too!
While we say goodbye to a most enjoyable time in Romania, we say hello to Budapest!