the heat, Transylvania, and castles
Pros: interesting sights-Bran Castle,
Rasnov Castle, Peles Castle-most beautiful and lavish castle, inexpensive
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
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
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