What are the things that first come up when thinking about Romania? Dracula’s Castle in Bran, Transfagarasan Road, Sighisoara and maybe People’s Palace in Bucharest? Here, at Outdoor Holidays / NeoTour Brasov, we try to think outside the box and take our tourists to destinations that are not always in the guide books. That was the case on March 20th, when we had Kenneth and David as our guests.
We left Brasov early in the morning and headed to Praid salt mine, which was about 170 kilometers away. With the help of the hotel staff, the guys had a breakfast box ready and managed to have the morning meal in the car. We drove through picturesque countryside and windy roads, we encountered some horse drawn carriages, had a few breaks and managed to arrive at the salt mine at about 10:30 AM. After parking our car, we quickly bought the tickets and took our seats in the bus. Why a bus? Well, Praid salt mine is accessible for tourists only after a 5 minute bus ride deep in the salt deposit. Once inside, we had to go down 300 steps and suddenly, a huge cavern opened in front of us. There were tens of other tourists inside and apparently, there was an ongoing religious service in the chapel, so echoes of orthodox chants were heard in every corner of the mine. Yes, there is even a chapel inside the Praid salt mine…
We began exploring the galleries, found out interesting things about the history of salt extracting methods, form early beginnings, when they used simple tools up to the modern times, when they used machinery. Salt was an important resource back then and people from around this area came here to extract it. As time went by, the mine became bigger and bigger and thanks to modern technology, it is said that the salt deposit in Praid is big enough to supply salt needs for entire Europe for the next 500 years.
However, Praid salt mine is not only a touristic attraction. Many people who are suffering from respiratory diseases come here to have specialized treatment. We quickly realized why this place is famous: the salty air inside the mine and the constant temperature throughout the year makes it perfect for a week or two of relaxation.
After about an hour and a half, we exited the mine and went to the car, not before taking a small salty “souvenir”.
Near the entrance, we had a delicious “langos”, filled with grated cheese, cream and garlic. That was all we needed to keep us warm!
Our next stop was a truly mystical experience. We left the main paved road and went up on a nearby hill in search of Eastern Europe’s biggest statue of Jesus. On our way, we encountered a flock of curious goats.
Because the road was blocked by snow, we decided to leave the car and walk towards the statue. The thick fog and the cold rain, together with the patches of snow and mud didn’t make our hike easier. However, thanks to the fog, we had a big shock when the 23 meter metal representation of Jesus appeared out of nowhere. David and Kenneth were amazed. They even climbed inside the statue up to the head. Unfortunately, you couldn’t see anything because of the fog but still, being inside a statue this high is a unique experience.
After a short photo session, we headed back to the car and drove to Racos, where we visited the Emerald Lake, formed in an old basalt quarry. Nearby, we visited one of the most unique landscapes in Romania: the volcanic canyon of Racos. This is one example of a unique place that you won’t find in the guide books about Romania. David and Kenneth were lucky enough to see it and the weather seemed to contribute to this experience. The rain stopped for a few minutes and we managed to take a walk inside and admire the dark colored cliffs. Just before it got dark, we returned to Brasov and ended the day with a big smile on our faces.