As Peder and I stepped onto the 6:30am minibus from Sibiu to Braşov – at 6:29am – we had exactly 42 lei between us. The price turned out to be 20 lei per person. Yet another very close call.
Unfortunately, by this time I was full-on sick – so despite my strong desire to watch the passing Romanian countryside, I knocked out and slept nearly the whole way there. My eyes just would not stay opened.
Then, after dropping our bags off in the station’s luggage check and verifying our onward train to Moldova, we caught a bus to the legendary “Dracula’s Castle” – or Bran Castle, as it’s actually called.
Although the famous vampire Count Dracula is of course fictional, he was inspired by the Romanian prince Vlad Tepes, whose ruthless torture techniques in the late 15th century earned him the colorful nickname “Vlad the Impaler.” If you’re interested in a bit of history surrounding the real Dracula, I’ve uploaded a snapshot of a particularly descriptive exhibit in Bran Castle; it outlines the history behind Vlad’s reputation for terror, and the resulting legend of Dracula.
Just one thing the snapshot doesn’t mention (which I learned from another nearby exhibit): Vlad Tepes was the son of Vlad Dracul (“Devil”) – thus, Dracula, which actually means “Devil’s Son” in Slavonian. Pretty cool, huh?
Though I was expecting Dracula’s Castle to be a gloomy, terrifying place full of torture chambers and gargoyles – it actually turned out to be one of the prettiest castles I’ve seen, well worth the effort to visit.
The only issue: hundreds of schoolchildren with no apparent control over the volume of their voices or the ability to look in front of them as they walk 😛
Ah well, at least the castle itself was far nicer than either Peder or I had hoped 🙂 And as an added bonus, we even managed to secure our first bling of the trip – at a small souvenir shop at the foot of the castle.
(If you haven’t been a reader long enough to know about Peder and I and our “bling culture,” have a look at the post I’m A Seoul Man. To put it very briefly: wear something silly, and even with no common language you can instantly convey a fun personality and approachability to everyone around you. Time and time again, “bling” – from bunny ears to plastic red top hats – has proven its ability to work wonders.)
Anyway, see the above post for more 😛
So, with a great morning of tourism behind us and two pairs of yellow bunny ears on our heads, we headed back to Braşov – to spend the remainder of our day exploring the second of Transylvania’s three famous medieval towns.