Sunday, May 07, 2006

Transylvanian Hide-away


This is a pleasant little place. Well, it feels pretty small, anyway. Similar to Krakow, in a lot of respects, only smaller. The old medieval town center is still the center of commerce, at least as consumer business goes. The locals are quite friendly and I've had some of the best service at restaurants on the whole of my trip.

I think I might stay just one more night than planned.

I took a half-day tour yesterday to see the Bran and Rasnov Castles. Bran castle has the (false) reputation of being Dracula's castle, but is quite distant from the actual home of the historical figure, in Wallachia. It was used up through the Twenties by part of the royal family of Romania, which has left it in excellent shape, and with very modern interiors.

Rasnov castle is the much more dramatic of the two. Perched very high up on a hill, over looking the town, it is more of a old ruined citadel, than a castle. Inside is the remains of a whole town, some of which has been rebuilt to form the museum and the requisite tourist shops. The views from the top provide a dramatic panorama of the surrounding mountains, marred only be the ruined factories and nuclear cooling tower in the town below.

There are a good deal of other day-trips out of the city as well. Brasov sits in a valley in the Carpathian mountains. Many of the small towns surrounding Brasov still maintain their medieval flavor. I plan to take a day-trip out to a very well preserved town tomorrow, hence the extra day[1].

I've really enjoyed being back in a more rural setting. The mountains are accessible from the center of the old town, full of well maintained trails. It's been a really great break from the hustle and bustle of the cities.

[1] Ok, so the other part of that is that I have not heard great things about Bucharest. Everyone I talk to seems to say that you don't need more than a day or two there. So this way, I'm just shortening my stay to about 2 and half days, before flying back west.

Apparently, totalitarianism was not kind to Bucharest...

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