The time worked nicely too! At that point, I really don't know much about Romania besides the beautiful Peles Castle that I have seen over the internet. I did further research and found many more beautiful castles and old towns; both are my favorite types of things to see.
After we collected our bags, we walked out and the signage was pretty poor to the rental car counter. We walked back up the stairs and then saw a sign to the rental car counter. Once we got there, we saw all the rental car company's counters except ours - Payless, OMG! I walked to the Avis counter and ask the lady where's the Payless counter? She said oh they no longer in the airport but there should be a representative to escort us. What??? I booked Payless through Expedia because it's in the terminal!!!! I read the confirmation again and it said the counter is in the terminal! We walked back to the arrival area to see if there's any Payless representative...there were a lot of people holding signs but none said Payless GRRR!!! Next, we walked out to the shuttle pick up area and nothing about rental car shuttle. Lastly, I called the Payless direct number (thankfully I have T-Mobile so the international call at 25 cents/minute was reasonable). After navigating through menus, there is a pre-recorded message to meet the representative in front of the "flower shop". I remembered we walked by a flower shop so I hang up and we walked to the flower shop.
The guy finally here and walked us out the airport at the other exit and his coworker drove the van over. The Payless counter is located like a mile away tucked in this park and ride parking lot. The staff who was handling our paperwork was making coffee oh gosh, that was his priority -.- I confirmed our return will be at Cluj-Napoca and got a map of the Payless Cluj-Napoca location (that was impossible to find…story later). After all those wait and frustration, we got the car out just before 6 PM and made our 2 hours drive to Brasov.
The drive was “interesting”…when I looked at Google Map, it looked like a straightforward main road all the way from the airport to Brasov via route DN1. I thought DN1 is like a “highway” but it wasn’t! It was surrounded by residential houses, small shops, and even fruit stands on both sides of the road. There weren’t much traffic lights but lots of pedestrian crosswalks so we had to pay attention to pedestrians and slow down as needed. Then, it was mostly like curvy mountain road with only one lane on each direction…occasionally, two lanes to cut. Our rental car was super slow in acceleration that made it hard for Jason to cut the car in front of us on one lane. We constantly got cut by Audi drivers though LOL! We were surprised to see so many Audi in Romania; I would say 50% are luxury cars and out of those 50%, 90% are Audi! Half an hour before we reached our hotel in the old town of Brasov, we drove through this hairpin curves mountain section. I was joking to Jason, doesn’t he wish he was driving his own car on this road?
We finally arrived at our hotel – Residence Hirscher. The parking spots in front of the hotel were all taken so Jason pulled over so I can walk into the hotel to ask. I contacted the hotel in advanced to inquire about parking and the receptionist confirmed that they have reserved a spot for us, phew! He walked out with me and removed the “reserved for hotel” cone that blocked the spot for us. I am so glad that I contacted the hotel in advance and guaranteed a parking spot, it saved a lot of hassle, plus it was super cheap at 18 Lei per day (~$4.28 USD per day).