BootsnAll Travel Network

The Good, the Wet and the Poorly Organised

Our time in Romania has been pretty good, thus far, but there have been a few frustrations, mostly because it’s high season, and trying to do anything results in lineups.

We’ve realised that it’s impossible to know in advance what’s going to be a major tourist attraction. We visited three castles in the Basov area. The first was Bran Castle, which had recieved the Dracula treatment from the marketing department, despite having no relation to either the book, or the historical king Vlad Tepes (the Impalor), commonly referred to in the guidebooks as the “real” Dracula (His only relation is the name “Draculea,” meaning “Son of the Dragon,” since his father was a knight in the Order of the Dragon). So, unsurprisingly that one was pretty busy. Despite the marketing treatment, though, the castle didn’t pretend to be anything it wasn’t, it was a museum of old artifacts, furnishings and the like.

Only a 20 minute bus ride away though, we visited another castle, the Citadel of Rasnov, which was almost empty. It was probably the most interesting we visited since you could wander around and actually see the castle, not just the designated visitor route. It was quite neat, because it had great views, and, being a citadel, had a small village inside of it.

The last castle we visited was at Sinaia, which, being further from Bran, we were expecting to be devoid of tourists. We were wrong. It was packed, and was probably the worst organised place we’ve visited. They had one person selling tickets, and we probably stood in line for about 10 minutes before the person at the front of the line even moved. Then the sign pointing to the entrance, was actually just the entrance for Romanian language tours. For foreign languages, you had to ask three people to find the door, and then wait a half hour for your language to get called. The castle itself was amazingly decorated, though. It was the summer residence of the Romania’s first king (at that time, Romania was only Wallachia, Dobrogea and Moldavia…Transylvania was still part of Austria-Hungary). Everything was meticulously carved, and you could really see just how spoilt these monarchs were. In the mid-19th century, they even had central vacuum and heat.

In Brasov itself, we also had fun visiting the Ethnographic museum. Everything was labelled in Romanian, but it was particularly memorable because they had an automated loom. By coincidence, we’d seen a Discovery Channel show about the loom design just a few days before when we were in Ruse. It was the first example of using punch cards for pre-programming a machine, so it really was an example of the first ever “computer.” They even demonstrated the loom working, which was really neat.

We ran into more frustration when we left Brasov. Our plan had been to stay in a back country cabana for a couple of nights and do some hiking around the mountains. In order to get up the mountain, we needed to take a cable car. As it turned out, unlike our gondolas at home, these cable cars only have two cars, and are much more popular than we were expecting. We got to the bottom, and saw there was a lineup of probably close to 200 people, moving about 20 people every 20 minutes. Since we couldn’t be sure there would be beds available when we arrived at the top, we decided to simply abandon this plan. We ran around a bit trying to arrange accomodation and a rental car (we’re getting tired of being restricted to centers well served by public transit). Eventually we managed to arrange to stay on a small farm near Sibiu. The car, we didn’t manage to get sorted out until today, for pickup on Sunday. Hopefully with that we’ll be able to enjoy the country a bit more, and see some things that are a little less visited.

Things are coming together at last.

As for the “wet” part of the title: it’s rained every day since we left Bucharest. Actually, it also rained the last night we were in Bucharest too. So we’re getting a little wet, but still enjoying ourselves.


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One response to “The Good, the Wet and the Poorly Organised”

  1. andrei says:

    you said draculea means the son of the dragon. in what language ?

  2. admin says:

    I don’t have the book that I got that out of anymore, and I have to admit, that isn’t a detail I recall. Given the context, I would assume it was either Romanian or Latin, but couldn’t say which.

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