Brasov, Sigi Swara, Romania
Pros: Brasov-a great little village,wonderful
city, well preserved;Zigi-100% medeival with it's castle in the
center, churches and rundown houses on cobble stone streets
Cons: Bucharest-dirty, crazy,
insanely unsafe for driving, infested with wild rabies infected
dogs, shady looking people
Sunday, Oct 14, 2001
25 hours to Bucharest ...
In the last entry we left you as we were leaving for Bucharest on
a 25 hour train ride. Although we expected the train ride to be
brutal, we had no idea it would be like this...
It started like most other train rides did. Seat reservations, a
rush to get to the train before the departure and then the scramble
to climb aboard before the train leaves.
Glowing from our successful departure, sitting in our lavish first
class train compartment we made ourselves comfortable.
"25 hours in this train is going to be a breeze!" we though
to ourselves while stretching out on the cushy seats.
When the non-english speaking train official started spouting instructions
for train connections and buses we knew something wasn't quite right.
Although english wasn't his strong suit, we managed to get the name
of a town we would have to connect in from in. Seeing as how this
was a "direct" train, it was a little odd that we would
have to change trains but it wouldn't be the first time the illustrious
train information personel had led us astray.
Thinking all was fine we decided to nap for a while to help the
hangover we had been nursing.
Suddenly we were awaken by the sound of the train screeching to
"Everyone out! BUS! BUS!" the conductor
yelled as he herded the passengers to a bus.
In the flurry of activity which was suddenly all around us, confused
and still half asleep, we quickly realized that if we didn't get
off now and jump on the bus we would end up in the back woods of
poland flocking sheep.
So off to the first bus we went... then to another train, then to
another bus... by this point our 1:30 train was most certainly gone.
Looking at the blinking 2:00pm on our watches we new we had missed
our 1:30 train to Bucharest. What we didn't know was why we were
on a bus, where in Poland we were and why we were getting off of
a bus in a remote region of Poland, staring at 3 well armed and
camouflage clad military personel. Being the only 3 non-eastern
european people on the bus we were sure that we had been rerouted
to some place we most likely didn't want to be.
Looking off in the distance, across a wooden bridge guarded by a
red and white gate we could see another picknic table with yet another
3 rambo look alikes each stradling ak47's
hell have we gotten ourselves into boys?" was the question
we were asking ourselves...
Slowly the pieces started coming together and we realized that we
had been rushed off to the Slovakian border to cross over, *on foot*,
to catch our train to Bucharest.
Now, we have been on alot of trains but never have we actually had
to get off of our train, take 2 buses and yet another train to cross
a country border, by foot none the less. Feeling a little intimidated
by the AK47s we took a quick picture of the border from the bus
window ( See picture in this entry).
The trains in Eastern Europe don't exactly run on time, as we stumbled
onto the final train tracks, the run down, rusted, old train idling
in front of us had sign which read "Bucharesti". It was
our train... just waiting for the herd to enter the train before
" We made it!" we shouted as we scambled
for the 3 person couchette we had reserved for the 25 hour ride.
The ride actually wasn't all that bad. A polish, slightly neurotic,
student was in the next compartment over and made for a good 4th
player for some card games. We also managed to buy a case of Tuborg
from the conductor using our US $ reserves. Money well spent considering
Bucharest is dirty, crazy, insanely unsafe for driving and infested
with wild rabies infected dogs and shady looking people just waiting
to rip you off. We were aware of this before getting off the train
so we sprinted through the train station beating off touts, shady
looking gypsies and staying clear of the dogs. Down boy.
Luckily we stumbled onto an english speaking tout from the Elvis
Villa Hostel which turned out to be a brilliant find. Elvis, runs
3 hostels in Romania which are a welcome change to this harsh city.
Free laundry, clean beds, tv room, free beer, satelite TV and 2
$ hair cuts made the hostel an easy sell for us.
One mad cab run through the maze that is downtown Bucarest later
and we were soaking in the comforts of Elvis's Hostel.
Canada Meets Dracula.
Elvis, managed to sell us on visiting his other hostel in Zigi Swarma
( I know that's spelled wrong but it's the only way I can remember
the name :) ). Zigi is were dracula was born and lived. On the way
to Zigi we would stop in Brasov, home of the over hyped but still
enjoyeable Dracula Castle.
The big disapointement is that Dracula didn't suck blood or kill
virgins. Although he only inspired the Dracula legends, in reality
he was still a bad ass... Dracula, better known as ( well, better
known in Romania at least ) Vlad the impaler ruled his people with
an iron fist and had the nasty habit of impaling captured enemy
soldiers. Their impaled bodies were left planted on, well ... their
impaling stick for lack of a better term, and littered the country
side around his villages. Enemies attacking Vlad would quickly run
into thousands of bodies impaled on route and would think twice
about their planned assault. Rather effective technique qouldn't
It is said that the Turks taught Vlad how to impale his victims
without killing them. Victims would live for hours and sometimes
days before finaly dying. Nasty, just nasty...
Although Vlad had nothing to do with Vampires the Brasovians were
more then happy to hawk their cheesy Vampire warez at the castle.
Vampire toothbrush anyone?
Brasov is an great little village 3 hours away from Bucharest. Aside
from the Dracula Castle, the city is just wonderful to walk around
in, well preserved and much more reminicent of a meideval town than
any other we had seen, until we headed to Zigi Swarma.
Zigi, Dracula's birth place, is a town of 3000 with barely any tourists.
We stayed at the Elvis Hostel in Zigi with 3 other travellers. That's
it, just 3! Zigi is the only town on the UNESCO world heritage list
and for good reason. The town is 100% medeival with it's castle
in the center, churches and rundown houses on cobble stone streets.
Goats roam freely through the street and it's possible to catch
a glimpse at people going around in horse drawn wooden carts. This
city is just as close to the 13th century as you can get. We took
lots of pictures so check em out to see for yourself...
Now we are off back to Bucharest to catch our train to Istanbul.
We heard yesterday that Turkey will be sending troops to Afghanstan
soon making Turkey the firt Muslim country to engage Afghanistan.
We are a little worried but we're still going and will check out
the situation as it progresses.