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Last updated : Nov 2009
Hiking in the heat, Transylvania, and castles
Pros: interesting sights-Bran Castle, Rasnov Castle, Peles Castle-most beautiful and lavish castle, inexpensive internet
Cons: none

Brasov (Transylvania), Romania

Saturday, Jun 29, 2002 17:48

Our last two days in Lake Bled were a bit more active than the first few. One day we hiked to a national park and then walked along the tiny wooden trail that hugs the side of the rock cliffs that form a gorge. The path zig-zags over the river and waterfalls, a very beautiful place. Of course at the time, all I could think about was what idiots we were for going on a hike when it was 100 degrees outside.

The following day we rented a boat and rowed out to the island in the middle of Lake Bled. I learned that rowing a boat with three people in it is a little tougher than rowing a canoe with just you inside.

From Bled, we returned to Ljubljana, where we found the first good Mexican food of our entire trip. Hooray! It gives us renewed hope to keep trying.

From Ljubljana, we took a train to Budapest, where we switched train stations, then immediately got on another train to Brasov, Romania. In all, we were on trains for about 23 hours in a 25 hour period of time. Which would have been perfectly fine if the trains were air conditioned. Since they weren't we sat there trying to stay perfectly still so as to not work up too much of a sweat.

We arrived in Brasov at 5:30am, and arranged accommodation in a private home. Brasov is in the heart of Transylvania, and is an ideal location for day trips, as there are several towns of interest within 2 hours from Brasov. It has been overcast and rainy, which is wonderful after the heat of the last couple weeks.

Our first day trip was to Bran, which is where Bram Stoker's Dracula (the book, not the movie) is based. We saw Bran Castle, which wasn't as spooky as you would have expected for Dracula's Castle. But from what we have read, Vlad Tepes "The Impaler" (the person the Dracula character is based on) never actually lived in Bran Castle. You wouldn't know it from the town though. They have taken the Dracula theme and really gone wild with it. There is a Dracula Market, a Dracula Bazaar, even a Dracula Erotic Show! They also sell Vampire wine, and there were lots of stalls outside the castle selling scary masks and little ghosts. Tacky, but fun.

On the way back to Brasov, we went to see the ruins of Rasnov Castle, which is located at the top of the mountain. It is quite a hike to get there, but our book said that "everyone who makes the trip to Rasnov agrees that it is more interesting than Bran." They need to change that to "nearly everyone." We didn't think Rasnov was very special, just some piles of rocks and a few old crumbling walls. Probably good for Romanian history buffs, but not the average tourist.

Our second day trip was to Sinaia, where we saw the Peles Castle. It was built in the late 1800's for the first King of Romania, Carol I. Since it was built so recently, it has had electricity, elevators, and central heating since it was built. It was the first castle in Europe to have such modern features. The place is incredible, the most beautiful and lavish castle I have ever seen. It is really more of a palace. The furniture was made from teak, ebony, and cherry wood with inlaid stones. The dining room has a leather ceiling. It was well worth a visit.

Yesterday we went to Sighisaura, a well preserved medieval city where Vlad Tepes/Dracula was born. His house is now a restaurant, so of course we had to eat there so that we could say we had lunch where Dracula was born. They menu includes drinks with names like "Dracula's Dream." We also saw a very small torture museum.

Tomorrow we are headed to Bucharest. I will miss Brasov, especially the prices. Internet here is the cheapest we have found anywhere, at thirty cents an hour. We went to a movie and it cost seventy five cents. It turned out the movie was not the one we thought it was, so it was in Romanian, but for seventy five cents, we didn't really mind.