Romania Travel Blog› entry 1 of 1 › view all entries
November 14th, 2008 – by: jlchatham
Romania is a pretty appealing place. It's got some castles, vampires, medieval city squares â€¦ the usual. I didn't run into any wild wolves or bears, despite rumbling around in the dark forests trying, but I did get to take in my first proper castle and it has reignited one of my all time top goals: to live in a castle, preferably on my own island, preferably in the Caribbean. It's a work in progress.
I hopped aboard the train from Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria with another American that'd I'd met in the hostel and we settled in for our six hour jaunt to Bucharest, the capital of Romania. We got there without too much ado and almost on time, kinda. I was eager to get to Brasov so upon arriving in Bucharest we said goodbye and I hopped aboard another 2.
Undeterred, I set about getting myself down to the remaining open castle, popularly pawned off as the "Dracula" Castle. It's not, nor was, but it is a really fascinating place. I expected it to be cold and gray and damp and uninviting, but instead the stones were painted white and the whole place was complimented with wooden support beams, floors, and walls, giving off a warm and earth feeling which was a direct contrast to my typical castle vision.
Being in Transylvania gave me a chance to learn about the man behind the Dracula legends, Vlad Tepes Draculea. This guy was way disturbed. He didn't actually suck down peoples' blood, that was all Bram Stoker's mind at work, but he did do some gruesome things which probably shouldn't be written down here. Yet he's still revered as some sort of a hero. Hm.
I'd planned on spending a week in Romania but quickly ran out of things to do. I spent another day in Sighisoara, a town with a fairly interesting citadel type thing that houses the building where Vlad was supposedly born. I hustled through there in less than three hours and decided I was done with Romania.
I caught the train the next day and nine long (but fairly comfortable, as I was the only one in my cabin most of the way) hours later I arrived in Budapest. I never like arriving in new cities (much less new countries) after dark as it really makes things even more confusing than need be, but due to train schedules it's become fairly commonplace. I stupidly forgot to check exchange rates before getting here so when I rolled up to the ATM I realized I had no idea how many Hungarian Forints I should get. I took out 5,000 thinking that that was a pretty big number and should do me well. Then I bought a subway ticket and it cost 480 and I realized that I may have made a mistake. And so it was, as my 5000 Forints equated to 30 or so bucks. Back to the ATM.
Budapest has been great so far, and more to come on that later. As I'm bustling through Europe ahead of schedule I'm going to head over to Bratislava, Slovakia and then make a detour up to Krakow, Poland for a few days. After that I'll probably swing by Brno, Czech Republic before dropping into Vienna on the 22nd of November. Then onto Nashville on the 24th! Time to head home!
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