The Sibiu Challenge

Words by Dalene Heck / Photography by Pete Heck

It is not often that I like something that Pete doesn’t.

It is more often the other way around. He likes a diversity of food I don’t (but c’mon – spiders and iguana?), and I am much more selective in the music that fills my iPod, whereas he is proud of his Belinda Carlisle and Tears for Fears collection. And if I am being completely honest, our reported joint displeasure of anyplace usually starts with me.

I sometimes wish that I had his affinity for love of all and could shed my discerning ways. He is, easily, the most joyful person I’ve ever known.

Until we got to Sibiu.

To be clear, and this should be of no surprise, Pete never hates anything. But it took me less than one day to declare my submission to Sibiu’s charms and he was totally “Meh”. It’s not often that Pete is Meh.

At first, I couldn’t really explain my love. It isn’t as picturesque as Sighisoara or Brasov – both of which glow like the set of a Hollywood fairytale. But in that way the city felt more real, more livable. It’s incredibly relaxed and I instantly felt so comfortable. Pete’s purview, on the other hand, was a little different. He complained repeatedly about the difficulty in taking photos – there always seemed to be something in the way, like the stage set up in the middle of Piata Mare almost the entire time we were there. Shadows fell the wrong way, frequent rain impeded.

But then, on our second last day, he burst into our apartment after a solo photo walk and was absolutely beaming with love for the city. Why the sudden change of heart?

It’s because it was a challenge and it pushed him as a photographer.

He had to dig a little harder, find patience, and explore what is tucked away. Sibiu is not laid out as obviously as other towns, the proper angles weren’t as apparent.

And in that he found new appreciation.

Sibiu actually has two squares in it’s historic middle, known appropriately as “big” and “small”. This is where the action happens, where big events are held and tourists are found strolling.

The real beauty, however, is in the tiny streets and stairwells surrounding. They lead to secluded corners, the odd ornate church, and the usual appeal that can be found in colorful urban decay.

He had to dig a little harder, find patience, and explore what is tucked away. Sibiu is not laid out as obviously as other towns, the proper angles weren’t as apparent.

Sibiu Morning
Sibiu Large Square
Sibiu from Above
Sibiu Door
Sibiu Shadows
Sibiu Centre
Sibiu Cathedral
Sibiu Side Streets
Sibiu by Night
Sibiu at Night

where we stayed

Another Airbnb win with this apartment – just a couple of minutes from the main squares, recently refurbished and with very accommodating hosts (who brought us some missing kitchen items ASAP), we were very happy for our ten days in Sibiu. (It was only supposed to be a week but we extended – again – we enjoyed it there so much.)

Haven’t tried Airbnb yet? Sign up through this link and you’ll receive a $25 credit (and we’ll get a little something as well, thanks for helping!) 🙂

18 Comments... Read them below or add one of your own
  • August 7 2014

    Do you know what a successful travel blogger does? They make you aware of someplace that was never in your mind and give you that inkling that you want to go there. So you are very successful – Romania was never on my radar and is now a place I really want to visit! Thanks for all the eye opening posts!

    • August 8 2014

      Thank you so much for such a wonderful comment Jill! I am glad we are communicating well on what a worthy place Romania is. 🙂

  • August 7 2014

    I have a deep desire to go to Romania – I have some roots that way so the country is bug on my ‘to visit’ list!
    Emily recently posted..The Budapest River Cruise: A Review

  • August 7 2014

    I love these photos and knowing how tough it was to get them makes me feel like I’m seeing a special part of the city.
    Megan recently posted..The Great Barrier Reef – A natural wonder at risk

  • Steph (@ 20 Years Hence)
    August 7 2014

    In a weird way, this sounds like the way Tony & I were about Luang Prabang, Laos, but for the opposite reason: he really loved the city, but I couldn’t warm up to it. He thought it was great for taking photos, but I felt like it was too fake feeling in real life! I didn’t hate the place, but I couldn’t get excited about it… although I did get some good photos too, and I was able to appreciate how photogenic it was.

    • August 8 2014

      That’s so interesting Steph! It’s funny how places can leave such different impressions on people. It’s one reason why we never speak in absolutes on the blog (i.e. “You MUST go there!”) because enjoyment will all be such a matter of perspective.

  • August 8 2014

    This looks like the kind of place I could get lost in for days! I’d just want to see what was around the next bend, again and again. I’m also intrigued by the eyes. It’s such an unusual architectural detail!
    Heather recently posted..Rundale Palace: The Versailles of Latvia

  • August 8 2014

    Well, you would never know from these photos that Pete had trouble finding angles in this city! Lovely collection. I really love the one with the guy sitting on a bench.
    Amanda recently posted..Celebrating 4 Years of Blogging (With a Survey and Giveaway!)

    • August 9 2014

      That’s one of my faves too. 🙂 Thanks Amanda!

  • Liz Nichols
    August 8 2014

    My sentiments are the same as Jills. I will now be googling…Sighisoara and Brasov to learn about somewhere I would never have known about had you not shared your posts and photos. I love the back streets of Sibiu with all the colourful facades on the biuldings. I just so wanted to be able to see what was around that next little corner. Have you posted any photos on Trover. I just adore seeing the photos of peoples travels on there. Thanks again liz

    • August 8 2014

      Thanks so much, very sweet of you to say Liz! We have a “Romania Guide” with photos on Trover ( from us as well as others (for places we wish we had gotten to).

  • Jaime
    August 8 2014

    Beautiful photos, you’ve definitely put Romania on the list for our upcoming world travels. Oh, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with Tears for Fears. Nothing.

    • August 9 2014

      Haha, I was wondering when someone would race to Pete’s musical defense. 🙂

  • August 10 2014

    I’m really glad you guys ended up by enjoying my favorite Romanian city. It really is a photogenic little town with lovely medieval architecture and friendly people. Next time, make sure you’ll visit the nearby Astra Museum (one of the largest open-air museums in Europe) for some truly outstanding photos of folk art , lakes, picturesque croplands, and ancient buildings and houses that tell the history of Romania.

  • August 17 2014

    I think I’d give Sibiu a thumbs up. Your photos convey a lot of character to the town. I’d love to explore it. Thanks for the introduction to a new place!

  • These photos are beautiful! You would never know he was facing a challenge! Thanks for sharing!
    Mary @ Green Global Travel recently posted..10 Things We Love About West Sweden

  • September 6 2014

    I would say, Pete, that you really rose to the challenge. These are great pics!

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