Transylvania is a complex region. The city of Szekelyudvarhely is also called Udvarhely (courtyard) for short, and in Romanian it is called Odorheiu Secuiesc. With respect to the 96% Hungarian population, I will refer to locations in local Hungarian terms when applicable.
I landed in Cluj Napoca and was met by György, an ambitious, hard-working man who lives in Udvar near the city center. Like most residents in Udvar and Transylvania, he is Hungarian, not Romanian. He is a professional videographer that creates stunning documentaries and memoir videos for special occasions, and he enjoys taking photographs. György moonlights as a private chauffeur because he is saving to purchase a new high-end video camera. I was appreciative of his attention to detail and pointing out the authentic and less touristy places of interest while sharing the history of the area during both of our three hour trips to and from the airport.
We stopped at a thermal spring called Medve To (Bear Lake) in a small city called Szovata. It had been storming and was a bit dark so it is impossible to tell from the photos just how beautiful it is. I found a nice article about Szovata with more details and photo.
There was a brief period during the trip that got a little scary, when a heavy storm crashed down and made it hard to see while traveling across the Carpathians.
I stayed at Hotel Küküllo in the center of downtown Udvar and I LOVED it! The staff was so kind and helpful, provided me with a walking map, helpful suggestions, and regaled me with promises of delicious breakfasts to come. On days that guests are not able to attend breakfast, the Maitre d’hotel sends you off with a To Go package.
When traveling, I always like to wake up earlier than usual to get a good start on wandering the area. Remember that breakfast I mentioned?
Across the street from Hotel Küküllo is this Memorial Park that stands in tribute to thirteen famous Hungarians. To the right and going forward, the area is filled with places to shop, eat, and meet others.
Nearby is Cofetaria Alexandr known for its pastries, rich coffee, and creamy gelato. It is also a particularly popular spot during the summer because it holds several large oscillating fans.
Across from Alexandr is Town Hall square, and both sides of this street are lined with gardens and monuments that lead to the Roman Catholic church and cemetery on the hill.
The most common place I was told to visit is this Roman Catholic Church on a large hill- Székelyudvarhelyi Szent Miklós Római Katolikus Templom és Plébánia, and the cemetery behind it. Once you climb to the top you have a spectacular view of the city.
Back on ground level, I was searching for some Hargita mineral water and found myself going toward residential areas away from the center.
My good friend (host, fellow bone nerd, and professor) teaches an Osteology fieldwork course in the summers at the Babb-Bolyai school. While he was busy I walked the grounds, read my tour map guide, and had coffee across the street.
1 Decembrie 1918 is a major street in Udvarhely in celebration of the Romanian National Holiday, Great Union Day. Also known as Unification Day, it marks the union of Transylvania.
Once I learned that my plan to return home with a suitcase of local paprika would be foiled by customs, I was determined to eat as much of it as possible while in Rome.