Pros: incredible view, Dracula's
Castle-interesting, Rasnov Castle-amazing fortress
Tuesday, Jul 17, 2001 14:25
We met Jerry on the train to Romania. His wife had died a few years
ago and he had been almost constantly travelling since then. Jerry
had many stories of travels all over the world.
About 3/4 through the train ride, an American guy came in to join
us. He had been hiking through the mountains of Transylvania, just
north of our destination. This guy was really taking the road less
travelled. While hiking, he had run across a Romanian man who invited
him in for a meal. They walked through groves of cherry trees -
he said it was like something out of a fairy tale or something like
that - and arrived. The meal consisted of animal fat fried in lard!
They kept feeding it to him! He ended up staying for a few days.
That is something I'm sure he will never forget.
We found Gigi in the guidebook and called him before leaving Hungary
to reserve a room. He had a place for us with his uncle for $20
a night. Our train into Brasov was an hour late, but there was Gigi,
all smiles, ready to help us with anything we needed. He had a big
mustache and wild eyes, and excellent English. He brought us to
George, his uncle, who lived just up the hill from the town center.
Our room was small but very comfortable. We had a view of Brasov,
with the large mountain looming behind it. It was incredible waking
up to that view, with the sun and the haze of the morning.
The next day we crowded into a bus to Bran. This thing was absolutely
packed! Dracula's Castle was interesting, to say the least. It seemed
that most of the castle had been painted white in recent times.
While historians doubt that Vlad Tepes (pronounced Tsepesh) had
lived here, this had been a castle of historical significance, as
evident by it's position guarding the only pass between the mountains.
Our next stop was Rasnov Castle, a much less touristy but equally
amazing fortress perched on top of a giant hill. Once at the top,
we realized that it was more like castle ruins, as little restoration
had taken place. This was fine with us, after experiencing the dubious
"restoration" that had taken place at Bran. It was amazing
to look out onto the plains and imagine a massive Turkish army marching
across the land, something that the real inhabitants of this castle
had seen several times. Chilling.