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Brasov. Vampires. George and Gigi.
Pros: incredible view, Dracula's Castle-interesting, Rasnov Castle-amazing fortress
Cons: none

Brasov, Romania

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.