Happy birthday to me! As I said on Twitter... I may be all alone in a hotel room far away in Bucharest, but I've never felt so surrounded by friends as I did today thanks to all the kind birthday tweets, Facebook messages, and wonderful emails... it all means more to me than I could ever express. When even your arch-nemesis takes time to write out a birthday tribute, you know your life is worth living. Thanks to mah Hilly-Sue and everybody else who said such kind things. It's truly the best birthday present I could ever hope for.
As if all the birthday love wasn't enough... today my guide and driver took me into Transylvania to explore the Romanian countryside. It all started with the city of Braşov, which has an old-town city entrance that made me feel like I was at Dineyland...
The city crest is a crown from which "vigorous healthy roots" sprout. You see it throughout the city, and I grew kind of attached to it after a while...
From there we proceeded to the narrowest street in all of Romania (and possibly all of Europe), Strada Sforii... which means "Strand Street" or "The Rope Street" in English. It's so narrow that you can't really walk side-by-side, and passing somebody coming from the opposite direction can be tricky...
The primary attraction in Braşov would be Biserica Neagră, or "The Black Church" (so named because it was set on fire and blackened during The Great Turkish War)...
One of the most fascinating aspects of the church is a small statue of a child looking over the edge of the roof-line. It was explained to me that the statue is a tribute to the legend of a young German boy who was annoying the Bulgarian builders so badly that one of them ended up pushing him off the roof and then burying him within the church walls. Scary...
And now, from the Braşov EPIC WIN category... a poster advertising a Jägermeister ALL YOU CAN DRINK PARTY! If only I had more time in the city, I could have really, really gotten my money's worth out of that awesomeness (35 RON is about $11.50!)...
Anyway... Braşov is a charming and beautiful city, built around a lovely public square...
From there we continued onwards to Bran Castle... better known as "Dracula's Castle" thanks to the popular novel. In truth, "Vlad The Impaler" (the real-life person upon which the Dracula vampire character is based) never actually lived here. But the castle fits the location mentioned by Bram Stoker in the book, and apparently Vlad actually did use the castle at one point for his raids into Transylvania, so it gets the honor. The building itself is nothing spectacular, but it does have a great location, including a beautiful cobblestone path leading up to entrance...
Though the best way to see Bran Castle is actually from the grassy park below. Since winter is just on the way out, everything is still looking kind of dead and brown... but I'd imagine the scenery is amazing in the summer or winter...
At the bottom of the hill, there's a crap-market selling all kinds of cheesy souvenirs. There's even some kind of attraction that exploits the Dracula legend. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to have a look...
A far more stunning structure would be our next stop... Peles Castle. The interior is one of the most highly-decorated and massively excessive tributes to overkill you'll ever see, which made me wish I had some photos. But even without them, the exterior is pretty incredible...
The last stop before the two-hour drive back to Bucharest was the Sinaia Monastery. The property includes both a new church and an old church, both very interesting buildings to explore...
Not bad for a twelve-hour day! I will be very sad to leave Romania tomorrow, as I'm sure there are lots of other amazing things to see and do here.
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Happy Vaginal Repulsion Day!
It looks like you’re having an amazing time! I’m a little jealous.
I just came over to say happy birthday. Hillybean sent me!
doamne ajuta! these are my old stomping grounds! i used to live in transilvania. oh, the memories these photos bring.
(All you can drink Jagermeister? That would be “one” in my case.)
Happy Birthday Dave! I’m glad you had a wonderful day.
If I’m reading the date right on that Jägermeister poster, it was on March 12, 2009. Unless Romania does their dates like the US. Then it was December 12, 2009. Regardless, whoever was there only had to be 18 to get in. Sweet!
The places you are visiting are incredible. Very cool photos.
Happy B-day my friend!
Happy Belated Birthday!!!
Wait. You’re in a different time zone, maybe it’s still your birthday…?
Rats, it’s probably later there. But if you were still at home I’d be okay…
Gorgeous! I can’t wait to visit someday.
And happy birthday, Dave! I hope it was a great one 🙂 I think it was!
Happy Birthday!! I love that you take a birthday trip every year. It’s something I’d like to do. In the meantime I’ll settle for seeing these places through your eyes.
Happy Birthday, Dave! I’m with Delmer. I’d have ONE Jagermeister (raised in a birthday toast, of course) but, as I’ve said,before, I think that stuff tastes like cough syrup. Urk!
I wish MY birthday could be so damned cool…seriously, your pictures make me all jealous.
I’m so glad you had a good birthday. Truly, madly, deeply, mah friend.
Great pictures! I went to Romania 9 years ago with college, although we steered clear of Bucharest and went to the coast. I remember spending ages in the tourist tat market outside Bran’s Castle.
Jager is of the devil and must be feared.
So glad you’re getting to take this trip…am jealous! I love exploring Europe.
Hey, sorry for being absent and ending up a day late with the birthday wishes.
Nonetheless. A very happy belated birthday!!
What an amazing birthday treat to be able to visit places like this. Again, and as always, amazing photos. Add me to the list of people who now want to go visit Transylvania.
You don’t know who I am, and I really don’t know who you are but I’ve had the pleasure of reading your blog for years now. So I want to thank you for the couple of minutes of enjoyment they bring me each day and wish you the very best of birthdays.
So Happy Birthday.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY 😀 excited to see where your off to tomorrow!
now THAT is one hell of a way to celebrate a birthday! fantastic!
i really must get to a castle some day. they seem so incredibly cool. love your photos. as always, thanks for sharing them!
Transylvania renews my desire to live in a castle.
Happy birthday to ME!
Buy me a castle. YAY!
Happy belated many returns of the day. I actually was thinking of you on your birthday, but I was in the bathroom and then by the time I got out I had forgotten. But you know I love you, even when I am not in the bathroom.
This whole comment just went horribly wrong on me. Sorry about that.
Man! I have always wanted to go there. My great-grandpa was from Brasov County — his family raised sheep and had a dairy there. He emigrated to the US when he was 16 and always wanted to go back and visit his family, but by the time he had the means to do that, the Iron Curtain had fallen and he was afraid that if he went back he would not be allowed to return to his wife and children in the US.
And happy belated birthday! I missed it because, ironically, I was out of town for my grandma’s funeral (the daughter of the great-grandpa who was from Romania). It’s actually comforting in a weird way to know that while I was dealing with that, you were celebrating your birthday in the land of my/her ancestors.