Romania is absolutely gorgeous. A wild, untamed, dirty, old time, run down kind of beautiful. Charming. It won my over in no time.
I arrived at 11am after being on a bus since the day before at 3pm. I had restless naps on the bus, but the sunrise riding through Romania was wow. The Transylvania mountains were highlighted in the misty morning light. The little rustic villages we passed by. Wow. A whole different world.
When I did arrive to Brașov, I was half awake, on little sleep, dropped off at a lonely bus station just outside the city. I had no idea what to do. I had no idea how to get to the city. I had made no reservations for a hostel. I had no idea who how common English was. I wandered into the building. There were 2 tiny shops selling baked goods, cigarettes and booze. I asked them how to get to town. They shook their head, “No English” they replied apologetically.
I wandered outside. There was a place to buy bus tickets.
Ok… So maybe this is how to get to town… I looked at the fliers. The boards. All in Romanian. I wandered and sat down on the curb, trying to wake my brain up to figure out what to do.
“Do you need help? Are you lost?” A guy in his young twenties with a thick accent stood there staring at me.
I looked around, trying to figure out who he was talking to. It took me a minute to realize he was talking to me.
This beautiful stranger. This kind soul. He helped me buy my ticket, gave me a quick overview of the city as we rode the bus, pointed out a few places to eat and find groceries and other beautiful things about the city and walked me to a hostel. He explained he just was visiting the UK and had gotten lost quite a few times and had turned to strangers for help. He was simply paying the world back a favor.
The hostel was chill. You got a coupon for a free drink. They give you a map and blah blah blah. It is a welcoming place. When I entered my room, there was a couple in there packing a day bag. Immediately they said they were going to Dracula’s castle and invited me along. I was tempted but decided to stay back and take it easy due to lack of sleep.
I wandered the streets. Found beautiful scrawlings on the walls. The architecture was intriguing. The city was surrounded by heavily forested hills, one of them with a glaringly white, “Brașov” sign, similar to the “Hollywood” sign in Cali.
There was a pedestrian, tourist heavy street that ended in a huge, beautiful, spacious square. Just beyond was the Black Church. It was huge. Dark grey, not black. Apparently, there was a fire long ago. But the church was solid stone. The outside didn’t burn, but roof caught fire and caved in and created the biggest oven in Europe. If you look up on one side there’s a statue of a boy. One of the apprentices that helped build the church.. He was so good at what he did that his boss was jealous. He Askedthe boy to make sure the edges of the roof were straight and while the boy was on the edge, leaving down to do as he was told, his boss pushed him down. Off the side of the church. All The way to the ground, the boy fell.He died. But people loved him, and they created a statue in his memory. Forever gazing down at the ground, mid work, at the top of the church. It is the biggest gothic church in Eastern Europe.
Brașov also boasts the smallest/narrowest street in Eastern Europe (3td narrowest in Europe). A street originally created for firefighters. A shortcut for then, just wide enough for one man and two buckets if water. In English, the translation is Rope street.
Most people come to Brașov to find Dracula. Dracula’s Castle resides nearby. It is also known as Bran’s Castle, as it towers over the village of Bran. The Castle and Village were overcrowded with tourists. It was underwhelming and the 35 it cost to get in was quite a lot considering the little amount of castle you were actually able to explore. The views from the windows were quite stunning though… I can only imagine what it would’ve been like to live there back in the day. Queen Maria decorated it quite nicely. It was cute inside. Not scary at all. One corner of the castle. The top bits had boards about Dracula and Vlad the Impaler (who Dracula was themed after). There was a “secret passage” and lots of twisty, spiraled staircases. Stunning views… and littering the grounds below were all kinds of booths with “authentic Romanian” food, clothes, souvineers, etc. interesting to walk around.
Here’s a short bit in Dracula…Vlad was the son of the ruler and was sent away during his childhood as a hostage. His father joined the secretive “Order of the Dragon”. He was known as Dracul and his son, Vlad, was Vlad Dracula, or son of the Dragon Anyway, growing up, he learned his favorite way of killing people was by impaling them. Basically, you stick a stake up someone’s Anus. But you have to be careful not to hit any major arteries because you wanted your prisoner alive for a few days… A slow death… They even gave their prisoners water to keep them alive, painfully, longer. But, Vlad was still a national hero to many people. He got rid of all the “bad guys”. It didn’t matter how rich or poor they were, if they broke a law, they were dead. It got to the point that even if someone dropped a coin and left it, the coin would still be there in that spot days later. No one picked it up for fear that they would be considered thrives. Anyway, there’s a whole lot more to his story if you are interested, it’s quite fascinating.
Bran’s castle just happened to be one that most accurately fit the description in the book. Therefore, Bran’s castle became Dracula’s Castle. Dracula, aka Vlad the Impaler, didn’t even live there though. He was held there as a prisoner a few days but that’s about it.
Peles Castle though. That one was absolutely luxurious. Gorgeous inside and out. I took the bottom level tour and got to see a few rooms. All of then intricately decorated and carved and engraved. Gorgeous shimmering chandeliers. Tall mirrors. All the weapons and armor on display. The castle was wow. It sits up high on a mountain. A village turned ski resort. Definitely worthy of a look. You will NOT be disappointed.
We also stopped at a fortress with another breathtaking view. Râșnov Citadel. I was way too distracted by the Dino park we walked by. It looked like Jurasdic Park in real life!! There was also a festival going on below the citadel. Children were dressed up in old time, authentic garb and danced and sang Romanian tunes. Sausage grilled on and old grill in the back and beer flowed from spigots. It was quite an experience!!! I’m so happy I happened upon it!!
Here are a few things I picked up on in the short time I’ve been here: Romanian people I found to be quite nice. Very friendly and warm. They really do the cross on themselves when passing a church. Very religious. Very superstitious. Very family oriented. Apparently they also eat pig skin. The roads are quite bad. Lots of twists. Turns. Potholes. Missing road bits. Pretty cheap to eat and travel. A lot of their food is heavy with garlic (just fine with me❤️)
Tomorrow I head a bit north to a Gypsy camp…. A bit of a top secret, exciting adventure I set up. Everyone I talk to all around the world, especially here in Romania share a dislike of gypsies. I bring the word up and they are already turning up their noses in disgust. I find them intriguing. I want to know what makes them laugh. What makes them sad. Their way of life. I want to discover and share the good that I know these people have.
More on that in the next couple days ❤️❤️