Vlad 'Dracula' Tepes

Sighisoara Travel Blog

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Sighisoara, Romania : 4/11/09

            Early morning rise to catch a train that will take us from Budapest into Romania and drop us off at Sighisoara, the birthplace of Vlad Tepes the “real” Dracula. This will be the first time into Romania for all three of us. Colin and I wanted to come over here in ’06 but I did not have enough time left on my passport to enter the country. One must have over 6 months left on their passport to travel into Romania .

            While purchasing the train tickets for the day we also had to purchase a compulsory reservation, in other words a “seat tax!” They should just call it what it is and not have the fancy name for it. With tickets and compulsory reservation in hand we jumped aboard our train and settled in for a long ride through the Hungarian and Romanian countryside. Not long after crossing into Romania we had another ticket check, but this time the Romanian conductor informed us our compulsory reservation was good in Hungary but we needed one for Romania . “WHAT!!!!” The best part is that he wanted Romanian currency; I’m sure we are the first tourists to come over the border without the local currency! I asked if we could pay in Euros or Hungarian currency. “I will have to check” was his response. Well sure enough we paid in Euros and once again we had a lovely “seat tax” err compulsory reservation for our seats. Few minutes later I took out my laptop to do some writing and the conductor stopped to say something to me. Honest to God I thought he was going to tell me there was a compulsory fee on laptop use; but he was just pointing out that there was a power source I could use.

            The Romanian countryside is very beautiful away from the cities, once the train got close to the cities it became what most Romanians must view as a large garbage dump. I say this because it looks like people must drive up to the edge of a road and say, “Well this looks good enough” and dump their trash. Along with all the trash everywhere there were some massive old run down power plants that looked like they have not been used in over 50 years. Melinda and I scouted some great places to shoot some post apocalyptic films while on the train ride today.

            We got off the train at the small train station in Sighisoara; some dark storm clouds loom over head as we walk to the hostel. Along the way we watched a dog chase cars down the street. I have always heard stories about dogs chasing cars but have never seen one actually chase after cars. This one would hunker down at the sight of the car then sprint after the wheels barking his head off. The dog seemed to be keeping pace with us and chasing every car that went by. I kept expecting to hear a yelp at any moment from the dog being ran over, but the dog finally gave up and walked off. The hostel we are staying at is an alright place, seems to be ran by a few Australians. I swear for a hostel to be official it has to have at least one Australian employed sometime during the travel season. We dropped our gear off and headed out to see the small city of Sighisoara , check out Vlad’s birth house, get some dinner and take some pictures at night. Vlad’s home is now a two story building, only the ground floor is original. There is now a gelato shop on the ground floor and a restaurant up on the 2nd floor, or as the Europeans would call it, the 1st floor. For dinner we decided to dine in the restaurant above Vlad’s house; it was an alright meal but a little on the bland side. After dinner Melinda and I got in a bunch of night shots of the buildings. Colin ended up walking back to crash at the hostel. Melinda and I continued to walk the city and see all the cool old buildings. We eventually ended up in the cemetery perched high above the city. To get to the cemetery we had to ascend 179 stairs that are enclosed in a wooden structure built in 1642 to help children get to school. I looked at my watch and noticed it was midnight ; perfect time for a lovely stroll through a Transylvanian graveyard! After climbing all the steps we stood at the foot of the 15th century church and the graveyard that was in pitch black. We walked back into the beginning of the graveyard and stopped. In the distance we could hear dogs howling and the moon was peaking through the dark clouds above. I don’t think I could have envisioned a scary situation, for a fleeting moment visions of vampires and spooky spirits danced through my head as we walked further into the darkness. I had my flashlight out and ready, but not much further Melinda wanted to stop and I was alright with that. I was now a little more worried about some locals being back in the dark cemetery or a pack of dogs back there that might see us as a midnight snack. Or were we a little afraid of what we might find back there, dead or alive? Nerves put aside I was not feeling that well anyways, my cough has gotten really bad and this cold night air is not doing it any favors. So we turned around and headed back to the hostel. As we made the descent down the covered stairs I kept casting a weary glance up the stairs expecting at any moment to see a dark cloaked figure standing at the top looking down at us.

Finally arriving back to the hostel we crawled into bed around 01:30 and I settled in for a long night of hacking my lungs out.

            Another fun part of Romania that I would soon discover; my Visa ATM card does not work over here. Glad I was told this when I specifically told my card company well in advance which countries I would be traveling through.

            Tomorrow we are off to Brasov , Romania where we will be staying for two nights.


Noapte buna (Good night) from the home town of Dracula ….

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photo by: RJ82