Posts Tagged 'ROMANIA'

November 02

Poenari Fortress ıs supposed to be one of the most haunted places ın the world. I defınıetely believe ıt as ıt was used as a dungeon and torture palace for Vlad Dracul and hıs successors. It has sınce been mostly abandoned, which ıs why the Romanıan government toots Bran castle as Dracula’s castle, and not this one. Poenari ıs mostly old ruins now wıth barely there railings all the way to the top. It was a cold and brisk mornıng wıth tons of fog so ı thought we would get the whole creepy effect of the place. We left the hostel wıth Reıner at 6 am because Chris, our frıend from the previous tour to Bran, told us to go as earl as possıble to catch the mıst and darkness. However, by the tıme we got there, all the fog and mıst from the early mornıng was gone…and ın ıts place…a bright, crisp sunny day fılled wıth the most fantastic shades of orange and yellow.

We clımbed the 1480 steps to the top   It’s not a partıcularly hard clımb..but one ı defınıtely felt ın my calves! (should have stretched). No one was at the fortress other than the gatekeeper. He took 5 lei from each of us, and pointed the way up. As we neared the entrance, two adorable dogs came bounding up to us. We knew from Chris’ pictures that these were the two “scary” looking dogs that followed him up the mountain. In daylight, they are just the most lovable things on the planet.

playing with my camera

falling into the dungeon

I climbed over the railing to take a pic overlooking the dungeon. There’s a reason I’m in this awkward position … scared shitless that i’ll fall in. (there was NO ONE there at this fortress to help me if i did).  But while i’m clutching the railing as i climb over…kat snapped this pic, laughing hysterically instead of hanging on to me. *_*

1400 steps up…whew!!! at least the air was crisp and the view was breathtaking

head to toe H&M
October 31
Happy Halloweeeeeeeeeen Everyone!!
We are in Sighisoara, Transylvania…where Dracula was born!!! Romanians don’t really celebrate Halloween at all really … but just being in this historic town is kind of amazing and a once in a lifetime experience. We will also go to Poenari, which is the most haunted castle ever!!!

October 31

Our group consists of me, Kat, Reiner, an American writer named Chris, and an Italian chef named Francesco. We five had the best dynamic and I am so thankful for it because we were stuck in the car with them for pretty much the whole day. Reiner is one of the most knowledgeable people I have ever met. He has a way with storytelling, and his recap of famous history is unsurpassable. The stories of the first kings of Romania seem like fairy tales, especially when he talks about Karl’s two wives Catherine and Mary. Pelesh castle also has a Bavarian look and feel to it, so with the added history lesson, the castle just comes alive. The same went for Bran castle, but by then, we were all quite comfortable with each other, and we took off running and taking pictures. The following are pics inside Bran castle.

wishing well

kat falling down the stairs again

charred ruins outside Bran castle

reiner, francesco, chris, and kat… i’m taking the pic
we did not take a group pic. my camera ran out of battery right as I was setting up for it =/
Our guide is actually the owner of Butterfly Villa. He was the most interesting and knowledgeable tour guide I have ever encountered. I think he may be the best tour guide I’ve had yet. His name is Reiner, and he is a German who moved to Romania 4 years ago to open this hostel. He was a wealthy banker in Germany, but got sick of his stoic life there, wanted to see the world so he took his hard earned savings and went to Romania to open a hostel. I wondered why he picked Romania of all the places he’s been to [he’s been all over the world], but later realized that there is quite a bit of German influence in Romanian culture. Long ago [not sure how long], the Germans had brought over a ton of imperialism into Romania, so many aspects of their cuisine and culture have remained. The most influence was in architecture. Gothic cathedrals cover Romania, and many parts of the German language are still inscribed in the churches and buildings. Nowadays, less than 10% of the population is German, but the influence is still very prevalent. Reiner happened to love Romania and since it was easy for him to adapt to the culture here, he decided to make it his new home. With the hostel [now one of the highest ranking hostels on Hostelbookers], he gets to meet new people everyday and travel as much as he wants. 
His tours are usually to Peles, and then to Bran castle where Dracula supposedly is from. However, as we learned, this is NOT where Dracula originated from. Bram Stoker decided to use Bran castle because of its look and mystery. However, the original castle is much more scary and in ruins. It’s called Poeneira, and is known as one of the most haunted places in the world. Stoker chose Bran for his setting in Dracula and the Romanian government ran with it because it caters to tourism much better than Poenara.

We spent two nights in Brasov eating and taking pictures. Just a small fun town by Bran castle with an old square and pretty buildings. Again, the fall colors everywhere. This awesome car was on the way up to the Brasov sign. I thought it was the coolest car ever.

zara sweater, topshop black pants/tights, H&M neck fur, H&M booties

Brasov is smaller than Bucharest, and a fantastic old town. Reiner talked about the Black Church in the square, but we only saw the outside façade the night before. Kat and I went inside the next day and I thought it was a beautiful and simple church. The church is called something else, but everyone refers to it as the Black Church after it endured a fire in the early 20s, which covered it in soot. It’s more grey now, with bullet holes still marking parts of its history on the outside, and the most fantastic organ on the inside. I wasn’t allowed to take pictures, but the organ inside the church is 4000 pipes, all in working order, and I wished it was Sunday so I could attend mass to hear it. The pews in the church all face the alter, but the back rest is engineered to reverse so that the laity can turn around and face the organ in the back during concert times. How ingenious is that????

I’ve also developed an addiction this past week to this Hungarian pastry. It’s a gigantic pastry, about a foot in length, hollow on the inside, and caramelized on the outside. The bakers will sprinkle powdered sugar, nuts, or whatever flavor you ask for a measly 10 lei [$3 US]. I bought one with caramelized sugar, took it home and munched on it all night. I left a large chunk in the kitchen but it disappeared by morning. I hope someone appreciated it just as much as I did.

October 31

As kitschy as it is, we couldn’t resist going to Count Dracula Club in Bucharest. There is a real Dracula actor that comes in on Tuesdays and Fridays so we were sad to miss him. He supposedly chooses pretty girls to bite and then takes them into his “coffin” that rotates out.

kat wants to be bitten
eeeep! she turned into an onion vampire!

October 31

Peles Castle is just too pretty. It’s nestled in the Carpathian Mountains, near Sinaia. Mount Sinaia is where Moses got his calling to climb the mountain to receive the 10 commandments. It is just spiritual to be around here. Autumn is definitely here. Showers of yellow, orange, reds, and gorgeous browns surround us, and I cannot be happier. Peles Castle reminds me of Neuschwanstein in Bavaria. The wooden architecture is impeccable. I wish i was able to take pictures of the intricate woodwork inside the castle, but they wanted to charge over $10 to take photos.

 fall colors make me happy
 Peles Castle

 Carpathian Mountains!!

October 30

ciuc, the romanian beer

Romania was almost crossed off my list for Eastern European countries to go to. Thank god it was not, and we made it here. Romania is one of the most medieval, gothic, yet the most charming countries I’ve been to yet. We arrived a few days ago to Bucharest, and still haven’t gotten bored with this majestically mystical country.
In Bucharest, we stayed at the Butterfly Villa hostel. It’s a backpacker’s hostel, nothing fancy…and it is a fantastic place. Although there are the usual annoyances of other sleepers in the dorm rooms, we have also met so many great people in the common room. The best thing about Butterfly Villa is the service. Carmen, the receptionist, was the friendliest, most helpful girl I have ever met. Her energy itself is amazing. She helped us book a tour to the castles [Pelesh and Bran] and we originally planned to pay 50 euros each for the car with a guide to take us there. As soon as we signed up, a sign went up saying there was a tour going to Brasov, and that it would be cheaper to join. Two other lucky travelers made the cut, which brought our price down to 35 euros each. 

Caru cu Bere means beer carriage, or beer wagon. It’s the most well known restaurant in Bucharest, so we had to go! The food wasn’t that impressive, and neither was the beer…but the atmosphere made up for it.

chicken schnitzel with potatoes
yummy creme brulee [flan??] and plum filled dessert balls