Pros: beautiful countryside, impressive
castles, most impressive-palace at Sinaia
Thursday, Aug 25, 2005 17:02
From Budapest to Brasov in Romania, it took a 12 hour train ride.
Trains here are very slow.
Brasov is a good place to base oneself to visit the castles and
surrounding countryside in Transylvania. The Dracula castle is in
Bran, the citadel is in Rasnov and the impressive Peles castle is
in Sinaia. At Brasov, I stayed at the Kitmat Dao Hostel. Dao you
ask? Yes, this hostel is actually opened by a Korean-American who
was a backpacker hinself. Throughout the hostel you can find framed
comic strips of monks sharing enlightments with humorous twists.
Dracula (real name Vlad Tepes) did not actually live in the Bran
castle. But they claim that he lived in it for one night. The castle
he actually lived in is very plain so it is not much of a tourist
attraction. According to the guide, a princess who used to live
in the castle killed 600 virgins because she believed by drinking
their blood, she would remain young. Ironically, she later died
in the castle all alone with all her beauty. Later, the castle was
the residence of the King and Queen of Transylvania.
The story on Vlad Tepes is that he was well studied and knew some
medicine so he was able to torture his prisoners by running a spike
through them (from the bottom ...ahem) without hitting any vital
nerves. He could then watch them for days before they died. Many
older people in the region do believe in vampires.
The citadel at Rasnov is basically a town that was moved to the
top of the hill to protect it from foreign invaders. In the centre
of town is a 150m deep well that the people ordered two Turkish
prisoners to dig in exchange for their freedom when they finished.
It took 17 years to dig and the prisoners were never released. Our
guide as a little girl used to drop lighted paper down the well
to see how deep it went but always got in trouble. They built a
mesh as a result. But that was not enough to stop her as she delightfully
demonstrated to us how to get past the mesh. It was good fun except
the pieces that did not go through the mesh created alot of smoke
and almost got us in trouble. And by the way, she does this tour
every other day.
By far the most impressive was the palace at Sinaia. The detail
and craftsmenship was stunning and can rival any palace in Europe.
Without a doubt, excessive self indulgence by the King at the time
and perhaps a legacy followed by Ceausescu in later years. This
palace is certainly a hidden gem as most have not heard of it and
so the place has relatively few tourists. Once the word spreads,
I am sure tourists will flood in so perhaps a good time to invest
into hotels in the area. This area also has many beautiful Romanian
houses which are very unique in their styling and in their use of
sheet metal or bronze as roofs.
At the palace, they were very strict and did not allow any picture
taking. They screamed at anyone who took photos and a couple Aussie
guys almost got kicked out. Marcos however, a Romanian-Brazilian
on the guided tour, managed to bribe a women there with 100,000
lei (3 euros). The women closed the doors for him alone and even
took pictures for him as he posed and smiled on the throne and various
On the second day, Marcos and I went to the town of Sighisoara (pronounced
Sig-gi-shrada) famous for being the birthplace of Vlad Tepes. It
is the perfect picturesque Transylvanian town. Very small but also
very poor with many gypsies at the train station and along the streets.
The town is beautiful and for now, remains untouristy. I got many
long stares. We had a great time and lots of comedy.
In Romania, there is a chain called Fornetti that makes small pastries
they sell by the Kilo. The pastries have various fillings and when
hot are a little taste of heaven. I think they would do quite well
in Canada. Perhaps a great franchise opportunity.