WJ Tested: Uniworld’s Peles Castle Optional Excursion

WAVEJourney’s Uniworld Eastern Europe Explorer River Cruise Review

WJ Tested: Uniworld’s Peles Castle Optional Excursion

Peles Castle in Sinaia, Romania

Peles Castle in Sinaia, Romania

When we learned that Uniworld offered two optional excursions – Peles Castle or Bran Castle (Dracula’s Castle) – during our time in Bucharest, Romania, we were extremely torn as to which one we would like better. So, as we could not decide it eventually came down to a coin toss… and Peles Castle won.

Bucharest Traffic

Bucharest Traffic

After a sumptuous buffet breakfast in the Radisson Blu Bucharest Hotel those of us leaving on the optional excursions met Uniworld’s local host, Tudor, and were pointed in the direction of our tour bus. By 8 a.m. we were being whisked through Bucharest’s busy traffic, out into the countryside, and towards the Romanian town of Sinaia – 80 miles/120 km south of the capitol.

Carpathian Mountains

Carpathian Mountains

Our two hour journey to Sinaia took us past vast areas of farmland and through a number of small towns. Along the way we also caught a glimpse of the Little Carpathian Mountains – not so little from our perspective.

Bucegi Mountains in Romania

Bucegi Mountains in Romania

Sinaia

The town of Sinaia, named after Sinaia Monastery, is nestled at the base of the Bucegi Mountainsat an altitude of 2000 m/6561 ft altitude and has a population of approximately 15,000. This quaint town and mountain resort is located in Prahova County, Romania, and is home to Peles Castle.

Sinaia Monastery

Sinaia Monastery

Peles Castle

After driving through Sinaia and strolling along a tree-lined path to Peles Castle, we were immediately impressed by the stunning German Neo-Renaissance architecture of the castle exterior. The 160-room castle was commissioned by King Carol I of Romania in 1873 and was completed in 1883. Later additions to the castle were also made, and the royal family used it as their summer residence up until 1947.

Peles Castle

Peles Castle

Peles Castle was the first castle in the world to have electricity produced locally. Its rooms are adorned with examples of the finest European art, Cordoba leather-covered walls, Murano crystal chandeliers, and German stained-glass windows.

Our group of 35 Uniworld passengers did the basic guided tour with an English speaking castle guide – lasting approximately 45 minutes – and everyone had to wear slippers over our shoes while in the castle. The tour groups were too close together, so we felt rushed at times.

Peles Castle German Neo-Renaissance Architecture

Peles Castle German Neo-Renaissance Architecture

The exterior of the castle was very ornate and in a spectacular setting – the mountains made for a beautiful backdrop. During our visit, we did find the gardens to be in disrepair – not well cared for and quite overgrown.

Peles Castle

Peles Castle

The guided tour moved quite quickly through the dozen rooms that we were able to visit, and as there were other tours going on at the same time so we didn’t have much time to examine many of the finer details. The tour groups were too close together, so we felt very rushed at times. Interior photographs are only permitted if you buy a photo pass – no flash or tripods are permitted, so it may not be worth the extra money unless you are an expert photographer.

Peles Castle

Peles Castle

Although we would have preferred to go at a slower pace during the tour, and have had more time to spend inside the castle, we were glad we chose to visit Peles Castle and would certainly recommend this optional excursion with Uniworld.

 

Rhein Azuga Cellar

After the castle tour was completed we returned to the coach and drove further into the Carpathian Mountains, to Rhein Azuga Cellarfor wine tasting and lunch.

Rhein Azuga Cellar in Romania

Rhein Azuga Cellar in Romania

We were pleasantly surprised and impressed by the quality of sparkling wines that are produced using the traditional method at Rhein Azuga Cellar. The cellar was built in 1892 and is now designated as ‘Supplier of His Majesty King Michael the First’. Well, if it’s good enough for the King… it’s good enough for WAVEJourney!

Rhein Azuga Cellar Sparkling Rose Wine - Romania

Rhein Azuga Cellar Sparkling Rose Wine – Romania

Following our tasting we dined on a delicious 3-course lunch served family style in a salon at the winery.

Lunch at Rhein Azuga Cellar in Romania

Lunch at Rhein Azuga Cellar in Romania

Lunch at Rhein Azuga Cellar in Romania

Lunch at Rhein Azuga Cellar in Romania

Lunch at Rhein Azuga Cellar in Romania

Lunch at Rhein Azuga Cellar in Romania

Lunch at Rhein Azuga Cellar in Romania

Lunch at Rhein Azuga Cellar in Romania

Lunch at Rhein Azuga Cellar in Romania

Lunch at Rhein Azuga Cellar in Romania

Many in our group made purchases from the gift shop before we again boarded the coach for the 2+ hour drive back to Bucharest and the Radisson Blu Bucharest Hotel.

Wine from Rhein Azuga Cellar in Romania

Wine from Rhein Azuga Cellar in Romania

Note: At Peles Castle there is about a 8-minute downhill stroll from where the tour bus stops. A few people in our group had trouble with the walk and a number of them ended up taking taxis back up the hill after the castle tour. So keep this in mind if you are not typically able to walk for 10-minutes on a slight slope.

If You Go:

Continue Reading WAVEJourney’s Uniworld Eastern Europe Explorer River Cruise Review:

Cruise Overview | Bucharest | Peles Castle | Bran Castle | Bucharest City Tour | Uniworld River Princess | Giurgiu: Embarkation | Rousse to Varna & the Black Sea | Veliko Tarnovo and Arbanassi | Captain’s Welcome Gala | Vidin, Belogradchik & Baba Vida Fortress | Iron Gates | Donji Milanovac | Viminacium Archaeological Site | Sava River | Belgrade City Tour | Deck Dining | Vukovar & Osijek | Cruising the Danube to Budapest | Budapest City Tour | Budapest Parliament Building Guided Tour | Gabcikovo Hydroelectric Dam and Lock | Bratislava City Tour | Captain’s Farewell Dinner | Vienna City Tour |

Notes: WAVEJourney travelled from Bucharest to Vienna as guests of Uniworld River Cruise Collection from July 25 to August 8, 2012.

 

 

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