WARNING: Sinaia Casino is no longer a casino
And apparently hasn't been since the 1940's... When we arrived in Sinaia, we were kind of excited about checking out a Romanian casino - it was supposed to be modeled after the famous casino in Monte Carlo. So my husband, brother, and I got dressed up to go out. My brother and I wanted to walk downtown to see if I could find some postcards for my collection, so we told my husband we would meet him there in the poker room. About an hour later, my brother and I started walking toward the double staircase which would lead to the entrance. We were met halfway by a man in a tuxedo. "May I help you Madame?" I replied that my husband was in the poker room and we were going to meet him. " Madame, this is not a casino." Well, I was surprised, and a little embarrassed - I stammered something about my husband being disappointed, and Mr. Snooty Voice just shrugged his shoulders. Sure enough, when I got back to my room, my husband was there waiting for me - he too had been turned away by Mr. Snooty Voice.
There are around 5000 bears in Romania, and most of them seem to be in the forests of Transylvania. Obviously when there's only a few thousand, and many thousands of hectares of forest, you're chances of meeting them are pretty slim. But should you meet one... best not worth thinking about.
And it's not impossible. Two hikers were killed in Transylvania only a few years ago. And a couple I met swore they saw fresh bear poo on the hillside of Tampa near Brasov.
Just in case you haven't been warned enough, check out the pictures of the warning signs posted liberally throughout the country paths of Sinaia. They start pretty tamely near the town, just black and white photos of scared looking bears, meekly suggesting you pay attention to the possibility you might meet one.
By the time you get into the mountains, the signs become colour, the bears are roaring aggressively, and you are clearly warned: DANGER! BEARS!
Turkish Toilets at Pelisor
Just a little tip. The bathroom for Pelisor and Peles Castles-- is a white Circular building on the left hand side going up the hill. You pay some Bani for some toliet paper/ paper towl not sure which it was meant for..... The real warning is its a turkish toilet. Which while isn't the end of the world. Its not exactly fun. So if you arrive by train maybe use that bathroom on there, though you'll want to bring your own toilet paper for the train as likely won't be any.
Make sure you follow these rules for your safety
1. Before leaving on any trip, get information on the desired itinerary, on the degree of difficulty of the trail, weather forecast and the schedule of cable transport facilities.
2. Go to the mountains well equipped with fit gear and always carry a map of the area. Don't forget to put in your backpack the flashlight with fresh batteries and a first-aid kit. Take also some sweets, fruits and water.
3. Avoid traveling alone.
4. Before leaving from a chalet, inform the chalet-keeper on the trail you wish to take and register yourselves in the Tourists' Traffic Register.
5. Choose the trails considering the physical and mental condition of the weakest person in the group.
6. Take only the marked trails. Follow the markings and the signs along the trail.
7. Should difficulties emerge on the trail, or weather gets bad, don't hesitate to take shelter at the nearest chalet.
8. Do not drink alcoholic beverages before and during hiking trips.
9. Do not damage tourist facilities, markings and signs.
10. Be respectful to the natural monuments and protected areas.
11. Do not dump waste in mountain area.
12. Do not build fires in the forest and on the alpine pastures.
13. In the event of an accident, take quick and efficient action in order to protect and secure the injured person. Call the mountain rescue service immediately, indicating the tollowing: what has happened, how many persons need help, the time when the accident occurred, and the place where the injured persons are to be found.
14. If you lose your way, keep the group together. Stay awake and aware. Keep moving in place, in order to avoid hypothermia. Do not drink alcohol. Call immediately the mountain rescue service.
15. Trust the licensed mountain guides and the members of the mountain rescue service.
Expensive video and photo tickets
Major annoyance in Peles and Pelisor Castle was the extra cost added if you wanted to photo or video the castles' interiors. Consider at least 10 EUROS for photos!!
Besides you can buy a combined ticket for both Peles and Pelisor castles (no reduction, price is just adding the cost of these two). This is around 4 euros for Peles and 3 for Pelisor. And if Peles worths every cent of your money, Pelisor is untinteresting and a complete loss of time and money. That's why there were very few people visiting it.
Besides if you visit these places on a weekend expect long queues at the ticket booth plus some waiting time for english speaking groups to enter Peles as you can visit it only as a part of a guided tour (included in the price)
Taking photos inside the castle is not allowed
Taking photos inside the castle is not allowed, so you have to store your camera at the entrence to the castle there you receive a ticket for it. At the end of the tour you'll have your camera back again.
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Beware of icicles!
In wintertime, icicles are everywhere! And, there are some pretty BIG ones that can kill if you're misfortunate to be their target... Like this one, for example! We almost got killed her at Peles castle, when huge pieces of ice started falling down from the roof, just few meters before us! Imagine if we were only few secnds early... Woof!
Visiting Sinaia in winter
When visiting the area in winter time, make sure that you have snow tyres that fit as the snow seem to fall without any warning and it is not pleasant to drive without feeling safe.
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