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Day Five: Transylvania

Posted on March 24th, 2010

Dave!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...

Brasov City Entrance in Transylvania, Romania

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...

Brasove Crown with Roots Logo

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...

Strada Sforii - Strand Street - The Rope Street in Brasov, Romania

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)...

The Black Church Steeple

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...

Black Church German Boy Statue

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!)...

Jagermeister All You Can Drink Party!

Anyway... Braşov is a charming and beautiful city, built around a lovely public square...

Braşov Square

Braşov 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...

Dracula's Bran Castle Cobblestone Path

Dracula's Bran Castle Entrance

Dracula's Bran Castle Courtyard

Dracula's Bran Castle Dining Room

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...

Dracula's Bran Castle Photo

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...

Dracula's Bran Castle Attraction

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...

Peles Castle

Peles Castle Courtyard

Peles Castle Exterior

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...

Sinaia New Church

Sinaia Old Church

Sinaia Monastey Art

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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