There are many reasons to entirely deviate from your logical Romanian itinerary, just to visit Sibiu. One of them is that it’s an absolute treasure of a town, expressing everything that Romania once was and has to be. But second of all, and most importantly: During the snow season this area delivers everything you could possibly desire from winter.
No, my man, I’m not just talking about the occasional snow storm, Sibiu got that covered for you. I’m talking skiing, snowboarding… [hysterical] an actual ICE HOTEL [/hysterical].
So you finished your urban-sightseeing-round and feel like pumping up the speed a notch? Get ready for Arena Platos Păltiniș! Gloriously tucked away from the masses lays a frozen fairyland where the slopes are smooth and the glühwein* is steaming. A place only 45 minutes south from Sibiu can seem like a world away: The eclectic colour palette of historical buildings makes place for endless green with virgin white toppings, a vibrant mix of bustling traffic for an organized uphill line in T-bar ski lifts.
Arena Platos Păltiniș is one of those places I think of when I’m feeling down. A place that’s always pretty, where people are forever smiling and where you never run out of fun things to do. Not only has this area 7 different ski routes (level ‘laidback’), it also has a sleigh ride track, fun park, several off-piste trails and innumerable hiking opportunities! How’s that for a day out? Considering the predominant supply of blue slopes, this is the perfect spot to pick up a pair of skis (or a snowboard) for the first time and learn the tricks of the trade. Besides immaculate slope conditions and the best quality ski equipment I rented in entire Romania (for the lowest price of all), it’s worth mentioning that your travel budget isn’t going to suffer here. For 45-75 lei (€9.50-16) in shoulder season and 80-85 (€17-18) in high season (weekday+student discounts apply), you’re already spending a full day on slats!
That, and the après ski bar. Never forget about the après ski bar.
Romania’s winter wonderland had me easily winded around its frosty fingers, so I’m going all in. It’s proper bucket list time. It’s hard to describe the feeling of storming into a brand new day, knowing you’re going to sleep in an igloo that night.
Yes, I’m going to give you a moment to let that sink in. Some levels of awesomeness are simply too intense for us mortal souls to instantly digest.
Travelling to Romania truly is a gift that keeps on giving. You think Bucharest convinced you, then Sibiu and Brasov are promptly thrown at your feet in all their splendour. You’re convinced Transylvania has spoiled you too much already with Bucegi, the Craiului and Carpathians, then boom: there’s the Făgăraș mountain range swiping you off your feet! And that’s not enough, they crown this climax with an actual Hotel of Ice. Oh Romania, what have we simple travellers done to deserve such pampering?
As I’m Dutch I logically received the red-light-district ice room, but every room has a different color and theme to suit your mood.
Cool indeed. -2 to be exact. Horizontally on a bed of piled up ice blocks I couldn’t have imagined to be that warm and cozy all night. The bottle of wine and three shots of palinka priorly might have helped *(wild guess)*… I mean, how can one be presented with a bar carved out of ice – so not those tacky commercial ‘ice bars©’ all pretentious hipster capital cities can’t survive without nowadays, but an a-c-t-u-a-l ice bar erected entirely out of a natural ice lake – and not honor it by fanatically celebrating its mere existence until closing time? Exactly my point. Drinking sprees aside, the cold can’t possibly infiltrate two layers of thermals, two pair of socks, a fleece, an entire full-body ski outfit, a woolen hat and a hoodie combined with the extreme-conditions-sleeping-bag and several sets of blankets the management of the Hotel of Ice generously provides you with.
I slept like a baby!
The ancient city of Plovdiv, Bachkovo monastery – second biggest monastery in Bulgaria.