I practice two-faced tourism.
Two-faced tourism: not the deceitful, insincere meaning of the expression, but tourism with two faces. One, the ‘officially guided’ way to discover a place, the curated path. The second one, exploring outside the beaten path, delving into its day-to-day, non glamorous self.
I went to see Brasov in June 2016.
FACE ONE – THE BEATEN PATH
The panorama from “Cetate” (Fortress) – opposite to the gondola view :
FACE TWO – OUTSIDE THE BEATEN PATH
It was the end 1988 when I last visited Brasov: I was in university, backpacking from Cluj to attend a The Jazz Festival organized by Alexandru Sipa.
In that cold December weekend, my friend and I found a place to crash overnight in the university campus, at a hostel. On our way to the festival site, we passed by the CIBO Chocolate Factory, with a history going back to year 1900. I remember walking around the block for three times before we were able to cut the cord and continue with our day: we were caught in some sort of a trance, you see, to which contributed the surreal scent emanating from within the walls, and the hunger in our bellies.
Fwd to 2016: the factory is gone, as many other staples of the pre-1989 landscape.
A good friend of mine guided my ways outside the beaten path in Brasov for three days in June 2016. We saw pubs with such names as “La studenti” (With the students; well hidden at the entrance of the tourist area, near a university building) or “La bunica” (“At granny” – a den reminding me of the communist watering holes of the proletariat; granny is the iron-fist waitress). My friend also showed me one of the best graffiti I ever saw – it is in the tourist area, but in a relatively hidden corner: