Brasov Day 2..The Hunt For Dracula

Brasov Travel Blog

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Brasov, Romania Day 2: 4/13/09

            Today we are setting off to tour the “Real” castle of Dracula ; Poenari Castle/Citadel. We have hired a driver to drive the three of us from Brasov out to the castle for the day. As it goes the driver spoke NO English so it would be a very quiet drive; three hour drive each direction. We ended up having one extra passenger along for the ride, an American who is living over here. He was tagging along to take pictures. With Colin in the front seat Melinda, myself and our fellow traveler climbed into the backseat and the adventure was on. About an hour or so into the drive the American traveler (who we dubbed stinky McGee because of his bad breath) was getting very car sick in the back seat so we had the driver pull over so he could trade seats with Colin up front and also go throw up. He was getting so close to losing it before we could get the driver to pull over we had to give him a plastic bag while he was in the car. Back on the road we worked our way up windy double lane mountain passes and back down the other side. Huge lorry trucks were also on these roads; these are the only roads in this region. There is no freeway system here in Romania . The countryside is very beautiful; in the high mountains it reminded me very much of Switzerland . We worked our way through several small communities and a few larger cities on the way to our destination; I think the driver even got lost for awhile because he pulled over and had to ask a bus driver some directions. We started following a river and I knew we were getting close; that is when we rounded a bend in the road and high above us perched on a narrow cliff edge was the remains of Castle Poenari. Now all we had to do is climb the 1,000 plus stairs to the castle itself.

            We stood bellow the castle getting our gear ready for the ascent to the top. I felt as if I was at a base camp at the foot of a mighty mountain gearing up for the climb ahead. I left all nonessential items out of my day bag and back at the hostel as did Colin. Melinda being the A/V (audio/video) person on this trip brought all the gear. So after about five minutes of stairs I was lugging her bag up to the castle. It was actually a very nice and easy walk up a lot of stairs that switchbacked several times on the way up. Plus the weather was very nice, sunny but there was a slight breeze so it was not hot at all.

Arriving at the top we had to pay a person to gain accesses to the grounds, and pay to take pictures. The castle has been in ruins for hundreds of years, the original part is in white stone and the newer section is in redbrick atop the older white stone. It is from here Vlad’s wife had thrown herself to her death during a standoff with invaders. If you have seen the Bram Stoker’s Dracula film from the 90’s you will know a little about this. The valley floor bellow was once filled with 20,000 impaled Turkish prisoners; the sight of this alone turned an invading Turkish force back; thus making Vlad one of the saviors of Christianity in Europe . 

Melinda and I were hoping for an overcast day to make the mood and pictures a little more ominous.  However, with the cool breeze the sun felt great! There was a small group of people sitting in the remains of the courtyard when we first got there; they were talking to one another in English. I noticed a black name tag on one of them and knew right away they were Mormon missionaries. Just so I would not forget how small this planet we call Earth is, one of them was from Logan Utah ! The three of us chatted with them for a little bit, then Melinda and I set off to shoot pictures and some video of the grounds. The view from up here is amazing!! One side is the beginning of rugged mountains and on the other the beginning of flat expansive valley floor. A river runs down the valley below us, but it is damned up and there is hardly any water running down it right now. After eating some lunch Melinda and I shot a funny video using the ‘Count’ doll that she brought along on the trip; we made it like an “MTV Crib’s” episode. We had ‘The Count’ take us on a tour through his crib; we had a good laugh and fun doing it.

It was now time to head back down to the car. Walking back down all the stairs made me wish I had my downhill bike; it would have been much easier and way quicker.

Arriving at the car we were once again greeted by the stray dogs. There are so many stray dogs all over this country; it is very sad! So many of them are big beautiful dog’s too, not just mangy mutts; makes me want to move here and open some huge shelter in the countryside for them.

            We climbed back into the car for our three our tour…errr…drive back to the hostel. The three of us drifted in and out of sleep the whole way back. By the time we got back to the hostel we were all dead and starving. After a quick rest we ended up at the main square for a little dinner. After dinner Melinda and I went and shot some pictures then called it a night.

 

Tomorrow we are off to the capital of Romania , Bucharest .

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Brasov
photo by: travelman727