Gypsies, Forests, and Vampire Legends
Trip Start Jul 25, 2009
23Trip End Jul 25, 2013
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Where I stayed
First, however, I do want to apologize that I've had to take such a long hiatus from blogging. As is evident from the dates, I'm already back safely and soundly in Hawai`i, and must blog the rest of my amazing trip in retro-mode. Blogging everything's some seriously hard work for me! After living an experience, I must go back, dress in my heavy rob and shriner's cap as I light up a heavy pipe and sip brandy in my dark cherry wood-framed study to get into the "creative writing" mode, and also must upload photos, which take a long time, and give specific titles to each one. You all know that sitting at a computer is right next to getting strangled on my "favorite things to do" list, and I've had some seriously bad back problems lately. So I hope you'll forgive me for a delayed update (if you don't that's lame!), but I'm so thankful for your comments and I'm so happy you've enjoyed traveling along with me on this amazing trip! God bless you all as always, and please enjoy this first Romanian installment below!
After arriving in Mediaş and saying hello to Ioana's lovely mother Buni, we were treated with food, including a type of spread made out of I think cucumbers and eggplant that Ioana grew up on
At around nine o'clock or so, Dan and I awoke to breakfast on the patio, which was mainly leftovers from the previous night, along with olives, cheese and salami
Eventually, Dan, Ioana, Ani, Vlad and I got rolling, and drove for hours through the winding country roads connecting Mediaş to other small cities in Transylvania. Many of the most interesting sights to see involved elaborately-dressed gypsies, regularly alongside the road selling their wares, walking, or driving rickety horse-drawn carriages right past the signs that had a red line crossing out silhouettes of people engaging in that very activity. The architecture was often very different than that which I'm used to, with rounded roofing tiles atop sloping rooftops on colored houses build so closely side-by-side that they seemed to be one long building
After a brief lunch in Brasov, which was a beautiful little town snuggled into the hills, we made our way to see the beautiful Peleş castle, nestled in the mountains -- and arrived too late to go inside. No bother though. We were able to gain entrance into a smaller castle owned by the former king, next to the large palace of which I've enclosed photos. It was interesting to see the 1920s design and style of this "small" home, which had I think they said 72 rooms
As it was getting late, and this was the only day I'd have to explore Romania due to the fact that the wedding reception preparation day was the next day, with the reception itself on my last day, we started the very long drive to a distant region in the mountains called Wallachia, to see a fortress by the name of Bran Castle -- aka, Dracula's Castle. This is evidently the place associated with Vlad II Dracul and his son, Vlad Țepeş, who partly inspired Bram Stoker's character "Dracula." Of course, to the Romanians, Vlad the Impaler, as his name translates to in English, was something of a hero, although he dealt severely with his enemies, and as his name implies and as the all-knowing Wikipedia concurs, had a gory fetish associated with watching their bodies slowly slide down the enormous stakes in the ground upon which he skewered them. Chills run through the body when considering this, and even though I am very repulsed by most horror stories along with the gruesome and occult, I was excited to visit this place, as kind of one of those things you "have to do."
The sun shyly obscured itself behind the grey blanket of haze that had filled the mountain sky since the beginning of the day
Ignoring the conceivably wise advice of these two harmless crones, and following to a 'T' the predictable actions of the classic horror story's imprudent protagonists on the verge of becoming held terrifyingly captive in some madman's lair or meeting a more gruesome fate, we ventured onward, eventually finding a decent spot outside the gates to take a couple of pictures. Even though the castle was closed for tourists for the night, Dan managed to almost become a statistic whose disappearance spawns a flash mob of irate peasants brandishing pitchforks and torches in the same previously-mentioned gothic tale, when he breached the ancient walls of the closed fortress and climbed among bramble and old stones into some witches circle. In reality, it was probably the castle's old sentinel station, which overlooked the outer walls of the fortress to keep it safe, but of course in my mind it was really the ancient and spooky stone circle that spellt the demise of any who enter into it, and the mood was perfect, again with the na´ve protagonists playing around nonchalantly in clearly off-limits territory, for a dark figure to instantaneously appear and snatch my brother. The following several moments would escalate from "Hahaha, very funny Dan" in the first moments of his disappearance, to shouting out his name with hearts beginning to accelerate in beating, to me entering in and saving the day as I stake Dracula in a dramatic climax
But the old ghost of the Vlad the Impaler had one more event planned for us as we wandered to the front of his home to take pictures inside the gate as a kind old guard gestured us to come in (wait, or was he simply ordering a nice "family-sized" meal for his master?). As I took a few photos from inside the iron bars of Dracula's sanctuary, I kid you not, and Dan and Ioana, Ani and Vlad can corroborate, a black cloud descended over the castle, followed quickly by the tearing through the sky of a tremendous clapping thunder roll and lighting striking nearby. It was absolutely theatrically planned it seemed, and one of the oddest coincidences of nature I've ever experienced. For the next twenty minutes or so, thunder and lightning boomed and flashed about, until we decided to begin the several hour-long journey back to Mediaş, and not too long after we set out from Bran, we encountered some of the heaviest rain I've ever seen for almost the entire trip back. It's probably just that this area of Transylvania is accustomed to such intense weather patterns (perhaps that's one of the charms contributing to the sinister setting sought out by Dracula's author), but it sure did seem like "someone"
Once we returned home, we met up with Tom, one of Dan and Ioana's friends from Denver, who came out to Mediaş for the reception as well. He had driven from Bucharest to Mediaş that evening, and had also encountered severe weather on his trip. We all sat around telling tales