Our journey to Transylvania
Together with two very good friends, and after having watched Bram Stocker’s Dracula, several times, we decided to visit the “Dracula Castle”, near Bran and get into the spirit of the movie. Besides booking our flights, everything else was arranged for us by a specialist in adventure travelling and in very unique trips, which are definitely off the beaten track, www.untravelledpaths.com.
The castle has become a very popular attraction in Romania, even though there is no evidence that Dracula had any association with this castle. On the way to Bran the story telling of ghosts, goblins and other spooky creatures had affected us all. I think we were all expecting to see the Count himself, in front of us!
There is an open air market with traditional Romanian products just below the castle. The boys got a bottle of homemade Tuica, a spirit made from plums, to bring some warmth to us in the extreme Transylvanian cold! We also tried some local cheese or even better local “Brânză”. Specifically we tasted Brânză de coşuleţ which is made of sheep’s milk, which had a very strong, yet delicious taste and a semi-soft texture.
As we looked up the hill, the castle stood out and the snowy wind that blew and shook the trees made the atmosphere spooky. The setting was really out of a Coppola movie!
We couldn’t wait to go up and visit the Castle, which is a museum open to the public with collectibles and exhibits of Queen Mary, As well as costumes, treasures and exhibits depicting the local traditions.
After our visit inside the castle, we went to a traditional Romanian Restaurant, Wolf restaurant, close by and tried the local cuisine; even though the food was rich in taste and a bit heavy on the stomach, all the dishes were all delicious.
Helen-Marie a blogger of gray notes http://thegraynotes.blogspot.gr/, who was with us shares her personal experience of the “Dracula Castle”.
The Dracula legend has always intrigued me; so the part of our Romanian trip to which I was mostly looking forward to was our trespass through the Transylvanian terrain, culminating in a visit to the infamous Bran Castle. Stoker’s tale tells of Jonathan Harker’s passage through the mountains heading towards the Count’s castle as a chilling experience, filled with local mystic superstitions, and the presence of spirits that sent shivers up the readers’ spine. Approaching his destination, Harker is almost in a trance of fear but also a strange excitement, and this was exactly what I feel bearing closer to the Bran Castle. As I explored corridor after corridor, level after level, the hope of sensing Dracula waned. Instead, the castle was a shrine of exhibits to Queen Mary who inhabited the castle as there is no actual proof the historic Vlad III Dracul Tepes, of Order Dragon, the Prince of Wallacia who was branded by urban legend as being, Count Dracula, the first Vampire.
Sadly, only one section of the entire castle was devoted to the legend, and it did not contain artifacts, only some information about the man, his reign, and that there is no true Dracula association with the Bran Castle. What a disappointment for those (like me) who clenched at the hope of discovering some truth in the legend, or the illusion that the creature of darkness once lurked between the walls that surrounded me.
Having said that, the Bran Castle is in itself a truly remarkable landmark and piece of architecture, so I was able to enjoy its beauty after I got over my initial Dracula craving.
Straight after lunch we visited Rasnov Fortress, a less touristy place with beautiful views from the top of the fortress. We climbed up to the top although there is a little train that takes you to the entrance if you are feeling lazy or are having trouble digesting your lunch. The Fortress was built-in the 14th century as a protective barrier from invasions; inhabitants of Rasnov in times of war moved there with their livestock. Today, one can walk around and see the remainings of the fortress, a deep well 175 m deep and some small shops around, selling traditional products and souvenirs.
We spend our evening in Brasov, a very picturesque city. We stayed right in the center of Brasov’s old town square at Casa Wagner hotel which was arranged for us by Untravelled Paths as they have personally checked all the hotels in the area and they recommend only the best ones. The hotel is in a historic building dating back to 1477 and each room has a unique décor and ambience.
Just outside the hotel, there was a local market that opens in the evening with many local goodies, which made us salivate. Hot mulled wine, traditional grilled sausages, caramelized apples were only a few of the things the food stalls were selling. The best thing we discovered though was Kurtos Kolaks, a “barbecue chimney cake”. Kurtos Kolaks are big rolls of dough, baked over coal and covered with caramelized sugar or other toppings like chocolate, walnuts and coconut flakes. It is one of the best desserts we have ever tried in our travels.
At night we went for dinner at Bella Muzica, a MUST-visit restaurant which is really atmospheric with excellent cuisine, in the historic centre of Brasov. We had a great candlelit dinner in a very romantic and warm setting, underground in a long cave with stone walls. Our night ended in a lovely bar “Muzik” for some drinks!
HAPPY HALLOWEEN EVERYBODY!
- Untravalled paths is the best choice for organizing your visit to Romania
- Cristina Pavel is an excellent guide! Thank you Cristina!
- Warm clothes as temperatures in Romania are chilly
- Make a reservation at the restaurants in Brasov- untraveled paths gives you a mini guide book of all the places they have checked out and they recommend.
- You will need lots of imagination/fantasy to get into the spirit of Dracula
- Beware of the dark! …..