Skizzies on the Hizzy in Transylvania
     When we had first arrived in Romania, our hotel receptionist had told us "Bucharest [was] like any other capitol... it has traffic, it has government."  But she spoke highly of Transylvania, the land beyond the forest, the countryside with mountains and old towns where Romanians went on holiday.

     During the train ride, I could see why. Transylvania, despite its reputation for the nosferatu, is a beautiful land, sided by hills, mountains and forests, stretches of forests as far as you can see, precipitous, engulfing valleys.

      Within hours of arriving in Brasov, after seeing the square and sampling some of the local food, we decided, we are going to stay here for several days.

     If you take the train into Brasov, the first thing you may run into is Gabriel, or, more accurately, he may run into you.  Gabriel is a local tourism entrepreneur who owns several hostels and furnished apartments and provides tourist services.  He is an energetic, friendly, extremely helpful, all-around Mr. Tourism Brasov Guy.

Gabriel (left) and Ed (right)

     The night we arrived and met Gabriel, he was insistent that we follow several rules if we wanted to be safe:

        #1 Always wear the wallet in the front, not in the back.
        #2 Always wear the purse at your front; don't let it swing behind you.
        #3 Only carry as much money as you need; hide the rest.
        #4 Always lock the door of the apartment, and manually make sure that it has been locked.

     He insisted that we follow these rules while in Romania.


     Having several days in Brasov, we decided on the first day we would try to visit the top two local attractions: Bran Castle and Fortress Rasov.  Bran Castle is often called "Castle Dracula" though it's not believed to have any actual connection to Vlad Tepes.

     When we arrived at Bran, we saw a tourist village at the outskirts of the Castle.  There were Dracula restaurants, Dracula dolls, Dracula mugs.  Every Dracula kitsch and tchotchke you could hope for.

Left: Haunted Castle and Skeleton Tavern.  Behind: Scary masks for sale. 

A room inside Bran Castle

Cindy in the stairwell

The view from the top.

I think this is some kind of heater-thing for the bedrooms but really, I have no idea.

Dracula Lives!

     Before we left, we signed the guest book. Visitors come to Bran from all over the Europe and the world, and many write (or draw) something humorous or entertaining.  One visitor from Poland drew the picture below.

     Another visitor, one Tyrel  from Compton, USA (westside!) wrote the entry below. I'm not exactly sure what a "skizzy on the hizzy" is, but I gather he enjoyed the scenery as much as we did.\

     Below, a giant slug. Though it may seem unextraordinary, the picture doesn't do it justice -- while it wasn't as long as a banana slug, it seemed alien and preternaturally large because it was so squat and slimy-looking, and because its antennae were so thick and prominent.

     At the base of Castle Bran, whom should we run into but Gabriel. He was taking another guest on a tour of Bran and Rasnov, and greeted us with his ever-present broad smile. He seemed glad to show off his clients to another, especially since his other client, like us, was Asian.   It was as if he wanted to relieve us all: See, other satisfied clients.  Everyone is a happy guest of Gabriel's.

     Gabriel inspected Cindy. "What are you doing?" he asked. He pointed to her purse. "You are wearing it behind you. He grabbed the purse and slid it to Cindy's front. "Wear it in front. Always."

     "Even here?" she asked, pointing to Castle Bran.

     "Here, it is okay," he replied, glancing around. "But you must make it a habit. Otherwise, you go to the train station, and you wear your purse in back, and you lose it. Always wear it in front, OK?"  

     "OK," Cindy said.  She clutched her purse, but didn't seem convinced. After Gabriel left,  she was wearing her purse behind her back again.

Fortress Rasov, or back to Bucharest: Meet Vlad Tepes.

The Eastern Europe Trip Page.


Copyright © 2001 Edward Lee.  All Rights Reserved.
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