This morning Jamaliah and Rudy went exploring the walled old city on top of the hill before leaving the town. We first climbed the long wooden covered stairway (1642) with 173 steps going up to the church (1345) on top of the hill. The stairway must have been made to make sure the people get up the steep slope to the church in the winter. We spent some 2 hrs wandering the streets and climbing the clock tower. The tower has figures which represent each day of the week in astronomical signs. In the tower we could see them, and the clock driving mechanism from close by.
From Sighisoara we drove through the hills to Sibiu (90 km), which is the regional trade center and also called the cultural city of Europe. The town is lovely restored and has several town squares and churches.
The city center is not dominated by big shops. Moreover the old shop fronts are still intact so it is not all that obvious that there is a shop. We walked a bit around and entered 2 of the 3 churches and then drove out of town. The history of the town is partly visible in the churches. The old Gothic church (1300) was taken over in 1524 during the reformation and is still the protestant church. The replacement Catholic Church was built later in 1728 and is in the Baroque style. There is also an Orthodox cathedral which again is newer (1906) and this one is a built in the style of Aya Sofia mosque in Istanbul. The ortherdox group must then have gained prominence. Missing was a mosque so I assume the Ottomans did not get this far. Before leaving town we could not pass up on the McDonalds and stock up on calories. The 280 km drive through the rolling hills to Arad on the border with Hungary was nice but tiring. It is a slow winding 2 lane road with lots of trucks and now and then a horse drawn cart. It feels like every time you overtake 1 truck 2 more appear in front of you. At 20:00 we made it to Arad and drove through town looking for a hotel. We came across the 3-star Best Western but gave it a miss because of the price (Euro 95 per room). On the way in we saw a lot of attractive motels and pensions which are used by travelers (mostly truck drivers). We drove out of town and quickly found a perfectly adequate pension for only Euro 31 and after overcoming the language barrier we also managed to get a decent meal. I much prefer this sort of local accommodation than the international stuff. The motel also has a table tennis set, so the boys had a quick game before and after dinner.