08.06.2012 29 °C
It's a fact that you cannot properly visit Transylvania without making the pilgrimage to Bran Castle, better recognised as Dracula's Castle. So, first thing this morning I stocked up with water and camera batteries at the supermarket near my hostel, then set out for Bran. The return trip, with a detour to Rasnov Fortress, meant catching a total of 5 buses, but it was easily done now that I'm such a pro.
Seeing the castle appear in the distance was very exciting, but once you get close to it, the view is obscured by the surrounding trees.
Travelers I have met have complained that it is over commercialised and they were disappointed but I thought it was lovely. It's reasonably small, and has whitewashed walls throughout, with wooden beams.
Although the space is quite confined (especially when a tour group comes stampeding through), it's easy to make your way around. There was a very well sign posted secret stairway to climb between floors.
The rooms contain actual props from Bram Stoker's Dracula movie, and Queen Maria's furniture including a cards table. Even I wouldn't dare play Shithead with Dracula. "I win! You're the Sh.....um, er, nevermind. Tea?"
There's a great view of Bran village from the castle, and even the view inside the castle is quite something.
After exiting the castle, I took a stroll down the road to see if I could get the money shot. Not only did I find it, but I also stumbled upon a medieval museum which contains much of the furniture from the castle.
A roadside stand was selling those delicious deep fried, cheese covered, bread things, so I had one for lunch, and fed some to a dog that keep staring at me with big doe eyes, until guilt got the better of me. Then I forgot my head, and jumped on a minibus to jiggle and bump all the way to Rasnov. It was a scorching day by now, and when I was dropped off on the side of the main road, the fortress looked to be on top of a pretty big hill.
I walked a kilometre or so up the road to the entrance, and was pleased to see a sign saying there was a train to take me to the top, so I bought a ticket. I was quite surprised when the train showed up, and even more so when a schoolbus arrived with about 40 very chirpy children who promptly hopped on the 'train' with me.
Rasnov fortress is just ruins now, but I like clambering around sites like this. It was originally founded by the Dacians before the Romans came along, no doubt followed by the Hungarians, Germans, Turks, and everyone else who has run rampant in Romania. Although there are only remnants of it there today, I'm sure the views are still as magnificent as they would have been throughout the centuries when it was inhabited.
Once back down on flat land, I started to walk along the road through the forest to a nearby cave. Only I could hear voices coming from within the trees, and it all got a bit Blair Witchy for me (and then I remembered the bears), so I turned around and walked back to the main road to catch a bus back to Brasov.
Now, there is just enough sun left in the day to head into town for a beer to celebrate achieving my goal of visiting Transylvania, and having reached the half way mark of my adventure through Eastern Europe.